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Mordred

Mordred Reviews: Trine

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Mordred Reviews

Trine

PC/Steam Version

 


 

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Trine is a 2.5D platformer with 3 playable characters that you can swap between at will (a knight, a thief and a wizard) journeying across a kingdom inhabited by reanimated skeletons brought about by a mysterious magical artefact.

Each of the 3 characters is what you’d expect them to be if you have any experience of traditional fantasy archetypes.

The warrior isn’t much use at actual platforming (and sinks like a stone in water) but is able to easily carve through the skeletons that form the bulk of the enemies you encounter throughout the game, plus he can throw objects like boxes and rocks as weapons (although I rarely found much cause to use this ability). He also carries a shield which you can predictably use to block attacks, as well as the fireballs present in most levels.

 


The thief uses a bow and arrow and also a grappling hook to swing from most wooden objects. She can also be upgraded with fire arrows to light torches at long range and to destroy some of the flimsier objects dotted around.

Lastly the wizard can conjure up boxes, planks and later on floating platforms (which can be used by the thief to grapple from), as well as being able to levitate just about anything that isn’t nailed down. Pleasantly rather than being bound to a button press the wizards summon abilities are gesture controlled, for example to create a plank you drag a line in midair the length of the line determining the length of the plank. Although he has no direct offensive abilities as such the boxes and planks he conjures are controlled by the same physics engine that controls everything else so on the odd occasion when warrior and thief are both disabled you can find yourself frantically drawing shapes in the air over attacking skeletons, which is more fun than it actually sounds.

At the start of the game the 3 characters are bound together by the mysterious Trine and this conveniently allows you to switch between the 3 characters at will, using each characters abilities to overcome the various puzzles in your way. In most cases there are multiple ways to approach each puzzle, for example using the wizard’s powers to create and stack up boxes and planks to allow you to reach higher levels or using the thief’s grapple to swing between wooden posts. In fact, and this may or may not be a bad thing depending on how much you like thief, I find myself defaulting to playing as the thief all the time simply for ease of movement and the fact that she is nearly as good as the warrior at dispatching enemies, usually only switching if she’s killed or I need to create a platform to use as a jumping off point.

The levels present you with pretty standard platforming fare with an array of switches, moving platforms, elevators and lava pits of various descriptions plus a fair number of opportunities to use physics in different ways to approach a puzzle (for example the thief can shoot arrows into a spinning platform to slow or speed its rotation or the wizard can levitate his conjured boxes or the rocks and crates scattered around the levels onto scales to raise the opposite platform).

 


The physics themselves are well implemented with objects behaving as youd expect them to. You can also impale objects like boxes and planks on the spike traps on the walls and floors to form bridges or stepping stones over them which is a nice touch. As is the way that some of the huge spinning cog wheels and water wheels can be jammed in place by wedging the wizards planks in between the protruding teeth of the wheels and the environment. Slightly jarring though is the fact that the wizards levitation ability appears to be partly immune to normal physics as the objects you levitate gain no momentum at all, instantly dropping when you release them no matter how fast you were moving them or in the case of the huge swinging spiked balls that hang from many ceilings you can use levitate to hold them in place but as soon as you let go they start moving again which is downright odd. I can appreciate this is probably intentional for balancing reasons and to stop you using the wizards levitate as an offensive ability, but it’s kind of off putting.

There is a simple RPG element as well, with you finding a few items you can equip for different effects scattered around and you can spend experience points gathered by killing enemies and tracking down glowing green vials to upgrade your abilities. Mostly I think it’s there to encourage you to explore the levels a bit more to track down all the experience vials.

The enemies you fight are pretty repetitive, just skeleton warriors and archers, bats and one of two large troll things. It would be nice to have a wider assortment of things to hack to bits and there’s a blatant missed opportunity for an R-Type style giant boss monster in the Dragon Graveyard level. I mean the games full of undead and you’re in a dragon graveyard. The thief even brings it up. In fact there aren’t really any bosses to speak of beyond a couple of larger skeletons and a troll or three, which is a shame as the combination of character switching and the physics integration could make for some very interesting boss fights.

 


Each level is introduced by a narrator with an oddly familiar voice. In fact I can’t help but think of Hogfather and The Colour of Magic when he’s speaking...probably no relation at all but it’s a very fitting voiceover. Likewise the other character voices are also well done although there isn’t a lot of speech mid level.

 


The graphics and general presentation are the best part of this game. Every levels back and foreground is highly detailed and the weather and particle effects (smoke, heat haze, rain etc) are top notch for a platformer.

 


In a way the whole package of the slightly comic presentation, imaginative fantasy styling, music and even the combat reminds me of the old PS1 (and later PSP) action game Medievil. In fact the warrior character does play quite a bit like a much fatter Daniel Fortesque. This is a good thing.

I got this on Steam for £17 and despite the relatively short story I would say I definitely got my moneys worth.




 

Conclusion

Grade: B-

* Mordreds Recommendation*


  • Story - 7 There isn’t really a lot of story here to speak of and what there is is pretty basic fantasy “evil villain appears, takes over idyllic kingdom and is promptly vanquished by our daring heroes” fare. But the cutscenes are well animated and the oddly familiar narrators scenes serve to explain whats going on.

 

  • Design - 7 While the game is solid throughout it could stand to be longer and could do with some more advanced puzzles to take full advantage of the physics engine. And I can confidently say I would kill for a level editor for this game. Or at least some more variety in what sort of puzzles and situations you end up in. The game was over disappointingly quickly really, I forgot to do any timing but its probably about 4-5 hours long.

 

  • Gameplay - 8 While this is essentially a traditional platformer its very well implemented, plus the physics puzzles and the ability to change between characters at will makes it interesting enough to stand out.

 

  • Presentation - 10 This is where this game really shines. From the storybook narration to the gorgeous level design and nicely done background music everything comes together to make one of the prettiest and most distinctive games I’ve seen in a while.

 

  • Total - 8


Despite its obvious flaws this game has a level of charm you rarely see in games today, and its only a few things that keep Trine from being one of the all time classic platformers.

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Links:

Trine on Steam

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