By: Derek Yu

On: August 19th, 2009

Trine‘s been out for awhile, but you’ll forgive me for being late to the party since I only just now took the demo for a spin. Developed by the Finnish studio Frozenbytes (Shadowgrounds), the first thing you’ll notice about this game is that the production values are very high. The graphics are fantastic, and I enjoyed the spot-on high fantasy voice narration that accompanies you during the game.

The gameplay video above should give you a good idea of what Trine is about – it’s a physics-based puzzle-platformer where you control three heroes with different abilities. In the single-player mode you can switch between the characters at any time. There’s also an offline co-op mode available from the options that lets you play with two or three people.

The game seems really polished all around, although I’ll probably pass on the full version, since neither the narrative nor the level design in the demo really hooked me. Everything, from the character’s personalities to the overall pacing and challenge, felt languid (maybe “casual” is the right word). Still, I think Trine does as advertised – if the video looks good, give the demo a spin.

The full version, which is usually $30, is available for $23 right now on Steam. It’s also coming soon to PSN.

TIGdb: Entry for Trine

  • Twist

    Game looks really great. Sadly I am not a PC or PS3 gamer so I hope the rumors of an XBLA are true so I can give this a shot.

  • Scott

    Look’s awesome

    I can’t wait to see how horribly my computer ruins it

  • tomelin

    Frozenbytes dropped the ball. Shadowgrounds was above average shooter. In Survivor they took every good aspect of Shadowground – and threw it away, making a decidely mediocre game, if even that. Now this…
    Its like they actually WANT to make progressively worse games. Someone should direct their energy, at least they could be a good technical team for a proven game designer.

  • Mooseral


    I suggest you actually play the game before deciding that it is crap. I played Trine before Shadowgrounds, and it is by far a better designed and more highly polished product.

    I must also say that the pacing in this game seemed to be just about right. Although it seems “languid” in the beginning sections, they are pretty much just a tutorial, and not half as involved as the later sections.

    Where this game really excels is in co-op play. The pacing also steps up quite a bit when you are trying to coordinate 3 people, surfing obese warriors around on magical planks whilst shooting flaming arrows at skeletons.

    I mean, OK, if that last bit didn’t sound good to you, you might not like Trine. But then again, you might also not like games.

    Seriously, the level design is pretty awesome in the later levels. Kept four gamers involved for several hours one day, so at least that says something for it.

  • Derek

    Yeah, I think some people will really enjoy it (and I’ve heard many good things about the co-op). It’s so polished that I almost feel like I’m just too jaded. But you know what, that’s not it – I just personally need the challenge to ramp up a lot faster. (I’m also not all that taken with physics puzzles in general.)

  • Mooseral

    Yeah, it is true — as far as a single player game goes, it does start somewhat slowly. Even playing co-op, we ended up just skipping all of the narrator dialogue after a while, and just getting to the meat of the game.

    I do, however, think that it is definitely unfair to call it worse than Shadowgrounds. I did try to play Shadowgrounds co-op with one of the guys I played Trine with, but it simply doesn’t have the polish or the thought that is evident in Trine. An interesting game unto itself… but not at the same level, in my opinion.

    The action-y skeleton bashing is not the focus of Trine, as is evidenced by the relatively low number of types of enemies. However, it is a real gem in the care that went into it, and the co-op game play that is possible within it. I also think that the slow ramp might make it a bit more accessible to people in general, and it seems like a game that both gamers and non-gamers might appreciate, which in itself is hard to achieve.

    It is late, and I’m probably expressing myself somewhat inarticulately, so I’ll leave off here.

  • wlievens

    Trine is quite fun, and runs excellent on the PC even though it’s not a PC-only game. The only downside is its length. I finished it in under 7 hours and I’m not a speedgamer at all.

  • aeiowu

    we played it awhile ago and had a fun time with it. i’d half-recommend trying to do a 3-player couch co-op session with controllers if you can swing the setup.

    even wrote a review about it a bit ago here:

  • Eclipse

    frankly i don’t think that Trine is to be considered an Indie Game, for example i’m surely don’t want it to appear on the IGF more than a Pixeljunk game.

