Two defining characteristics make Frozenbyte’s Trine a must-have for fans of side-scrolling platformers: the ability to switch between three unique characters and visually-striking graphics. While certainly not the most innovative puzzle platformer on the market, this game charms players with luxuriant visuals as they traverse fairy-tale like levels filled with reanimated skeletons to fight and physics-based puzzles to solve.
Trine’s plot plays like a childhood fairytale reads. Once upon a time there was a kingdom blessed with peace and prosperity, but when the king died without an heir the kingdom was thrown into disrepair. Armies of the undead rose to take advantage of the chaos and the kingdom is now overrun with skeletons, bats, and other creatures that go bump in the night. Three hapless characters (a thief, a wizard, and a knight) are melded together after touching a magical artifact, the trine. So begins our heroes’ quest not only to separate themselves from the power of the trine but to save the kingdom from ruin. A quest that they ultimately succeed at and become immortalized heroes, etcetera and so forth.
Not exactly the most thrilling or engaging series of events, but where the plot lacks depth it makes up for through superb execution. One stand-out feature is the voice acting. The narrator’s rich voice draws players into the fantastical world. Each stage begins with a voice-over from the storyteller and a bit of playful banter between the characters. The characters sound just like they were meant to sound: the thief with her sultry nonchalance, the wizard with his nasally complaints, and the over-zealous knight charging into battle. As cliché as it all sounds, it works.
The characters each have exclusive abilities to help solve puzzles and move through stages. The thief uses a grappling hook to swing from platform to platform and carries a bow and arrow. The wizard uses his magical gifts to levitate and conjure objects. The knight carries both sword and shield to fight off the scourge overrunning the kingdom. As the game progresses, characters collect experience orbs that are used to level up and upgrade abilities. The thief gains the ability to shoot flaming arrows that inflict more damage and light torches. The wizard is able to conjure not only cubes, but flat boards, and pyramids that hang suspended in mid-air. The knight, as can be expected, collects more weapons and gains the ability to pick up and throw heavy objects. In addition to this, the stages are peppered with hidden treasure chests that allow players to collect items that will further enhance each character’s abilities. Players are able to switch between the characters at will and utilize these abilities to solve the puzzles sprinkled throughout the game.
Trine’s puzzles do not pose much of a challenge, so if players are looking to spend hours working through complicated series of riddles they should look elsewhere. Instead, Trine balances the typical precise jumps gamers expect from a platformer, with not-so-challenging puzzles that still manage to be entertaining, and throws in a little action-based sword slashing to keep things interesting.
This is a great game for someone who is looking for a game to play but does not feel up to investing hours upon hours of time. The stages are broken up almost as though they were chapters in a book and for the most part can be completed in less than thirty minutes. No one puzzle poses such an overwhelming challenge as to set the player on edge. Instead, Trine offers the opportunity to experience vivid, fantasy environments at a leisurely pace. Environments filled with reanimated… okay, after a while, the endless parade of skeletons and bats does get a little old. The developers could have done themselves a favor by adding the occasional zombie, ghost, or other incarnation of the undead. Fantasy gamers have been killing skeletons for decades, so the least they could have done was throw us a bone.
Aside from a seemingly endless parade of skeletons, the environments can be described as nothing less than eye-candy. Ranging from darkened mines, to lush forests, to ancient ruins where the game lacks variety in enemies it makes up for through the various stages. The only stage that did not quite live up to expectations was the final level. It felt hurried and underdeveloped. Players are reduced to a race against time jumping from platform to platform dodging items and obstacles summoned by a spirit. And it is a spirit that the characters never actually get to face off against. There is no epic final boss fight. There is no complicated puzzle to be solved. Even the jumps seem almost juvenile to the seasoned platform jumper.
In the end, Trine may not be the most innovative side-scrolling platformer to grace the gaming universe over the past few years but it certainly is worth a try. Fans of fantasy, puzzles, and jumping will all come away with a feeling that their time was well spent. The mechanic of switching between the three characters makes Trine different enough that it does not feel like players are playing through the ‘same old game’.