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Joystiq hands-on: Trine (PSN)


The initial gameplay trailers for Trine teased some incredible potential. Yet, in spite of our excitement for Trine, we couldn't have predicted how engrossing the title would be. Even in its early state, we were mesmerized by the game's impeccable presentation and accessible, innovative gameplay. Although it's a PlayStation Network game from an independent studio, the production values of Trine are rather surprising.

The game begins with a rather charming narrator telling the tale of a thief looking to steal a valuable, guarded treasure. Here, a simple tutorial teaches you the basics of using the thief's grappling hook, and bow and arrow. She's able to easily traverse the environment, swinging across large gaps quickly and smoothly. All the while, the narrator continues telling his tale; it's a perfect blend of story and gameplay that helps Trine capture a truly whimsical feel. Eventually, the thief lays her hands on the treasure ...

The screen fades to black and you then take control of a wizard. You'll learn to use his ability to telepathically pick up objects with the right analog stick -- and not only can he move objects around, but he can create blocks by drawing a square in the air. Once again, the narrator continues speaking as you make your way to the same room as the thief did.


Finally, you take control of the warrior. Sword in hand, he's able to slash his way through anything that stands in his way. Eventually, he'll stumble upon the thief, and the adventure of Trine will truly begin. The three characters have been inexplicably drawn to the mysterious, titular artifact, and their souls are now inexorably tied. You'll have to switch between all three characters to make your way through the game's puzzle and trip-laden story.

The introduction to Trine is well executed and incredibly charming. Not only is the narrator appropriately cast, the three heroes are all voiced as well. Playing as all three characters individually made it clear what their strengths are, and the mystery of the Trine is set up so well that we're already intrigued to find out more. Thankfully, the demo didn't end there.

The first level is filled with various puzzles and undead enemies to slash through. Players must simply go from the left to the right, but the level is filled with a surprising amount of verticality and depth. There are many ways to traversing the level. You could use the thief to swing across a gap, or use the wizard to create a makeshift bridge. There was a tricky platforming path we avoided altogether by creating a block and jamming it in a gear, opening up a new path that was previously inaccessible.

Every object in the world operates with realistic physics. Seeing a bridge buckle under your weight is a simple cosmetic touch, but it makes it so easy to become engrossed in the world. However, what if you dropped a large rock from a high place onto the bridge? Would it break? The answer is ... yes. You may have discovered a brand new route, or a hidden item. Since every object can be manipulated, it encourages you to take advantage of all three characters and figure out the best way through a level.

Movement is very easy, and the animation is superb. Battling enemies with the knight is made even more fun through his very fluid animation. Enemies are affected by every blast of his sword, and will jump, dodge, block and counter. Players can use the right analog stick to wield the shield, a fast and refreshing way to block enemies that surround you. Combat is surprisingly visceral, and when numerous enemies fill the screen, challenging.

Trine is easily on its way to becoming one of the best PlayStation Network releases to date. While there were some stability issues with the preview build we played, the ambitious design and terrific presentation make it easy to overlook those flaws. The preview only offered single-player options, but the full game promises three player co-op, a mode that will undoubtedly showcase the best of what Trine has to offer. If Trine hasn't been on your radar yet, it should be now.

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