Gorgeous visuals, great sound and overall great atmosphere makes this a platformer perfect for some light entertainment.
From a wide perspective, Trine is a relatively standard platformer. Being sidescrolling like the good ol' ones, you jump, smash and shoot in all the directions the two dimensions make available to you.
The setting: The characters - a sneaky thief, a (would-be) Casanova magician and a rather dimwitted warrior have been merged together upon touching an ancient artifact, and would very much like to separate again, thank you. Their increasingly epic quest to win back their privacy leads them through a world filled with monsters and evil magic, and you may of course switch between the three characters at will, enabling you to overcome all the enemies and puzzles in a variety of ways. Smash your way through with the warrior, swing above with the thief or conjure and stack boxes with the magician - it's all up to you.
It's this variation that makes Trine fun to play, at least the first time through. The different levels and environments are diverse and thoroughly put together, the puzzles are many, and not being locked to simply swinging your sword against every foe means you can deal with them as you prefer: Jump on them from large heights with the warrior, plant a solid kick to the head swinging with the thief, or even conjure heavy objects above their heads with the magician!
However, this could easily become boring without some kind of progression, and the game has a simple solution that fits right in: You find experience points throughout the levels, some from enemies and some hidden away in bottles (yep - liquid experience). Once in a while you gain a level and can improve your skills, gain new weapons, etc. It's rather simplistic, and fits right in with the rest of the game.
The game looks gorgeous, to say the least. Though a sidescroller, everything is real 3D. The game uses a custom engine made by the developers, but it could just as well be Unreal Engine 3 for all I can see. Lighting, vibrant colours and other eye candy are used very effectively to create a great atmosphere, and there is never any doubt that you traverse magic, pulsing world, be in in the serenity of the forest or in the depths of the catacombs.
The sound also helps a lot here, there's never any doubt that this is a fantasy setting. Strings, choir, main theme on oboe - everything fits perfectly to the feel of the game. (The main theme is actually available for free download from aritunes.com, where you can buy the rest of the soundtrack, both in mp3 and flac format. Very nice!) The sound effects are irreproachable, and though I would like a little more "soul" in the voiceover, there's nothing specific to complain about here.
The story is mainly told by a narrator in the loading screens between levels, and though I would like the story a little more tightly integrated into the gameplay experience, it's clear that this is not the main focus of the game. At least the narrator manages to set a good adventurous and fairytale-ish feeling.
Trine is a rather short game; it took me about ten hours playing through it once. This is however easily doubled if you want to experience everything the game has to offer. Some of the experience vials are well hidden, and you can also find treasures with equipment and artefacts helping you along your way. In addition, the PC version (at least the Steam edition) comes with achievements. There are of course achievements for finding everything in every level, but there's also more creative ones like disposing of monsters in various creative ways, building towering structures with the wizard's conjurable objects, and playing through the final level on the hardest difficulty setting without dying even once, something even the developers didn't manage. (It wasn't really that hard?)
A little extra bang for your bucks is always welcome, and especially for us completionists it's good to have a badge telling the rest of the world we went way beyond the call of duty. Beyond the achievements though, the game has no solid incentives for replaying it, other than it being the quick and light entertainment it is.
Want innovation? Play Portal. Want an emotionally touching story? Check out Heavy Rain. But if you want some light entertainment this weekend or some quick breaks from preparing to your next exam, Trine could be just the game for you.
Note: This game also has a cooperative multiplayer mode. This is not included in the review.