75Trine, the most recent release from Frozenbyte, is a new unique fantasy-based RPG. It is a 2D side-scrolling game, reminiscent of older platform games (think Super Mario Bros.) but with a modern twist “" it has absolutely beautiful graphics. The focus of Trine is solving tricky puzzles to progress through different environments, as well as bits of combat against an undead army. The most unique part of the game however is its superior physics engine; every little thing your characters do can affect your surroundings and help you move forward. This extends as far as shooting a rope with arrows to cause it to snap, to placing heavy objects in certain places to act as counter-weights.

Publisher: SouthPeak
Developer: Frozenbyte
July 3, 2009

You are able to play one of three types of characters in Trine “" the wizard, the thief, or the knight. You can switch between these three characters at will and without penalty, which allows you to easily maneuver through the environment and create a mix of ranged and melee combat. The wizard starts off with the ability to conjure boxes and move objects via a telekinesis-like ability, but learns new and upgraded spells as you progress, such as conjuring planks you can walk on. The thief uses a bow for offensive combat, and a grapple to help move around her surroundings. At first the bow is simply used for combat or to knock objects over, but later on you can even light torches via flaming arrows! The grapple is a staple tool to solving puzzles in Trine, and also fun to use. The knight is the typical sword-and-board character, equipped with a sword and shield to fight off the undead. At first it doesn’t seem like the knight is very helpful, but eventually you can learn new skills to pick up heavy objects or make yourself more effective in combat. Also, thanks to the very realistic physics engine, the knight is a poor swimmer and will sink when you jump in water due to all of his heavy armor.

As you move through different areas in the game you will have to overcome many types of obstacles. On top of fighting off the undead, you must also find ways around cliffs, moving platforms, spikes and deadly ooze. A nice thing about Trine is that you aren’t locked in to one way of doing things; instead almost everything can be overcome in various ways depending on how you wish to play and how you interact with the environment.

Character-environment interaction is really where this game shines though, as combat isn’t anything special.‚  When fighting the undead skeletons not much more is needed than jumping around and clicking your attack button, giving the game a kind of hack-and-slash feel versus a need for a strategy. Enemy AI isn’t very creative either, leaving you with the impression that combat was more of a side-note for this game.

As you move through different areas you will notice little blue, green, and red vials hidden in different areas, or drop from monsters you kill. The blue and red vials replenish lost energy and health, and these are rather abundant thankfully because you will notice that you may sometimes spend energy rather quickly. The green vials give experience, and are typically in hard to reach places and require much more effort to get to. Some mobs do give you XP as well, but it is not guaranteed. The leveling system in Trine if extremely basic in this way, and once you collect a certain amount of XP you will level up, allowing you to boost each characters skills a little bit.

There are also little chests you can find as you progress, typically located in places that require some thinking to get to but sometimes right in the open, that offer different rewards. Chests may drop items for your characters, or teach new skills for one of them to spice up gameplay. Most items have special bonuses to them and can be swapped between the three characters very easily via the character menu.

A hidden little fact about Trine is that you have the option to play the game cooperatively with up to two others. I say it is hidden because though the game boasts co-op play, when sitting at the main menu screen it isn’t very clear that you actually can do this. You have to first navigate your way through the options menu, then controls, in order to set up other players controls. This is definitely a pain, as it could take someone quite a while before they even realize how to utilize this option.

Blast Factor: Ultimately, Trine is definitely a fun game to play and has a captivating storyline. Combat is fun, though nothing special for sure, and the environmental puzzles remind me of the times I played games like Prince of Persia. Beautiful graphics pull you into this game, and the shockingly real physics and fluid gameplay keep you playing. However, if you don’t plan on replaying the game or playing co-op, which can get tough on a single PC, at $29.99 ($22.49 until August 19th via Steam) Trine is a bit expensive considering I finished the game in about five hours of playing.

Trine is available internationally on PC, and will see a North American retail release in September. A Playstation Network version is also forthcoming.

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