Nandrew: Right, so, here we are with a review of Trino. Made by a bunch of guys that call themselvesTrinoTeam. Let’s kick off by mentioning that we’re going to try a new review scheme for this particular game.
Chippit: Yeah, something different for the guys who were nice enough to toss a copy of the game into our mailbox.
Nandrew: This idea is courtesy of the cool peeps at Rock, Paper, Shotgun because we really think that their style is awesome and stuff.
Chippit: Well, we still have to be all journalistic about it. But then that’s all part of the fun.
Nandrew: Yeah, especially when the game is as good as this.
Nandrew: I mean, I loved it. Baby-making style. I would have babies with this game.
Chippit: I must say, of all the Community Games I’ve played, this one is actually worth its asking price.
Nandrew: Yeah, totally, and I’ll be dead honest, most Community Games aren’t a credit to their platform at all. This one thankfully stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Chippit: A teeny bit more replayability, with some alternate game modes, and it’d even be worth 800 points.
Chippit: It’s great to see these gems eventually showing up on Community Games. They show that it’s not all trash, and that there are people out there who can actually pull off good stuff. More of those, and players might start noticing the good ones more… and give these people some money.
Nandrew: Amen. But now I think we’re just rambling: let’s get more detail about the game itself! What’s it about?
Chippit: In the simplest terms, it’s about building triangles with your character by moving to and defining each of their corner points, such that you catch enemies inside the triangle’s area. It works so well because you have to dodge those enemies at the same time, since your character is not invulnerable.
Nandrew: You know, at the beginning it looked like this game was just some generic arcade action title, or a Geometry Wars clone, but the more I played it, the more I realised how unique it was.
Chippit: Yeah, the pace is decidedly different.
Nandrew: Not only that, but I realised that it was a puzzle game too. I don’t know about you, but figuring out each level was half the fun for me. You had to be a little more cerebral than just running about and blasting stuff with triangles.
Chippit: Agreed. That became particularly important with all the devious enemy combinations in the last few levels. You couldn’t really just blindly attack things, because the game had all these clever enemies that could counter you, unless you played in a specific way – which is difficult in those circumstances because there are other enemies that make acting a certain way really tricky.
Nandrew: Those bastards…
Chippit: They’re all really innocuous and easy to overcome on their own, and they all follow fixed rules so that you know how they’ll behave. But put some different ones together, and things really get interesting. I think that’s a sign of really good design.
Nandrew: I know, and I particularly love how the designers keep breaking their own rules as they progress. At any given point, you’re comfortable with (A), are expecting (B) and suddenly the developers hit you with (C). And then set fire to your Xbox controller. And take your cat hostage. And all the time you’re like “WHAAAA- OMG, that’s so clever!” I mean, I can tell you I got a shock the first time I met those buggers that actually ATE your triangles.
Chippit: I hated those fellas!
Nandrew: Good hate, though.
Chippit: The ones that chomped on your triangle corners were a real pest too.
Nandrew: Oh, those weren’t a problem for me. But then again, I’m actually good at games.
Chippit: Oh snap.
Nandrew: But yeah, that’s the puzzle element again. “Figuring” them out.
Chippit: The blighters that would dodge your triangles were really tricky to get until you got shadow triangles.
Nandrew: I despised those. Really dick move by the devs in my opinion. But overall, the difficulty balance was pretty well done.
Chippit: The first handful of stages were a bit on the tame side, but I guess that’s quite fine. You need to have a gradual difficulty progression, after all – you don’t want to chase people away with failure right from the start.
Nandrew: What I liked was how it steadily introduced new features. Even at the beginning, where every stage has a new enemy. Players are never left twiddling their thumbs or wondering when something different is going to arrive.
Chippit: And they put together some really devious combinations near the end.
Nandrew: And you were forced to use all the tools at your disposal and learn new skills, which was awesome. Take bombs, for example: before your avatar gets those, you’re going along just fine without them. Then, after killing the first boss, the game suddenly makes you NEED them. That idea is reinforced over and over again through subsequent stages until you’re bomb-dropping like a pro.
Chippit: Strangely enough, I didn’t really use bombs all that much. I think I had Geometry Wars rationing mentalities running through my head when I played, which isn’t really necessary at all, because the game is quite good at replacing them once you’ve used them.
Nandrew: As soon as I figured that out, I felt more free to use them tactically – particularly when closing up a stage.
Chippit: I used them there too… mostly because of those triangle-eating bastards!
Nandrew: Man, I hated those chompers.
Chippit: Clearly the devs have done something right with their enemies then?
Nandrew: Definitely. What I appreciate is the fact that they were never unfair. You could always outrun them, for example.
