On the surface, Trine is not a difficult game to understand, as it is essentially a puzzle game in which you can switch on the fly between three varied characters. However, the basic puzzle mechanics and characters are mere underpinnings for the meat of the physics-based gameplay and cooperative play. The co-op was not present in our preview build, but the physics most definitely are, along with a surprisingly developed theme and production values for a puzzle title.
The three characters in Trine all have varied roles and personalities, not to mention strengths and weaknesses that you can utilize in combat and toward puzzles. The wizard is a womanizer who can use magic to levitate and move items around, not to mention conjure boxes out of thin air. The nimble thief is a young woman who is as adept as swinging from her rope as she is with her bow. Finally, the knight is a massive armor-clad man who can smash through foes and obstacles alike with his sword, as well as throw heavy objects around and block attacks with his shield. Knowing when to use each of the characters is key to progressing through each level in the game, especially as some of the puzzles cater more toward one of the three.
Physics plays a part in each of the character's abilities. The wizard can conjure a box, jump on it, and then levitate it to divine himself around but you must constantly make sure his balance is centered on it. He can also cause these boxes to fall onto enemies to kill them. The thief's rope can shoot out and stick to any wooden surface, though if it is loose, you can pull it down rather than swing from it. Arrows follow a trajectory based on their angle and speed, and while the knight's sword and shield aren't physics-based, any object he picks up and tosses surely is.
The puzzles in Trine aren't really announced as such, as they are more often than not either directly related to simply progressing through the level or getting access to out-of-the-way crannies. You may need to counterbalance seesaws with a box before running across it as the nimble thief, or cut a rope as the knight to allow a large weight to slam into place below. The puzzles feel natural and are usually intuitive enough that there is rarely the question of what you need to do, but rather the best way of going about it.
The graphics are ripped right out of a high-value children's book, with storybook locales and a series of colorful themes. The physics engine is used in many of the details, such as lamps swinging from an also-swinging platform, but effects like those are only on top of an already detailed set of graphics. Each of the characters has a decent set of voice acting, as does the disembodied narrator, which does well to complete the title's whimsical feel. To top it off, the musical score of the game sounds more like something you would hear in a Tim Burton film, and it's a nice backdrop for the game as a whole.
Our preview build of Trine was very short, but there is no mistaking that it has a pretty solid foundation from which to go forward with. The physics-based gameplay is apparent in nearly every aspect of the game and yet feels natural, and it is rewarding to use each of the characters to explore what things you can accomplish with them. Cooperative play sounds particular interesting because rather than switching between the characters, you can bring a buddy along for the fun. In either case, Trine is a puzzle game with memorable characters and a plethora of physics effects that genre fans should take notice of as it nears its release date for the PC, the PlayStation Network, and recently picked up by Atlus for XBLA.
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