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Trine follows a very interesting twist on standard platformer gameplay. The heart of the game is simple. You need to get from the start of the level to the end. It's all done on a sidescrolling 2D level with lots of traps, obstacles, and skeletons in your way. There's also the occasional boss fight for good measure.
The interesting twist comes in the form of the 3 characters. You have the ability to switch between 3 characters who each have a unique skill set. This is done instantly thanks to the power of the Trine. This concept provides incredible variety and freedom in the gameplay. The thief character can shoot undead enemies with arrows, destroy obstacles with flame arrows, and use a grappling hook to swing from nearly everything in the level. The knight can slash, crush, and deflect the various dangers in the dungeons. The wizard has the power to summon blocks, planks, and platforms.
This might not sound like much, but it translates to great freedom for most of the game. You can get past the majority of obstacles using any of the characters but the approaches may be different. Platforms can be reached with magic or the grappling hook. Traps can be defeated by using the thief's agility, the knight's shield, or the wizard's magic blocks. This allows for you to make your own solutions to the levels and their challenges.
The real problem is the repetition. The gameplay boils down to such simple ideas. You have to get up to higher platforms, cross gaps, and kill a bunch of skeletons. That's it. It just continues to repeat itself. So much of it is just padding that it can become dull. The game really feels like it's trying to be too long. The skeleton attacks are particularly good examples of the repetition. They eventually spawn as many as 10 in a row. This would be fun, except combat boils down to senseless clicking. There is also an absurd level of repetition in the middle to late stages. It's fun and innovative gameplay...for a while. It then gets padded out for about 3 hours out of the 6 it lasts. It does have a challenging and fun ending, which made me a bit more charitable, but that's about it.
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The graphics are absolutely lovely. The 2D backgrounds are very detailed and vibrant. There is also a nice mix for the most part. Dark castle levels turn to lush forest and swamps and then loop back to undead fortresses. The character models are also well done and really come to life as you swing and jump around the terrain. Special mention should probably go to the skeletons, which have detailed animations for climbing, different fighting styles, and death animations.
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The game isn't too demanding on your system. It only requires 2.0 ghz of processing power, 512 mb of RAM, and it will work with cards on the lower end of the gaming spectrum, like the ATI X800 and the Nvidia Geforce 6800. I personally played with my XPS. I had 3 gigs of RAM, dual processors, and an Nvidia 8700 card, so I really didn't have any problems. I ran it with everything maxed out at 1920 x 1200.
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I was a little torn about whether to give this a thumbs u p or thumbs down. The biggest problem for me is probably the price. I'm just not sure if it's worth $30. It would be perfect for the $15 range, but $30 is asking a bit too much. Especially when I honestly felt like an hour of the game was just a painful chore.
That said, I really liked this new twist on the platformer. You really could do it however you wished. There was room for just about any playing style and real room for skill. I felt good when I first managed to swing up and around a beam to get a potion. This is just something really cool for a genre that doesn't see a whole lot of innovation. The graphics and artwork are also just beautiful, which earns it an extra star.
If the release price tag of $30 doesn't bother you then this is a game that you should definitely check out. It has its bad moments, but I really felt like it's style and freedom made up for it. Those who aren't as interested in platformers might want to wait for a sale.