    The publisher of Trine was directly involved in the development, paying a studio for all the voice acts and doing the localization in several languages, so it really baffles me that it’s considered indie, there’s nothing less indie than when the retail publisher of the game actually have a role in the development of the title itself, funding it or even doing active development itself

  • alastair

    7 hours seems fairly long game to me.

  • Ken-NZ

    Trine is an enchanting game that has something most games these days lack – charm. I would agree that itt does come across as more ‘accessible’ for all people, and not so much for ‘hardcore’ gamers.

    If there is one real flaw, its the lack of content. Though there are rumours of a level editor… If it did get released I’m sure you could create some pretty interesting levels.

  • themannyman

    atleast its not as lanquid or casual as aquaria. ;)

  • Alero

    Where this game really shines is the coop. Its like this game was meant to be played with friends. While playing alone you can pretty much just use the same tricks to pass obstacles. But when playing coop you really have to improvize to get all the characters across.

    I agree that the singleplayer more or less sucks, but it dont make the game bad. It would be like playing monopoly alone.

  • MasterShake

    7 hours is definitely a long game for a platformer, considering Donkey Kong Country can be beaten in 5 hours max. And that is a LOOONG game with tons of levels, all of which are level design marvels.

  • judgespear

    I remember it taking me a long time to beat Donkey Kong Country. Can be beaten isn’t the same as will be beaten. Any game can be beaten really quickly if you really know what you’re doing. Trine though really is a pretty short game.

  • Pictor

    Am I alone in thinking that this game would be far more entertaining if you didn’t have to keep switching between characters?

  • nullerator

    Indie or not, it’s one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played this year and well worth buying.

  • MisterX

    The singleplayer doesn’t “suck” at all. I would agree that it is too easy, but that really depends on how you play it. Granted, in most situations you really don’t _need_ to think up a complicated solution to a problem at hand, like how you can pass a chasm. What made the experience very great for me, though, was the _possibility_ to do so. The possibility to try out all kinds of combinations of the distinct characters’ powers, and there really are many of such possibilities. It also stays motivating through to the end as the characters gain and level up their skills, which enables you to find more and more interesting solutions.

    Mainly because of this, I had a great time playing Trine and it offered a lot of replayability for me, which made playing the levels again to find all hidden experience vials not at all tedious, but very fun.
    This way I have a play time of 11 or 12 hours by now, and I have yet to, and will, replay several levels to get all vials.

  • Snow

    Wow. The graphics and fantasy look are quite beautiful. If anything, it’s enough to get the game just for the levels – to explore. Also a very good use of physics for a platformer.

  • Arthur Protasio

    I personally think the game is great, even if stereotypical in a few aspects and casual in others. It does provide some nice puzzle-platforming, but it lacks in one fundamental aspect: online multiplayer.

    TRINE has a great co-op mode in which each player can take control of the three game characters at the same time and play the regular campaign levels together. The problem is there is only local support and not online. Given the fact that the game is sold on “Steam”, it’s been the only reason why I haven’t bought the game yet.

    As soon as a patch comes out, please let me know.

  • a guy

    Looks like lost vikings.

  • MisterX

    Indeed, online co-op would be a no-brainer and greatly increase Trine’s value. But, as the developers said, they just couldn’t do it within the time/money constraints. It was either making Trine the game it is now without online co-op, or putting in all the work needed for that and neglecting other aspects. Online co-op is apparently still a possibility, but at least I won’t count on it, I guess a sequel which features it is far more likely.

    And, by the way, concerning what Eclipse said: I also think that, considering the kind of development, Trine isn’t indie at all. The developers even said that they wouldn’t want to be called indie if that means that people think the production quality of Trine is low and that it is more of a hobby project, because it clearly isn’t.
    But, I’d still say that in design, or “spirit”, Trine is still very much indie. It’s a platformer, it’s creative, untypical, charming, was likely made because the developers wanted to make it and not because they thought it would be the biggest financial success they could achieve, etc.

    Anyway, the debate on “what is indie?” is old and probably shouldn’t be elaborated on here, but I think Trine is definitely deserving of being featured on TIGS :)

  • happy Kekskiller

    I bought Trine and it is really an adorable little game. A beautiful presentation, great music and sound… The gameplay is fun and very simple. It’s really a casual game, you can play it if you need a highly polished and fun game without getting annoyed by a too high difficulty.

