Trine is a masterful platforming experience that's worth playing in spite of its high asking price.

User Rating: 9 | Trine PS3
In some ways, Trine is pretty much like any traditional action-adventure game. But, then again, there also ISN'T anything quite like it. I had come across this game with a passing interest, but it wasn't until I decided to give it a shot that I was instantly drawn in by its charm and beautifully-woven platform elements. If you can forgive its $20 asking price, Trine is an enchanting and fun experience--alone or with a few local friends. Simply put, you'll be hooked in by what it has to offer.

The story is told through a "once-upon-a-time" fairy tale narrative, and it involves a burly Knight, a disillusioned Wizard and a mysterious Thief, and how their paths intertwine and weave together in a strange and beautiful world filled with physics-based puzzles (ala a pseudo Little Big Planet), legions of living skeletons, and fun platforming. With scores of undead hordes ravaging a once-prominent kingdom that has now decayed, this unlikely trio of travelers must seek out an artifact called the Trine to not only save what's left, but also further their own agendas.

The game can be played solo or locally with two friends. If you go it alone, you can alternately control all three heroes--switching between them to take advantage of their unique abilities depending on the situation and the obstacle. For example, the Wizard can move and levitate objects at will, and create boxes and platforms with simple drawing motions of the right analog. The Thief employs grappling hooks to propel herself across gaps as well as shoot arrows with comparable accuracy. The bulky Knight is your standard melee fighter that lives and dies by his sword; yet when things get too rough even for him, he can hide behind his shield in all directions to block fireballs and enemy attacks. Only the Wizard has taken a vow of pacifism (i.e., not being able to attack in any way, shape or form), and for good reason--he hasn't quite learned how to cast a fireball.

Each level is cleverly designed with all three characters in mind, and it's up to you to figure out which of the three can best be used in any given case. In some instances, any one of them would do just fine--there's really no single concrete solution to a problem, but others are painfully obvious. (There's no way for the Thief to leap across wide gaps on her own, even with her agile legs or grappling hook.) If you play Trine with two other friends, you can have at it in a fun three-player trajectory. Although it might get momentary cluttered, having two friends helping you with the puzzles and monsters can be a lot more rewarding and enthralling than simply playing by yourself. It may not make for a party game, but it sure is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the multi-player component is limited only to local co-op and not online play.

The platforming elements are arranged in a 2D-plane, but everything handles relatively smoothly on the Dual Shock controller. Sometimes, the controls can get a little slippery, but it doesn't pose enough of a problem to be overly distracting. It might take some getting used to when you're moving the on-screen cursor to handle objects and magically bring down platforms from above, but once you get the hang of things, you'll be magically drawing boxes lickety-split. You can also collect items like potions and items that enhance individual character development and grant unique abilities and powers. The leveling system is dependent on finding experience potions, and for each level you gain, you can distribute points to beef up each character's attributes--like the Thief being able to fire two arrows instead of one, or the Wizard conjuring as many as five boxes; things like that.

Unlike the PC version of the game, Trine PS3 offers trophy support for added replay value, and you can always revisit cleared levels to tie up any loose ends like finding items you missed. Graphically, the environments are gorgeous to behold--beautifully crafted with inferences of a fantasy world clearly evident. And perhaps one of my favorite elements of Trine has to be the music. Yes, it's medieval fare and you've heard it many times before, but never like this. It totally sets the droll and somber mood of the game.

About fifteen levels round out the package, and Trine can be completed in five or so hours--not counting the bells and whistles of scavenging for all the hidden items, treasures and nabbing trophies. My only real concern is the high $20 price tag, which is about $10 more than most PSN titles. Still, for what it's worth, Trine is a fun and beautifully crafted platforming experience that's definitely worth checking out.

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