While exploring the Atlus booth, we stumbled upon Trine, a multiplayer-focused side-scrolling platformer that is, at first blush, somewhat reminiscent of Lost Vikings. Trine features three unique characters: a knight, a thief, and a wizard. The characters must work together to traverse the 15 or so levels that the final game will provide.
Each character is completely unique and serves a very distinct purpose. The soldier is the brute of the bunch, using his sword to rock foes at close range, and his shield to defend attacks from any direction. The thief is more of a long-range fighter, using her bow & arrow to target distant foes. She also has a grappling hook, which lets her swing from overhead objects to reach secret locations. Finally, the wizard has no physical attacks at all, instead relying on his magic to help the group push forward by moving heavy objects or creating them out of thin air. The combination of the three provides a very interesting balance and gives each character a true sense of purpose.
We only had the chance to explore the lengthy first level, but what we saw impressed. The controls were tight and responsive, which made jumping between platforms a breeze. We started off playing as the thief, effortlessly swinging across chasms using her grappling hook and taking down the attacking skeletons using the bow & arrow, which is controlled via the right stick, allowing for incredible precision. However, we soon found ourselves outnumbered by the undead, forcing us to switch to the knight, with whom we made short work of them with a barrage of sword attacks. However, even the knight was no match for the cliff wall that we soon faced. Having exhausted all of our options, we switched to the wizard and used his magic abilities to draw a square (using the onscreen cursor, controlled with the right-stick), which created a block that we could use to reach the ledge above. This was a pretty cool ability, with the size of the block determined by how large we drew it. However, we did have some trouble with the game recognizing our drawn shapes, and controlling the cursor became cumbersome if the screen zoomed in and out, as it often does with your teammates bustling around.
Trine plays a bit differently depending on whether you're playing alone or with friends. If you're playing by yourself, you can transform between any of the three characters on the fly. However, if you're playing with friends, each of you must play as a different character, which means that you won't be able to have multiple wizards running amok. As such, you won't be able to switch characters at all with three players, but this shouldn't be much of a problem because all three are engaging in their own way. When asked whether the levels would change at all depending on the amount of players, the Atlus representative responded that they wouldn't, but that the manner in which you solve the puzzles would.
Environmental puzzles play an important role in Twine, requiring use of all three characters to solve them. For example, we reached a chasm early into the first level with several wooden planks hanging below. We discovered that the wizard was able to use his magic to spin the planks around, resting them on one another, creating a bridge to the other side. It's a testament to the game's design that the environmental puzzles are fun to solve whether you're alone or playing with friends. Furthermore, we want to call attention to the fantastic visual presentation; it's almost difficult to believe that the game's a downloadable title, given that the production values certainly seem retail-worthy.
The developers of Trine are aiming for a September release on both the PlayStation 3 and PC and expect it to be priced between $15 to $20.