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Review: Trine

Table of Contents

Quick Info

Gore & Brutality Magic Sex Civility Religious Objections
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Additional Notes
This game is also available for Linux!


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Levitation tricks

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A Knight in his element

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Dueling archers

General Information

Genre:Platform Puzzler ESRB Rating:NR - Not Rated
License:Commercial My Rating:Children (6+)
Played on:Martha
Available from: Humble Store, Steam

General Notes

When Trine came out, it was quite well received, and for many good reasons. One of these is that the entire game feels like it takes place in a fairy tale's storybook; a presentation that really captures some of the magic and keeps everything upbeat when things start getting darker.

That said, there are some dull spots in its luster, making it less than perfect.

Story Overview

In a once-beautiful kingdom, the natural magic of the land has become twisted, creating soulless undead creatures. This army of the dead has ravaged the land, and most of the kingdom now lies abandoned. Protective magical seals have faded, allowing access to potentially dangerous artifacts.

The story begins with a thief attempting to steal one of these artifacts. The moment she lays her hands on the artifact, she finds herself fixed to it. Nearby, a wizard had been sleeping off the effects of a miscast spell. Hearing something strange from the building's treasure room, he went to see what was going on, and he too became stuck to the mysterious artifact.

Of course, these two were not alone. A stout knight had been practicing deep in the abandoned academy, and when he noticed the commotion he rushed out to defend the treasures.

...and ended up getting stuck to the artifact himself.

The spell complete, the three of them were bound by the artifact's powerful magic. Shortly thereafter they find that the artifact is known as the Trine, and in order to separate themselves, they need to search the land and solve the riddle of the Trine's two companion artifacts. A task which just also happens to be the only way to restore the kingdom and cleanse it of its evil infestation!

Gameplay Overview

Trine's gameplay is typical of a platformer with some simple physics puzzles scattered throughout the levels. The trick is you can only control one of the three characters at a time. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses, making it important to be using the right member of the party at the right time. To switch between characters, use the 1, 2 or 3 buttons in the top row of the keyboard. Otherwise, you'll be using the popular WASD controls to move around and your mouse buttons to perform one of two possible actions.

There is also an inventory and leveling system, though these are fairly simple. Each character has skills that you can improve over the course of the game, and since there's a limited amount of skill points available you'll need to be careful how you choose to upgrade. To level up, you'll need to collect glowing green jugs of experience that drop from specific enemies or are scattered around the environment.


Completely voiced, including a narrator
Between levels, a narrator reads some of the story while you view a map of your progress in a storybook. During the levels themselves, the narrator occasionally tells more of the story, with the rest of the cast reading their lines when needed. This makes the game feel like it's all taking place in a fairy tale, and it's very well executed.

Steam community features
Naturally, there are plenty of achievements for the player to earn, most of which are about collecting all of the hidden experience potions in a level. If you're interested in collecting them, there is also a series of Steam trading cards.

Each character's abilities are pretty balanced
While there are three characters and you have the option of which one to use, their strengths and weaknesses all end up balancing each other out. You'll need the Knight for his close-combat fighting abilities, the Thief for her agility and grappling hook, and the Wizard for his ability to create new platforms and block off dangerous areas. You can't just use one character all of the time.


One of the boss designs could use more polish
While most of the game is very polished and the various characters smoothly transition from one movement to the next, one of the recurring bosses does not fit this description. Its attack is too broadly telegraphed, making it look incredibly distorted. Worse, the animation can cause this boss to glitch through the player's character. Basically, it's something I'd expect to see in a rushed student project, not a finished game.

In game advertising
Currently, the game displays an advertisement for the newest game in the franchise. I'm not adverse to advertisements in games, but they placed the link to the Steam store right next to the actual quit button. It's almost like they're baiting someone into click the wrong button, and this just feels a little deceitful.

Physics-based platforming can be annoying
One of the biggest gameplay issues I had was that jumps are often just a little too short to reach their destination. While careful use of the wizard's boxes and platforms can solve some of these cases, it just becomes busywork after you've done it enough times. In some cases that won't even help, as the problem lies with platforms moving around based on physics. The best solution I found was simply taking more breaks between levels to reduce gameplay fatigue.

Combat is extremely simple
Although the game's tooltips suggest that enemies should be dealt with in clever ways using fancy moves, the actual combat just boils down to hitting the bad guy until they fall down. There's no actual strategy involved or required, which is actually a disappointment thanks to the game setting it up to be something more.

Concerns and Issues

None of the heroes are pure
Normally, fairy tale heroes are utterly pure and without blemish. This group doesn't fit that mold, for better or worse. The Wizard is described as being more interested in women than in his own vocation, while the Knight is a blundering idiot. As for the Thief, her actions are pretty much self-explanatory.

Some scenes can be a bit scary
Several of the images in the opening cutscene are pretty detailed, which might be a bit much for younger children. It's not "horror film" scary by any means, but it might be inappropriate for children that aren't old enough to be in elementary school.

Magic plays a major role in the story
This is somewhat obvious, as one of the main characters is a Wizard and the plot was set in motion by a magical artifact. That said, the game only features fairy tale magic. Even at its darkest, it's not much of a concern.