Regardless of what else can be said about Trine, its sheer beauty is undeniable. The use of rich, warm colors imbued with light make this game a sparkling world of childhood fantasy. The plentiful supply of castles, enchanted forests and dungeons stir the imagination. Full of tantalizing detail, one wishes they could wander off to examine the environments, but alas, although the world is rendered in magnificent 3D, the characters can only move in 2D.
The story concerns three characters, the thief, the wizard and the lovable, pure-hearted knight who would really rather be sitting back with a joint of mutton and a pint of ale. By chance or design, these three are drawn to an ancient artifact called the trine that upon touching binds their souls together. They must journey in tandem to find the other artifacts that will unbind them again.
In single-player, you control all three interchangeable characters that possess differing skills and you must choose which one is best suited to get the job done. The wizard can conjure up and move objects, but has no defense skills, the thief carries a bow and can latch onto wooden platforms with her grappling hook to perform tricky jumps and the knight with his trusty sword and shield is a fearsome warrior. However, he can't swim with his heavy armor. With each having their stengths and weakness, all three play an intregal part in solving any given puzzle.
The player can upgrade by acquiring green-colored bottles found throughout the levels. Every 50 experience points, each character is given one point towards the purchase of upgrades to their abilities. Treasure chests are also spread throughout, which contain charms that offer the bearing character new or upgraded skills.
In addition, there are the undead to defeat. Other than a couple of minor bosses, most of these are in the form of spawning, armed skeletons. This is where the game is weak as there is no variety to speak of and combat is unremarkable. I personally didn't find this impeding my enjoyment however as the primary focus is really on the puzzle solving. Vials of health and energy are scattered throughout and hidden chests contain items that allow your characters to level up. And everywhere the scenery is a thing of beauty.
There is a system of checkpoints within the levels that replenish all the characters health and energy. If one of your characters dies, you can return here to revive them or if all three die, you will be directed back to the last checkpoint. This saves a lot of frustration in having to start the whole level over again, but unfortunately, the game is not saved at these points and if you shut down then your next session will start at the beginning of that level. As some levels are fairly long, this can be somewhat of a nuisance, so be sure to schedule enough time. Fans have not been shy at complaining over this and apparently Trine 2, scheduled for release in 2011, addresses this issue by allowing you to save your progress. Heavens, imagine developers listening to the fans!
Trine was my first physics based, platformer game of a recent generation and I was quite impressed with it. If others of this genre are similar, I can see expanding my horizons to including a few of these. Most impressive was the complete lack of any technical issues. It ran perfectly on my system. If I have a complaint it's with the menu system. I found it needlessly complicated and confusing and although co-op play is an option, it's well hidden.
Although FPS' will always be my first love, this afforded a very enjoyable interlude. It appeals to the child in you with its innocence, imagination and beauty.
Frozenbyte has released a new version called Trine Enchanted Edition. For those who already own Trine, the update is free. You can choose to play either the original or the Enchanted version in the launcher. For details see Trine Enchanted Edition. Improvements include, mid-level saving, online and local co-op, and new graphics based on the Trine 2 engine.