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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Preview: Tri (PC)

Preview by Nick H. 

We have been following Tri for a while now, with a focus on the unique art style it brings to the table. However, looking at still images is a world apart from getting our hands on the game - which is what I finally had a chance to do. The early returns are promising, though there is still room for improvement.

The visual presentation certainly does stand out, as it has a very geometric, cel-shaded aesthetic that is simple and minimalist, yet often pretty at the same time. Geometric shapes make up the landscape, with triangles falling from the sky like particles of dust. The reds and yellows create an appropriately autumn-like feel that do create a sort of abstract sense of beauty and space.

That aspect of space is quite important, as it turns out. Things start off simply enough, with a first person platforming adventure that reminds of a less parkour-like Mirror's Edge. You'll find your character running, jumping and grabing onto ledges, all the while seeing what the character sees through a first person perspective. However, it is after the introductory levels are finished that the truly clever game mechanic reveals itself - and the title's namesake.

The ability to draw a triangle because your most powerful and challenging tool. It can be used to create platforms of a specific size. The challenge comes in stretching it out and creating a useable angle. Need to make a small bridge? That is pretty easy because it is a level platform. Need to reach a step that is just out of reach? That is a little harder, because it needs to be kept at an angle that allows you to jump onto it and stay on it (if you draw too sharp of an angle, the triangle becomes red to indicate that it is not fit for standing on). Need to build a staircase up to a really high vantage point? Absolutely doable - but it considers even more planning.

Not only do you have the ability to create triangles, but to remove them as well. Sometimes these will be the triangular platforms you create, other times they will already be in existence. The levels are designed in such a way that your triangle-creating magic can be used in a variety of ways. There is seldom a single way of doing things to advance - it is more about approaching a problem from one of a handful of different ways. The amount of flexibility to be had here is truly impressive.

Half the fun in Tri is experimenting to reach other locations in the level that are not necessarily on your primary path. Collectibles can be found by venture to these other locations, and the game offers a fairly generous checkpoint system that encourages instead of punishing experimentation. The music plays along beautifully in the background and I found myself exploring every corner of the level that I got to test out in search of these collectibles, and taking in the simple but pretty visuals. It is an almost relaxing experience - most of the time. There is a timer that tracks how quickly you play through the level, so if you are more focused on those kinds of objectives than collectibles, you can play Tri at a breakneck pace as well.

There is one aspect to the game I would love to see added before the final release, and that would be controller support. There is a lot of running, jumping, ducking and climbing, and a game like Mirror's Edge plays so much better with a controller in your hands, and I cannot help but think that Tri's movement would benefit from this option as well. The mouse and keyboard combination is completely functional, and there are people out there who prefer this control scheme in the majority of their games. To them Tri's controls will probably feel perfect, but I do tend to lean towards controllers when I have the option, so I felt it was worth mentioning.

Tri was a bit of a surprise to me. A lot of companies are good at making attractive screenshots to share with the gaming community, but fail to back the screenshots up with something genuine, but having had a chance to play the game itself, I have to say it is shaping up to be every bit as good in action.

- Nick H.
US Editor

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Preview: Tri (PC)
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