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Gaming: Trine Demo

The Wizard

I don't recall it being mentioned in the demo, but Wikipedia names the thief Zoya, the wizard Amadeus and the knight Pontius.

(image from Rock, Paper Shotgun)

Available for: PlayStation 3, PC (download demo from here): both versions played

Thoughts: Trine owes a serious debt to The Lost Vikings, a Blizzard game from back before the first Warcraft title had even released, let alone become the dominant Blizzard franchise and most successful MMO to date.  In The Lost Vikings you controlled a group of three Vikings and had to combine their skills to puzzle your way through the levels to help them find their way home.  Erik was fast and could jump, Baelog had a sword for close combat and a bow for long range and hitting switches, and Olaf had a shield which he could use for defending, gliding across gaps and serving as a platform for others.

In Trine you control a thief, knight and wizard who, due to an incident with a magical artefact (the titular Trine) are merged into one being and must work together to puzzle their way through levels and find a cure.   The thief is the high jumper and has a bow and grappling hook (so a mix of Erik and Baelog), while the knight has a sword and shield for attack and defence (so a mix of Baelog and Olaf).  The wizard is the most unique of the three, able to create platforms for himself and others (like Olaf’s shield), and he can also use his magic to manipulate objects in the environment with some basic physics, shifting crates or adjusting platforms.

The demo seems to cover the tutorial and first level.  Each character is introduced separately with some decent narration, guiding you through each character’s abilities and leading them to the Trine, where they are ultimately fused together, which is a nice in-game explanation for why you can cycle through each character with a button press (they can also be separated for some drop-in co-op if you have friends available, which isn’t given an in-game justification).  Despite having no names in the demo each character has their own personality, set up well in the individual introductions and furthered through occasional dialogue in the levels as the three learn to cooperate.

Once the tutorial is over the first level begins, and being the first level it isn’t particularly challenging, letting you get to grips with how the characters work in tandem.  Use the wizard to make a box for the thief to stand on so she can jump to a high point, use the knight to clear an area of enemies or use his shield to block fireballs, and so forth.

It’s not as complex as in The Lost Vikings because once you’ve navigated an obstacle in Trine with one character that’s all there is to it, you’re across with all of them.  In The Lost Vikings you controlled each Viking individually and had to get all of them across each obstacle, sometimes requiring sending all three off in different directions, navigating routes custom designed for them and helping the others by activating switches or removing obstacles.  So there’s much more flexibility in Trine, but at the cost of a lot of the complexity of something like The Lost Vikings.  The very first level of Trine isn’t supposed to hold up to the most complex levels of The Lost Vikings though, and it could easily become more complicated later on.  In fact, the trailer (embedded below) showcases a variety of abilities for each character that aren’t present in the demo, suggesting things could get significantly more complex.

Having played the demo for both systems, there are some little differences in the controls.  On PS3 you just press R2 and it automatically finds a viable grapple point for the thief’s grappling hook, whereas on PC you have to manually target with the mouse (which is obviously quicker and more precise than an analogue stick).  The wizard’s magic is split into two functions on PC (making blocks with LMB, moving objects with RMB), but on PS3 both use the same controls (R2 and the right analogue).  It’s a good demonstration of adapting the controls to the strengths/weaknesses of each platform, which is always nice to see.

Other than that the games were identical, other than it looked much better and ran more smoothly on the PS3 than it did on my fairly weak PC, and Trine‘s a pretty enough game that I’d rather have the best-looking version I can get (at least, that doesn’t require upgrading the PC).  All in all, Trine seems like a good game with lots of potential.


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