Update: An odd bug involving plugged in USB peripherals was causing a number of the performance issues I mentioned. I’m leaving the text relatively unchanged and updated my final verdict. Thanks to Joel of FrozenByte for the fix.
I’ve been wanting to buy the physics based puzzle platformer, Trine, since mid-2009. But I was always waiting and waiting for the eventual PSN release. When it was finally made available in North America, it was right in the middle of the 2009 holiday gaming blitz. I also heard unflattering things concerning the game’s performance. At $19.99? I’m wasn’t going to take the gamble on that. So I decided to wait and months later I was able to download it for $9.99.
I’m so glad I waited for the sale. This game does run like garbage and is fine example of a great idea marred by technical issues.
What is Trine about? Three characters touched a mythical object and were bound together. And I have the pleasure of taking them through a myriad of dungeons, caves, ruins and forests in search of a way to separate them. With the thief, the warrior, the wizard and their differing abilities, there were a number different approaches to each of the 15 levels. And within each of them, were many items and experience vials to collect which can be mini-challenges within themselves. There’s quite a bit of game to be played here.
Trine is a beautiful game to look at. It’s really difficult to find a section of the game that isn’t the case. This beauty though, was held above everything else and as a result gameplay suffered. 30 frames per second seems to be the cap, but I’d eat my shoe if you can find a level (beyond the first one) that ran at framerate consistently. And it got progressively worse as the developer, FrozenByte, threw fancier special effects and lighting into their levels. Honestly, if I wanted the game to run like it does on the PlayStation 3, I would have purchased the PC version.
This was obviously a game which originated from the PC as everything was gestured based. Drawing squares and triangles as the wizard worked for the majority of the game, but the last level exposed the inadequacy of the controller. Under the pressure of time, using the controller to draw boxes and platforms on demand is a task best avoided. I was better off sticking with Thief and her grappling hook, but even that was a bit tricky during those circumstances.
Ignoring the minor technical issues and the final level, Trine was an enjoyable game. Just the fact that it was an original side-scrolling platformer was enough of a reason to get excited. The music was charming, the visuals were amazingly detailed and the majority of the game itself was wondrously designed. I would recommend Trine to everyone — just as long as they don’t play it on the PlayStation 3.
For more information on Trine, visit the official website.