Release Dates: October 22, 2009 (NA) / September 17, 2009 (EU)
Price: 7.99€ (PlayStation Store)
Trine is an experience that will almost instantly remind you of the fairy tales from your childhood, where a bunch of brave heroes go on a rescue mission to save the kidnapped princess and defeat the evil once and for all. There is no princess to save here, but there are heroes: three of them, bound together by the Trine, an ancient artefact that imprisoned their souls, allowing only one of them to take a physical form at a time. It won't take long for the game to introduce you to its background story, which is nothing more than a typical medieval tale plot, where the cursed evil takes over the kingdom and it is up to our heroes to restore peace and put and end to it all. Once you're over that predictable background story, you'll soon be on your way to start your own journey, one that doesn't surprise by any twists in the plot as most of what's going to happen next will be right there from the start, but it never ceases to amaze you with its breathtaking landscapes and ingenious map design that makes each location feel different, alive and as if you were really needed there to restore it to it's former glory.
Most of those locations do have a background story, that will be narrated to you by one or more of the characters you play with, but once again, those are just tales that you are probably already familiar with. Just like the locations, each characters has a different story, Amadeus being the wise wizard, who spent his entire life trying to uncover the secrets of the fireball spell, which he still doesn't posses, Pontius, a brave knight looking for a job as one of the king's guards, and finally Zoya, a thief who tried to get her hands on the Trine for its monetary value, but got stuck with the other two characters instead. The enemies on the other hand lack any form of personality, reason or variety: you're just fighting skeletons that attack you from each and every direction, because they are apparently the spawns of the evil that is taking over the kingdom, but beyond that there is nothing else to find out.
Trine's 3-hero concept works incredibly well and once you get used to it, it proves to be an innovative feature that can drastically change a 2D platformer, making use not only of one hero's abilities in order to make your way through the levels, but combining all the abilities at your disposal and offering you unique ways to solve puzzles and avoid traps. You can easily switch between the three characters at any given time in order to use each character's abilities and combine them to find a solution that fits your plan. Trine doesn't force you to use one particular ability in order to get past a particular area, as most of them can be traversed in different ways, mostly because the game doesn't want you to stop if one of your characters dies, but instead it forces you to find a different path and make it to the next checkpoint so your dead character can come back to life.
As fun and intuitive as the puzzle solving system is, considering all the different approaches that you may take, the combat on the other hand feels repetitive, and even if you still have options to choose from when deciding how to stop a wave of enemies, the only enemies you'll be fighting for the entire game are skeletons: some shooting arrows, some swinging a sword, and once you get to see how the AI works, it will be easy to predict their next move and avoid getting hit by their attacks. As for the boss fights, there is no legendary enemy that you'll be forced to fight, as even the final level avoids direct contact with the enemy and the level design proved to be more challenging than the battle itself. There are a bunch of technical issues as well, such as monster exp that wasn't awarded to you for various reasons or characters getting stuck every now and then, however most of those issues can be fixed by restarting to the nearest checkpoint, so even if they are still an annoying thing, they are not a game-changing phenomenon.
This might not be the most beautiful platformer out there, but for what it wants to achieve, it did more than enough, bringing each one of those levels to life by utilizing themed objects for each one of them, making them feel unique and adding enough lightning effects to differentiate those bright forest levels from the dark caverns. Even though you can only move in two dimensions, a typical formula for such platformers, the world was rendered in 3D and the game will sometimes take advantage of that, zooming in and out during cutscenes, to offer a more detailed view of the world that you are currently exploring. Some effects could use a makeover, while others such as the fire arrow that lights up an entire cavern if shot in the right place steal the show enough as they are now.
Trine does not look like a fairy tale, but it also sounds like one, as each level has a short story to it that will be narrated to you while the game is loading, adding a sense of story progress even if you do already know in what direction it is going. In addition to the narrator, each one of the three characters will add to the fairy tale by detailing the story previously told or talking about an experience they previously had in that location and what they're feeling now. The effects are not perfect and there is little difference between certain aspects such as Zoya's power shot that will sound the same no matter what surface the arrow will hit and how much it was charged, but those are only details that will not stop you from hearing what the game really wants you to hear: its beautiful ambient music that makes the entire thing feel like a real fairy tale in which you have an active and full part.
Trine's campaign can be finished in less than 8 hours, but you can always replay the entire thing on a higher difficulty in order to obtain the missing trophies or just use each map as your playground to try out new stuff. The entire thing can also be played cooperatively, which is also a plus since you can reach some areas easier and collect all the missing experience; after all, there's no better way to hunt the remaining trophies than alongside a friend who likes platformers just as much as you do.
Trine doesn't come without its flaws and even if it might not be the longest adventure you've been on, it's certainly a fun one that feels unique and innovative, making you an active part of a story, that even though is well known from fairy tale books, offers a great opportunity to jump back into one of those worlds and see it alive as you would have imagined it at first when you heard your first hero fairy tale.