Egg Freckles
By Thomas Brand

Mon Feb/13 Trine


Trine. is a side-scrolling platform adventure. The game follows the adventures of three heroes bound together by a mythical crystal force known as the Trine. Only one hero can be on screen at a time, and the player must switch between the three heroes often in order to complete the games various puzzles, obstacles, and enemies.

Gameplay is similar to Castlevania with elements taken from the Legend of Zelda and Diablo. The game is set in a fantasy world with a very Tolkien feel.

The characters are controlled using directional keys on the keyboard. Aiming is accomplished with the mouse. The left and right mouse buttons perform different attacks, spells, and actions depending on the character in play. The scroll wheel is used for switching between weapons.

The objective of Trine is to progress through the game's levels while collecting experience points, discovering treasure, and defeating enemies along the way. Experience points provide our heroes with new capabilities. Treasure enhances a heroes existing capabilities. Heavily armed, platform hopping skeletons block the our hero's way with sword, arrow, and fiery breath. During the course of the game it quickly becomes apparent that the environments, and not the enemies, are the true adversary in Trine. The levels in Trine are filled with spikes, pits of lava, fireballs, giant pendulums, and various other booby traps and puzzles that require the unique skills of one or more of our heroes to overcome.

Our first hero is Zoya the thief. Her bow and arrow is the only ranged weapon in the game, and her grappling hook is indispensable at reaching out of the way areas. Zoya is my favorite character for her mix of combat and maneuverability. She is very versatile. Through the use of power ups her bow becomes a formidable weapon, even at close range, and her jumping ability and agility cannot be beat.

Our second hero is Pontius the knight. He is the teams primary warrior and uses a sword, shield, and sledgehammer for melee attacks. I found myself using Pontius more during the beginning of the game. His powerful melee attacks are useful at dispatching hordes of skeletons, but his lack of maneuverability makes him a poor choice for Trine's later obstacles.

Our third hero is Amadeus the wizard. His ability to use sorcery allows him to move objects remotely, as well as conjure new objects into existence by drawing their shapes on screen. Initially Amadeus is only able to conjure a single cube-shaped object, but later in the game he can create multiple cubes, planks, and a floating pyramid the thief can latch onto using her grappling hook. Amadeus has no traditional attacks, but he can hurl objects at oncoming enemies. He is a poor choice for close quarters combat, but his telekinesis and ability to change the game's environment makes him invaluable for overcoming Trine's most difficult obstacles.

Trine would be an average side-scrolling platform adventure games if it wasn't for the lush 3D environments and realistic physics our heroes must explore in order to complete their quest. \ The worlds in Trine are beautiful. After seeing them you will agree with me that 3D landscapes with realistic lighting aren't just for first person shooters anymore. Part of the excitement of completing a level in Trine is getting to experience the next area. Each level is different from the last, filled with new obstacles and picturesque background scenery that never seems to repeat. If there is one constant in Trine it is the Nvidia's PhysX physics engine which provides objects and characters with realistic physical interaction.

Everything in Trine interacts with everything else in a realistic way. Stacks of blocks will topple over with an indiscriminate push. The remains of vanquished enemies fall to the ground with the characteristics of a rag doll. Pendulums swing with added force when pushed. Levers lift with the expected result of additional weight. Trine's realistic physics make each level seem new every time you play it. On one go around a solitary block might be waiting patiently for our heroes to use its height to reach and otherwise unobtainable platform. On the next play through that block might have moved in the course of battle and be precariously positioned over a pit of lava out of reach of all but the wizard's telekinetic grasp. It is easy to see how the realistic shifting, sliding, pivoting, swinging, and stacking of objects makes the wizard's skills of manipulation invaluable. And his ability to create new objects means that the same obstacle can be overcome in several different ways. Trine is never the same game twice.

Trine takes the standard side-scrolling platform adventure and turns it on its head with a choice of three heroes, upgradable abilities, and a realistic world where everything falls into place. Trine plays like a rich storybook with talented voice acting and a unraveling tale being told to the player in between each level. If there is a downfall to Trine it is that the enemies are not as diverse as the world they inhabit, and the wizard's ability to conjure stacks of cubes, planks, and pyramids makes some obstacles too easy to overcome. I highly recommend Trine, which can be purchased from the Mac App Store for $0.99 for a limited time.