By Matt Welwood / February 19th, 2015
|Title||TRI: Of Friendship and Madness|
|Developer||Rat King Entertainment|
|Publisher||Rising Star Games|
|Release Date||October 9, 2014|
|Genre||Puzzle, Adventure, Platformer|
|Age Rating||Not Rated|
The developer of Tri: Of Friendship and Madness, Rat King, is staffed by a grand total of two people. I knew this game was made by an indie developer, but I wouldn’t have thought a team that small could make a game like this. Comparing this game to another indie puzzle game that I’ve reviewed recently, Qbeh, this game is bigger, has more levels, is better to look at and has just as interesting mechanics, if not more so. How two people did all of that, I have no idea.
The first thing about this game that stood out to me was the look. It’s got a very bold, cartoonishly stylized look that I really enjoyed. The character design is very interesting, as well. There’s only really one character you interact with, and the look they’ve gone for is very unique looking (see the above picture). The sort of cartoonish colourful… I’d almost call it a tribal design… translates really well onto a moving character. The character animation quality isn’t nearly as good, but it’s not something that really matters, given how little you actually see anyone. There’s only the apparition and a fox or two.
Sound design is also quite good, but not as enjoyable as the visuals. The music is pretty entertaining, featuring, as far as I can tell, a didgeridoo (I think, or a synth that sounds a lot like one) on a few tracks. It has a sort of odd tribal/electric/folkish vibe going on that, while I wouldn’t listen to it in my spare time, I did enjoy during the game. My main gripe with the sound design is in the sound effects. They’re not bad — they fit the action — but some of them (switches constantly being activated and deactivated, the sounds of things breaking, things like that) do get a bit grating after many minutes listening to them. That was most likely because I kept falling into the acid pits and had to listen to the same sounds repeated.
The game has a story, kind of. In broad terms, it’s sort of an extended telling of a fable about friendship, and there’s not really a lot of depth to it. From the start, the apparition ended up being exactly what I thought it was. It’s a decent message; power corrupts, friendship is valuable, foxes are dicks, etc., but nothing all that inspiring. Not bad at all, but not unique enough to really be memorable.
The biggest thing this game brings to the table is a few very interesting puzzle-solving mechanics and tools. Your tool in this game is called the “Tri,” which may come as a shock. You use it to make Tri(get it?)angles that you can walk across. In the beginning, this is the only mechanic you get introduced to. Make triangle platforms, get statues, beat level, move on. A couple levels in, you get the ability to walk on your Tris at any angle. As long as you connect them in a way that you have a gentle incline rather than a 90-degree angle, you can use them to walk up walls, or even upside down. As long as you stay on your Tri, you won’t fall. It’s a clever idea, and lets them design levels in three dimensions, rather than on a flat plane with the occasional jumping section. The problem I had with it was that I would forget that every wall and ceiling is potentially the next area, so I’d miss where to go next. It may have been my own stupidity, but I think that, if they’d added a few more visual clues about where to go, it would have been better. Altogether, though, the mechanics are interesting and well implemented. My only real gripe with the game mechanically is that jumping is a bit imprecise, which resulted in my just missing jumps that, not two minutes earlier, I had no issue with, causing me to lose progress. Not a deal breaker, just a bit frustrating.
All in all, though, this is definitely a game to check out if you like puzzle games. The mechanics are solid and interesting, the level design is very well done, with a few spots that I think could use a bit more guidance. I do have one more small complaint, the voice acting isn’t all that great. Not terrible, but easily my least favourite part of the game. There’s so little of it, though, that it’s easy to ignore. Tri: Of Friendship and Madness is available right now on Steam for $14.99. Considering that got me about ten hours (if the Steam play time counter can be trusted) of game time, that’s not too bad. There are dozens of golden idols to collect, as well, so there’s some replay value there. So, if you like puzzle games, this is a very good addition to your collection.
Review copy was provided by the publisher
digeridoopuzzleRat KingTriTri of friendship and madness