A lesson on how modern 2D platformers should look and play like.
This game is basically what I always imagined 2D platforming should look like in present days. The stages have 3D depth, but the action takes place in glorious 2D. The so called 2.5D and here the style shines bright. The visuals are amazingly detailed, more impressive if taken into consideration it's an indie developer that made the game with very limited cash. Indie games are reaching high levels and they keep improving.
There are 3 different characters the player must control in order to advance. A woman thief with the ability to fire arrows with her bow and attach a grappling hook to wooden surfaces, using it to go up and down or swing to reach unreachable places. There's a wizard who is able to conjure objects and use them around stages, like square boxes to jump on it and use it as ladder, weigh for button-pressing, or simply to throw onto enemies and kill them; he's also able to levitate such objects as well as objects not made by him but found in stages. There's also a knight, who with his shield and sword does pretty much what anyone would expect from a knight.
The interesting aspect is that you use them all at the same time, interchanging them as needed. By simply pressing one button the character is changed. This is possible because of the story which revolves around the three of them touching an ancient artifact of great value and power called the Trine. While locked inside the Trine only one of them can physically exist at a time. To reverse the curse which befell upon our heroes they discover they must go out on the hunt for the remaining two objects missing, thus releasing them.
So with that the game unfolds, the historical context in which they lived consists of a forsaken kingdom besieged by undead creatures appearing from the void and attacking everyone they see. As they go on the hunt for the other two artifacts the heroes will face the undead. It's true that little changes from the beginning to the end when it comes to enemies. The changes are mostly superficial like as the game advances some undead will carry a wooden shield, making them harder to kill, later some will breathe fire; but that basically it, you actually wonder if there will ever be some major change enemy-wise.
Although when it comes to enemies you'll basically fight walking skeletons from start to finish, a mid-stage boss eventually, some annoying bats – they really are annoying – and that's it, the traps are what will cause the players most trouble. Large pits of lava, swinging spike balls, moving platforms, acid pools, among others will cause the players the setbacks needed to keep things interesting. The difficulty is well-calibrated, closeable at the start, and most likely won't cause much trouble as the player gets to know the commands better.
Trine also mixes in some RPG elements, as the adventure goes on experience is collected during stages, each stage has a set amount of them coming from enemies and scattered around hidden around. When 50 of them is collected a points is given for each character which can be used to buy upgrades for their skills. Each character has 3 distinct skills also collected during stages, and the upgrades go from upping the number of arrows fired at the same time with the thief's bow or raising the number of conjured objects from the wizard, for example.
Experience is not the only things collected, each stage has two secrets which are hidden chests that contain items. Items are given to a character, and one character only, handing out special features like more health or resurrection opportunity. A limited number of items can be given to a character and once the item is gotten one character or the other must carry it. To make things less frustrating, many checkpoints can be found during stage, they not only restore a decent amount of your health (depending on the difficulty level), and resurrects any dead partner, but also serves as respawn place if all 3 eventually die.
A local co-op multiplayer mode is also available, and as it is controller enabled and accepts the Xbox 360 controller like a charm it shouldn't be hard to play with other 2 friends if the right hardware is met. Unfortunately online multiplayer is not available. It does though have a good replay value, it's hard to simply stop playing after reaching the end without going for all experiences, even hard to not try finishing at a higher difficulty level, and if you're bold enough and is playing through Steam, go for the achievements. Really, multiplayer is good to have but one that is functional and works with the game as it is, which is the case, but what this game offers in single player is more than enough for the price.
This game is a lesson on what modern day 2D platformers should look and play like, the attention to detail in graphics and music compositions, which actually fits the sword and sorcery style like a glove, are works of well-established developers, of course the game has its limitations like the first impression of edge spacing that seemed poorly calibrated at first but eventually I got used to it, but overall the result in fantastic. Certainly it has a bit of both worlds, the fertile imagination some indie developers put on and technologically advanced graphics and effects. If anyone is slightly interested in 2D platforming this game will be a blast, the eventual fresh ideas keep it interesting during the whole run.