Trine

Trine is one of these rare gems, a sudden smash hit, that I’d never expected, like the magnificence of BAA took me by surprise. A game that you do have certain expectations for, but that’s nothing like it when you first see it. It makes your jaw drop and binds you to the machine for the next hours, like this probe did with Picard in “The Inner Light“. :P
I bought it last year, amongst many other titles (during the Steam holiday sales) and I thought I was only working my way through the bottled-up backlog, business as usual.
Trine is nothing like this simple plattformer, or superficial casual game that I expected. It (out-) shines those in most of its areas: graphics, presentation, handling, creativity, idea, animation, physics…
The game is a perfect combination of well animated characters in a stunning environment, moving through a nice fantasy backstory. Trine evolves around 3 heroes (Thief/Knight/Wizard), who are magically (and accidentally) joined through an artifact and seek for a way to go back to normal. The protagonists (only one of them is visible and switching between them is possible at all times) offer different abilities, whilst all of their powers are necessary, to win the game (and every level in it). 3 is key here, and the 3 protagonists can have 3 abilities, that can become mightier in 3 stages, through collecting green experience bottles (and some enemies drop XP). Every party member also has an inventory and (except for the first and last) all levels feature 2 secrets (okay the new* level is another exception and has TEN secrets [which are flasks now]!) in form of chests, that will contain items which can enhance abilities of all, or only certain characters. This is another stab at enhancing replayability, because more powerful PCs might be able to do something now, they couldn’t at first. There’s also a menu, allowing to start already unlocked levels instantly.
The levels start with a nice loading screen, that also features a narrator, who often talks long after the loading has finished. I liked the style so much, I gladly listened to it. Once the levels start, the voice work is quite sparse, but since the focus is the usually physics based challenges, this is no letdown (only the thief never showing her full face is :P). It’s still frequent enough, so that the story seems to develop constantly.
A typical level is full of chasms, spikes, time based obstacles or those, that require the right distribution of weight and places that are difficult to reach.
The wizard can levitate objects and conjure crates, planks and a floating triangle. So his services will be in very high demand. I love how they implemented the conjuring, to create an object, it’s only necessary to draw it’s shape with the mouse and it will appear in that spot. So with these skills, the wizard can circumvent almost every problem. That leaves fighting and fast evasion to the other 2.
The thief can shoot normal arrows with her bow (up to 3 with respective upgrades), or flaming ones. The latter can also lit torches or destroy some fragile obstacles. The coolest move however, must be the grappling hook (yes! I said grappling hook! Just like Batman! :D). Said grappling hook can attach itself to all wooden surfaces or the Wizard’s floating triangle (when it’s upgraded accordingly). Try the flying kick!
That leaves only the knight, this dude (as expected) is mainly for fighting monsters. In default he has a sword and shield (where the shield can also protect against e.g. falling rocks). The sword can be enhanced to be flaming and a two-handed hammer (can smash crumbling walls) will become the secondary weapon.
Last but not least, the game has achievements, that actually make some sense! While I got ~60 achievements in Dragon Age, simply by having a regular, unspectacular playthrough and not trying anything “special”, those in Trine require the player to actually achieve them!
Now I’m gonna go play the new level!

*Today (2010/04/19), it even got something I wouldn’t have dared to wait for: a FREE/new level (Path to New Dawn)! Steam rolled it out automatically (duh).

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    […] interesting and not some superfluous goodie), the game and soundtrack on disc and a Steam code for Trine 1 as well (so it’s ideal for people who are new to the series – […]

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