Review by interNOT
"A side-scroller that delivers initially.. then forgets how it did."
I will start this review off by noting that this review is not done in traditional fashion with grading for each aspect as there is almost little to no emphasis on story and the graphics are pretty standard for a side-scroller you'd expect to see released in 2009, despite recent ravings which have been said on every review website ever. I will focus on exactly what Trine seems to focus on.. or attempts to. I'm also Canadian so you can expect me to be an idiot and to incorrectly place the letter u after the letter o in some words.
Trine is a side-scroller which was developed by Frozenbyte, an "Indie" company from Finland consisting of about 20 people at the time of this review being written.
Trine is a game that capitalizes and attempts to emphasize on the 'holy trinity' of medieval fantasy -- the agile thief, the wise magician and the strong knight. Shortly after the prologue, you are ejected into the first level with the ability to switch between the three of the aforementioned. Sounds simple and innovative, right? Now all that needs to be done is incorporate versatility in the levels. Does Frozenbyte do this, or does the game get led on by a false premise? Read on.
The game is labeled as an action side-scroller. Fair enough. You'd hope the action had some variety.
The initial impression is that progression through Trine's levels consists of three characters, each with their original tools to navigate through appropriate obstacles. The Thief has her grappling hook and ability to shoot arrows, the Wizard can conjure boxes and control objects while the Knight can swing his sword and block with his shield.
The unfortunate downfall of the intended premise is that you can beat pretty much the entire game without ever switching to the Knight (except an obligatory "there's-impassable-terrain-here-but-I-just-got-this-new-ability" situation twice in the game). The pseudo-puzzles incorporated consist of either stacking boxes on top of each other by the Wizard or moving boxes and stacking some more. Sometimes, these puzzles don't even need to be properly solved as you can just fire the Thief's grappling hook in a completely illogical direction and you'll have wood to latch onto with your grappling hook.
"interNOT, you're just complaining about how exploitable parts of the game are! How about giving us some logical input on what exactly you're talking about; surely every level doesn't seem as if it's on repeat?!"
Blatantly speaking, this game does not vary much after the first level. You side-scrollingly platform through things you would expect in a side-scroller; the exact same enemy models, pits of spikes (which can be stepped on by the Wizard's conjurable boxes) and items.
Oh, right. Items. I forgot to mention those. There are chests laid around each of the levels that may or may not take an extra grappling hook jump or an extra box stacked on top to get to. There are by no means secret or difficult to get to. To put a more hilarious emphasis on how overlooked the game's original premise is, there are a slew of items for the Wizard and Thief (and some are exclusively only for them) but the amount of items for the Knight are laughable by ratio and even then, half the time they're hybrid items to be used on the Wizard or Thief alternatively. The Knight's item presence is so scarce that you actually get an ability from a chest for him at a later point in the game.
There's also this gimmicky experience system where you pick up green lamps (or beakers?) which are scattered through levels. Every 40, you gain a "talent point"(for lack of better unprovided term) that you may invest in something you don't exactly need in the game, such as the thief firing an extra arrow per attack or an extra box being spawned by the Wizard. The Knight has some other garbage too but you can bet that you won't ever need to use it. Some of these you obtain through moving an extra box with the Wizard but most are collected by killing skeletons or the only other model which is significantly more 'difficult' to kill; some hilarious aesthetic fusion between a Ninja Turtle and a Battletoad with a razorback. And no, that particular monster does not have any special abilities.
At this point in the review, it may seem as I'm bashing the game to an extent. Really, I'm not; I'm simply taking it for what it attempted to present properly and judging it as so. For a team of 20 people, Indie or not, this game is very underwhelming in practice in comparison to the idea that they had on paper. The entire game feels as if it was conceived for the Wizard and the Thief, then they decided to give it a quasi-cryptic name to resemble "three" and throw a useless other character in there.
I played this game on "Hard"; the hardest difficulty is locked for your first play-through. Which is interesting because this game's replay value is practically non-existent. The game doesn't exactly change from the first level besides the background and the 'story' which progresses like any other medieval story ever written.
Having said all that, I'm not sure how I felt about playing Trine. Alone (I was told the game is enjoyable with a friend). Keep in mind that this review is based on the PC version (though I'm sure nothing changes on PS3 or Xbox 360 besides controls). The voice-overs are enjoyable to listen to but they only exist in the beginning and end of levels. The narrative between loading screens is also soothing in a fairy-tale-story-telling sort of way, but it really doesn't add to the story which has zero flavour. The combat becomes more of an expected chore than something you end up fearing, especially when you need to deal with oncoming enemies from the exact same spawn point for about 3 actual minutes until the game allows you to progress. The item system is completely additional and feels like a nostalgic heart-string pull from the Treasure Hunt in "Kirby Super Star" for SNES. And as I've said plenty of times before.. the Knight feels like a tacked-on character.
To sum up the entire review:
Trine is a side-scrolling platformer with lackluster action, a gimmicky experience system and a bunch of mechanics that are not fully explored or taken advantage of. Variety is scarce in the twenty-or-so levels. Puzzles are non-existent and combat becomes heinously boring. The story is standard. The graphics are what you'd expect from a game made in 2009 by more than five people. The voice acting is admirable.
The reason I purchased this game was due to a recent birthday of mine realizing that it has been far too long since I had played enjoyable platformers of my time. I had hoped Trine was going to be innovative enough to rekindle my love for such games. Unfortunately, Trine ultimately stops feeling original after the third level.
Finally, justification for my scoring. Initially, I had decided on a "7 / 10" score, based on my own completely unjustifiable and standardless scoring system in which Donkey Kong Country 3 gets a 10 and Demolition Man gets a 4. Then I figured I would rather let GameFAQs' templatively-described scores set the gears in motion by choosing of caption based on score. 7/10 was "Good - a few problems, but worth the time to play". This would be ideal if the game didn't feel repetitive extremely early on. Five is "nothing special about it" but Trine gets acknowledgement for attempts at innovation.
The score is then "6 / 10 - Fair - game is okay, but there are many better". I couldn't have said it better myself.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 12/20/09
Game Release: Trine (US, 09/11/09)
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