First Level: Trine

It feels strange to be finally playing the full, retail version of Trine on the PS3. It’s been the victim of a perpetual self-reciprocating hype for the last few months, and the on-off release dates and last minute delays have only served to tip the supply and demand scales in the favour of the game. But here we are, 380MB later, Dual Shock in hand, getting through enough of the fifteen levels to give you all a decent ‘hands on’ so you can decide whether or not the game is for you.

Bear in mind this isn’t a review – if this is the first First Level you’ve read on TheSixthAxis, bear in mind that these are off-the-cuff playtest impressions and not a detailed critique of the game like our full reviews. That said, we do take great pride in this relatively new feature on the site and after a couple of hours with Trine feel that we’ve got enough out of it to accurate gauge the mechanics, visuals and audio well enough to come to some kind of conclusion as to the quality of what Frozenbyte have achieved.

Put simply, it’s flawlessly presented. The menus are simple but clear, the load times are brief (and narrated over) and whatever issues the developers were having with the game over the last few months appear to have all but vanished, although there’s the odd glitch here and there (try holding the Knight’s shield upwards while facing right). Visually it’s a treat, with deep, rich colours populating the 2.5 playing field and the character animation is top-notch too. It’s a remarkably consistent world even though each level has it’s own characteristics.

The game plays out a little like a next-gen Lost Vikings. If you’re unfamiliar with the 16-bit classic, the premise was that each of the three titular Vikings had their own ability and you had to flick between them to accomplish each particular level. In Trine there’s only ever one player character on screen at once (unless you’re playing multiplayer, of course) so the puzzles are considerably simpler and mainly just revolve around using the right man (or woman) for the job rather than any brain teasers involving all three.

The aforementioned Knight is the brawn of the group, using his sword and shield to hack through any enemies. The thief is light on her feed, is equipped with a bow and can use a grappling hook to cover distances. Finally, the wizard can manipulate certain areas of each level (a see-saw, for example) and can work magic to produce items such as boxes. Each character can improve their abilities by leveling up, a process achieved by collecting Experience vials throughout each level.

Whilst the game appears to have some length in it’s main story mode, the real challenge will be in discovering every last bit of Experience, something highlighted on the level select screen (already collected vials won’t appear again on repeated plays so it’s clear you’re making progress). This process will unlock the game’s various silver Trophies too, meaning you’ve got at least a virtual points-based reward for your hard work in seeking out the often hidden and seemingly out of reach potions. I’d hesitate to put a figure on the length of the game itself, though.

So, with the accolade of being the most expensive non-disk originating title on the PSN Store (it’s £16.99) is Trine worth the money? Well, again, it’s probably too early to say (I’m just starting the fourth level as I type) but I’ve massively enjoyed the game so far – it’s beautifully presented, plays well and appears to have some challenging areas and plenty of hidden secrets to be uncovered. It’s relatively slow paced, too, which is refreshing, and the multiple difficulty levels mean anyone will be able to ‘finish’ the game without too much trouble.

But we’re not giving it a score until we’ve finished it fully and got some of those Silvers. Cue the review…