How does one revitalize the side scrolling platformer? It's almost as old as modern gaming itself, though while other genres have grown more varied and advanced, platforming has fallen to the wayside. To this comes Trine. Built on a solid foundation, this new platform game remains fresh and fun throughout its fitting length.
The story in Trine is negligible. As inevitably seems to happen in worlds of high fantasy, a great evil has overrun the world, raising the dead and generally causing mischief and havoc. The player takes on the role of three characters: a thief, wizard, and a knight, who find themselves forced to band together in order to end this blight. While the story serves well to set up the game, one can easily skip past it and just play, which thankfully is a pleasure.
Trine seems like your generic platformer in many ways. You begin on the ride side of the screen and head to the left, making your way over obstacles and enemies. What makes the game so unique is how it incorporates puzzles and modern gaming mechanics into the mix. Each of the three characters at your disposal have their own unique abilities. The thief can fire arrows and use a grappling hook. The wizard can use magic to move and create objects, and should you come across some enemies, the knight is handy with a sword and shield. Proceeding through each level is, in addition to basic platforming tropes, a process of solving puzzles and manipulating your environment to access new areas. For instance, you might use the thief to grapple to a surface and then swing to the next area. If an area were inaccessible however, you might use the wizard to create a box to give you a boost.
Additionally, Trine makes good use of realistic physics. You can manipulate things in the various environments, but your powers aren't limitless. For instance, you can use the wizard to stack boxes, but if you position them poorly they'll fall out from under you when you jump on them. Often, the physics don't factor into the gameplay, but they're still nice to have and the developers use it well to inject a bit more variety into the game. Another point in Trine's favor is it both looks and sounds great. The fantasy world of the game is colorful and vibrant, literally glowing at times with life. Additionally, the music helps to establish a constant aura of the ethereal, while the voice acting suits the story well should you choose to pay attention to it.
There are a few things that can be said against Trine. While the difficulty builds as the game proceeds, veterans of platform titles may not find it too challenging. Stages are long but there are plenty of checkpoints. Moreover, death is largely inconsequential. Passing through a checkpoint revives any characters that may have fallen and the presence of three characters that you can switch between at any time means that death is generally a hindrance, but not an deal breaker. That said, there are some moments where the death of one character can really be a road block to your progress. If you need the wizard to proceed and he's dead, the thief and knight often aren't much of a replacement. Honestly, seeing that all three characters can be used at any time it might have made more sense to just combine them into one character.
Those issues aside, Trine is a great game, well worth the time and money of anyone looking for something a bit different. It's close enough to home to feel comfortable, but manages to do things with the platforming that keep the player from feeling they're just jumping on goombas for thousandth time.