    I paid ~22€ for it via special Steam offer, was worthwhile in my opinion. If you have the money: buy it!

  • Derek

    _”atleast its not as lanquid or casual as aquaria. ;)”_

    Touché! (Although Aquaria is more hardcore than this. ;)

    _”The developers even said that they wouldn’t want to be called indie if that means that people think the production quality of Trine is low and that it is more of a hobby project, because it clearly isn’t.”_

    That’s a stereotype that I’d personally like to get rid of… indie = unprofessional, hobbyist, freeware-only. Like you said, Frozentype has the spirit and seems like it fits the image of what I would want a professional indie studio to be – small, focused, and talented. The fact that a publisher helps them put out the game doesn’t mean anything to me as long as the game’s vision is uncompromised.

  • Cliftor

    I bought the game at launch because I was quite impressed by the demo and the previews, which essentially promised fiendish physics-based platforming puzzles in a game that was a mix of Lost Vikings and Flashback.

    I’m sorry I bought it (at launch price).

    The game was NOT bad. As said, the production values were amazing. While the story and characters won’t win any awards, it had a simplistic, fairytale charm which held up for me.

    The problem was the levels. The “physics based puzzles” were there, but only nominally. The game was just too damn easy (on hardest difficulty), and the “puzzles” barely qualified as such.

    With such a great engine, the potential was there. But there were absolutely no mind expanding or fiendishly clever puzzles. I guess the word for this is “bubble gum”. This ain’t no Braid or World of Goo. Those games take a nice idea and really run with it, so much that the player has to wrap their head around it.

    Because the Trine puzzles are so simplistic, there’s really no reason to replay this rather short game. Thanks to the beautiful visuals, there was pleasure, but nothing compelling.

    I wouldn’t pay $30 for it. I should have waited for a price drop.

    Still, the studio obviously has potential. If they were to create a DLC package of difficult “challenge” levels I’d probably get it.

  • bob

    I liked the demo, and found the pace and narration pretty relaxing, but I’m not sure I’d want to pay $30 for it. I think PSN are right to have decided that it was a $20 title, and I think the PC DD sites should have followed suit.

    I do find it interesting that it’s apparently a much different game when played 3-player co-op, since almost all of the puzzles have an easy way through for one of the characters, who you can just switch to in single-player. But in 3-player you’re forced to figure out all three ways through the puzzles, usually with each player playing a part in each solution. So it’s only when there’s three players present that it truly becomes like The Lost Vikings.

    I’ve also heard that the last level is apparently very much unlanguid, and the timed beat-the-rising-water comes as a huge surprise if you’ve been enjoying the pacing of the rest of the game enough to have actually reached it.

  • keska

    I checked this one out a while back, and it looked like a really nice game that, sadly, crashed every 20 minutes, losing all my progress. Uninstalled it and forgot about it.

  • ngajoe

    Yeah, this game isn’t excellent, in a World of Goo sort of way, but man, it’s pretty fun and nice to look at. That makes it good in my book. I bought it (At Direct2Drive, who’s also having a sale), and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Thanks, guys!

  • Eclipse

    @ngajoe: World of Goo is excellent.

    Trine is a fun game, very good technically, but still priced too high for what it offers (only one enemy, the puzzles shortly feels all the same thing).
    It has awesome graphics and it’s really polished so it’s still a very nice game. I got it full priced some months ago, I don’t regret it but I was expecting much more

  • Dominic White

    Trine is decent in singleplayer, but you really aren’t playing it properly until you rope in two more players.

    See, unlike most games where they get simpler/easier in co-op, Trine transforms into something completely different when you add more people, as with three players, you can’t do body-swapping.

    It essentially turns from a neat platform/puzzler with a physics-heavy bent to the second coming of The Lost Vikings.

  • Alex

    Trine is a great game.

  • Alex

    World of Goo is a terrible game.

  • Leandro

    Single player mode is too easy and a bit repetitive, while co-op mode (specially with 3 players) adds challenge and variety. Overall I’d recommend it to people who can play it co-op, it a blast! And the graphics are really awesome.