Chippit: Until you cornered yourself, that is.
Nandrew: Yeah, that happened often.
Chippit: The little rat-like enemies would often force you to do that with their weird fast/slow movement.
Nandrew: Oh, those guys? Bombs. Bombed the living shit out of them. I’d see a rat and press the right trigger. It became a habit. I hate those guys.
Chippit: On that note, I particularly liked the whole ‘one-button’ mechanic of the game. It kept the experience really simple for much of the beginning, as it taught you about the enemies and how you should approach each one of them. You learned to “herd” them and stop them from surrounding you.
Nandrew: You know, it really did feel like sheepherding at times, at least if sheepherding was awesome and filled with killer robots.
Chippit: If you’ve ever seen that extreme sheepherding video, you’ll know that even that can be awesome. Though that’s a discussion for another day.
Nandrew: Right, so, we’ve done enemies to death. What’s next? Story? Kinda non-existent.
Chippit: It implied that you were escaping from something, but I’m not really sure what. I hardly think it matters.
Nandrew: Probably not important, though Q-man would have a fit.
Chippit: Hah, yeah. What did you think of the pacing, though? Because I did find it a bit dull near the end of the first and second chapters. I think it went too long without you getting new abilities; or a drastic gameplay change like you had with the bosses; or the really clever enemy combinations of the last few Chapter 3 levels.
Nandrew: Aside from the fact that the game ended way too bloody soon, I thought that the game pacing was near-perfect. They introduced a nice varied stream of features in the first chapter, and then gave the player time to consolidate their skills. I found nothing wrong with the first chapter, but this may just be personal preference talking. Either that or the drugs.
Chippit: Mountain Dew’s not a drug.
Nandrew: It is when you overdose.
Chippit: So that’s how you finished 48 Hour War?
Nandrew: No, my friends finished that. I just slept; and occasionally pretended to be busy. But speaking of drugs (and by implication, hippy stuff), I absolutely loved the mellow feel of the game.
Blue backgrounds, fishy enemies, watery sounds… it was like I was in a freaking aquarium, if aquariums were awesome and filled with killer robots.
Chippit: I think the music contributed to that pretty well – it was really serene. Until you reached a crescendo, that is.
Nandrew: Oh yeah, dynamic background music! It’s such a brilliant idea, but nobody ever uses it!
Chippit: It’s something that Nintendo always does with their games, but nobody ever notices what a difference it makes. The more elements of the game that you make a part of the game, the more immersive it becomes.
Chippit: Although, on this note: the game had this really high pitched ‘pingy’ sound that it played at the beginning of levels. It became rather grating after a while, for some reason. I think it’s because it’s louder than the other sounds.
Nandrew: I experienced that too, then realised that it was my friend taking singing lessons in the next room.
Chippit: The game is really well-polished, though. No sharp edges and very few blemishes in sight. Did you notice how smooth the player character’s animation was? The way it’d twist when you changed direction?
Nandrew: I did notice! What would you do to improve Trino, though?
Chippit: I think that the game could benefit from some sort of survival mode. Or some procedurally generated levels after you’ve completed the main sections.
Nandrew: I’m still shocked that they didn’t put any in.
Chippit: It looks like something very well suited to procedural level design. I’m sure a clever system can work in many of the design nuances that they used to balance difficulty.
Nandrew: Because really, the game is currently far too short. It’s good for a few hours, but then you get to the end and you’re all like, “Well hey, that was awesome, but where’s the rest of it?” Kinda like what happened with Zeno Clash.
Chippit: I was expecting extra surprises, like the ones you got at the end of chapters 1 and 2. That shadow triangle thing? I loved that. It was really clever. The game just needs a few more of those and it’d be sorted, perhaps even for XBLA. Or at least they should have incorporated the alternate game modes idea. You know, pull a PopCap on it and just twist it up in subtle ways.
Chippit: There’s no grass. Zombies only like grass.
Nandrew: True, but it would be kickass to fight nanozombies with triangles. But yeah: aside from its shortness, this game has been a real pleasure.
Chippit: I agree completely. It’s a community game that I would buy.
Nandrew: Twice, even.
Chippit: If only it had zombies and survival mode.
Nandrew: Fair enough. So are we agreed, then? 9/10? Full score if they ever get around to including zombies?
Nandrew: Then congratulations, Trinoteam. You’ve made me proud to be an indie!
Chippit: Y’know, we should do these sort of reviews more often.
Nandrew: Yeah, we should, as long as the Rock, Paper, Shotgun crew don’t come over to chop off our fingers for stealing their idea.
Nandrew: Oh snap! And well done on the shameless plugging.