I have a weakness in my heart for side-scrollers. Trine definitely plays on the nostalgia card by taking three unsuspecting heroes with their own skill sets to have them solve physics puzzles to stop the advance of an undead army in this "2.5d" adventure
Your Typical Fantasy Fare.
Trine takes its cues from the over-used plot of a death of a great king causing the scales to tip towards evil across the kingdom so an undead force is out to wreak havoc. Now, that the plot device is established three stereo-typical high fantasy characters are brought together by the Trine - a mystical artifact of old kept locked away at a wizards school. A thief, wizard and a knight happen to become bound to the Trine causing their souls to bind together as one. As would be expected, the trio must set out to save the kingdom. A story of this caliber isn't going to win any awards but it's not the story that makes it great , it's the game play.
A box here, swing over there...
Before I get into the game play I think it's important to go over which skills each character has in relation to solving puzzles the game throws at you. The game play in Trine is fairly reminiscent of Lost Vikings. Unlike the Lost Vikings, where the object switch between three guys with a different skill to get everyone to the end of a level, you're allowed to switch to each character class on the fly whenever you like just by pressing their corresponding button (you can only play as one class at a time in single player). So you're not running into the problem of leaving someone behind which does speed up progress quite a bit. The trio have their own set of skills to help them overcome the obstacles thrown at them during their adventure and to help them obtain items to increase health, energy, damage dealing and damage reduction.
The Thief - The Thief has the ability to use a grappling hook to swing from ledges allowing you to bypass pit-falls and rappel to hard reach areas that would tough or impossible for the other characters to reach. She is best used for hitting enemies at a long distance with her bow. You can control the trajectory and the power of her shots depending how long you hold down the attack button.
The Wizard - The wizard can conjure objects to help you get across plat forms that to far apart. Objects such as boxes, planks, and floating platforms. Each can be summoned by drawing their corresponding shape somewhere on screen. Unfortunately the Wizard has no offensive spells but you can drop boulders or rocks on top of the undead provided they remain stationary or if you can time the drop just right.
The Knight - As would be expected, the Knight is the brute that smashes the problems away. He 's best used in dispatching the undead horde and blocking arrows and other projectiles with his shield. The Knight can also lift heavy objects and bash down weakened walls and wooden debris. One disadvantage the Knight has is he is incapable of swimming, and proceeds to sink like the proverbial rock to the bottom of any body of water which has is due to the weight of his armor. Speaking of weight issues, if you reach terminal velocity with the knight while falling onto a baddie, you can kill them Super Mario style.
Here's an over simplified example of how each individuals skill sets are used to solve a problem: A platform on the other end is too wide to jump, so the wizard must cast a plank to walk across the chasm. There is a pool of acid below, to get across you have to switch to the Thief and use her grappling hook to swing across the corrosive bath to reach a weakened wall. Switch to the Knight to smash in the wall and walk through it to progress. What's great about the puzzle portion, the developers don't box you into solving the puzzle their way. There are multiple solutions to puzzles that are presented, something that I haven't seen much in video games of yester-year and present so I give the developers props when it comes to allowing the player to be creative with the problem solving portion.
The control is pretty solid and allows for some customization. Playing in single player mode, I attempted to use a game pad, but I felt the keyboard and mouse combination worked the best due to the fact the Thief and Wizard require a fair bit of use from the left analog stick which is something that can pose a problem when you need the sensitivity of a mouse for aiming and drawing for the Wizard on the fly.
Having the ability to save just about whenever you like in a PC game should be essential. Trine takes the console route of using check points throughout a level, but if you need to quit playing for whatever the reason, you have to start the level back over from start. Why you can't just continue from the last check point is a mystery and this would be rather frustrating if it wasn't for the fact the levels are rather short.
Ding, level up!
The level system is unconventional. To level up you have to collect fifty experience potions through exploration or killing undead. Once you posses fifty potions your trio is rewarded with one skill point each to be spent on things such as attack power and skills. It's different, but it keeps your eye open throughout the game looking for these somewhat elusive potions.
I think getting the best bang for your buck is playing this game with a group of friends. What's interesting is that the developers didn't include an online-multiplayer mode. Why, I have no idea. I think the PS3 version has online-multiplayer functionality which leads me to believe they entered an agreement to make online multiplayer a PSN exclusive. The only way to play with friends is to have three people sitting at the same computer taking control of each character. This is where the game becomes more like The Lost Vikings due to the fact if it was easy for one character to bypass a puzzle by switching back and forth, you now have to get everyone up and over to progress the level which will no doubt start some shouting matches between players when it comes to the best way to solve a puzzle.
You don't need a MENSA level IQ or a advanced degree from MIT to solve the puzzles. As mentioned earlier, the developers let the player be creative with the problem solving. Thinking that the difficulty level would adjust how hard the puzzles would be, alas this isn't the case. The puzzles remain the same despite the difficulty setting and the difficulty setting is just a slider to adjust how many baddies and the damage dealt per hit to the heroes. The monsters aren't too difficult and just increase in durability as you progress through the game. The mini bosses presented throughout aren't too tough as well as their attack patterns are very simple to figure out throughout the game. I just wish that the difficulty setting would affect the puzzle difficulty as this would definitely add to the replay value.
Sound and Graphics.
Trine uses a foreground that can be quite bothersome in particular instances as I found myself getting smacked around sometimes by baddies that remain hidden by pillars and other objects that can obscure what's going on in the mid-ground where the action takes place. This problem isn't that big of an issue as one might think since anything in the fore ground rarely obscures what' taking place in the mid ground. The visuals alone are beautiful as no detail goes un noticed. It's the little things such as the moths attracted to torch lights that gets high praise from me. No sound detail goes unnoticed as well. The clank of the armor as the knight has he runs, the sound of fire raging in the background and other little elements such as the sound of footsteps on grass, metal and stone are all there. The voices for the characters are a bit rough, but the voice of the narrator is perfect for the games setting. The music deserves an honorable mention as the orchestrated music is perfect for the high fantasy setting. With the portmanteau of the sound effects and music expect pure magic.
Unfortunately the re-playability of the game would be rather low if it wasn't for the achievement system and all the hidden treasure items. I for one never cared too much about achievements, but I know plenty of gamers love them which should be more enough to warrant plenty of replay-ability and is definitely worth the thirty-dollar price tag.