Done Playing: Trine (PC)

Continue reading or just watch the game’s intro level. Sums it all up!

With Trine 2 having just been announced at E3 it seems the time has come to finally write something about my hours spent with the original. After playing the PC demo on my friend’s super rig, wishing I could play it on my own, waiting impatiently for the PlayStation 3 version, slightly upgrading my computer’s video card and stumbling into a sale on Steam, I finally had the game all to myself. But for all the anticipation it wound up being a game I’d play for an hour here and there and then put down for weeks. Maybe I didn’t want the magic to end or maybe I’m just not so keen on sitting in front of my PC monitor and mouse/keyboarding my way through a game anymore.

Don’t let my lack of firey commitment fool you, though. Trine is a gorgeous game, one that pushes beyond my meager GeForce 9500 GT and one that pulls off the same kind of fantastical whimsy of an adventure like Fable. It’s something in the audio to be sure. That narrator makes me wish I were English and that he were my grandfather so he could read me bedtime stories the way he does Trine’s poetic prose. Long after the next level has finished loading he’ll be going on about how your characters are in for a surprise or how the magical world used to be a serene wonderland. The characters play off of each other pretty well, too, but there’s some definite Eastern European voice talent at work here. Above all, though, it’s the music that makes Trine special. Despite the endless stream of skeletons and the detailed worlds the music almost always stays playful with horns and strings setting the tone more than accompanying the action.

Trine isn’t just mood setting music and glorious visuals, it’s a physics puzzle/platformer — the kind of stuff that’s right up my alley. The setup is that there’s a magical crystal that three very different people with very different abilities lay their grubby hands on at the exact same time. The Wizard, Thief and Knight are sucked into the crystal and only one at a time can come out to play. The Wizard can levitate objects and conjure up simple boxes and planks, the thief has the ranged bow and can grapple onto wooden surfaces to swing around, and the Knight is the muscle to push objects and deal with firey traps.

And that’s all there is to it. The triptych trio set out to put an end to a dark force bringing skeletons back from the grave and filling the world with booby traps and physics puzzles. You’ll typically encounter a new area, see what you can interact with or where you can climb to, conjure some objects or push some stuff around, fight a dozen skeletons on your way out and repeat. That’s quite the boiled down description but I assure you it’s fun and, just like Portal, you’ll soon be scratching your head for a solution and then laughing at how you managed to conquer the last impasse.

If simply passing through each stage isn’t challenging enough there are a ton of hidden Experience potions that are usually easy to spot but fiendishly hard to reach. You don’t need them to progress as skeletons are literally bursting with Experience but to find all the hidden treasures (which are ability augmenting trinkets) you’ll need the bonus powers and beefed up magic reserves that they unlock. Plus, they’re just as head-scratchingly fun to collect as puzzling through the story so stop moving forward and start screwing around!

Mischief! That’s the defining characteristic of Trine. From that playful music to the numbskull skeletons that you mess with by dropping objects onto, to the bouncy, springy physics that invite you to play around. Trine is medieval mischief, a fun little game that does its thing in a splendid looking fantasy world that I can’t wait to get back to either by playing the new DLC or the sequel.

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