So I am a little under halfway through TRI: Of Friendship and Madness and I thought now would be a good time to write out some of my thoughts on the game. A Steam copy of the game was provided to me by the developer/publisher (Rat King Entertainment/Rising Star respectively). I have previously written about TRI here (an interview between myself and TRI’s developer, Jana Reinhardt).
A little background on TRI, to preface my thoughts: TRI (as it was originally called, until mere hours before the game launched) started out as a Ludum Dare baby and gathered so much positive attention that the developers decided to work it up into a full video game. Now, after three years of development time, TRI: Of Friendship and Madness is released.
TRI is a puzzle game about triangles as much as Portal is a puzzle game about portals. Players are armed with a little gadget-gun that can place triangles throughout the level that are then used as platforms to get around and collect the three fox idols that are hidden within every level. Things are complicated when the illusive fox comes around and plays tricks on you, like illusionary trap-floors or reversing the gravity in a room.
With that said, chances are if you don’t enjoy first-person puzzle games, or puzzle games in general, you won’t have much interest in TRI. But, those of you who have devoured Portal, Quantum Conundrum, or The Ball will be pleased with not only the delivery of TRI, but the game as a whole.
Put simply, TRI looks and sounds fantastic. The first thing you will notice about TRI is the game’s distinctive art style. Triangles are, obviously, a major theme in the game’s design. While tastes vary from person to person, I found the art style in TRI fantastic. It’s just a gorgeous world of shapes and ghosts, and I just wanted to explore every bit of it.
And then the music starts playing.
It hasn’t been since Gunpoint released last year, where I have literally sat back and fidgeted around in a level, purposefully not completing it, just to listen to the soundtrack. I’m no musician so I sadly can’t say anything in the flavor of what instruments were used (though I do recall hearing a didgeridoo at one point!), but you can check out the soundtrack (by Ludwig Hanisch) for yourself on Bandcamp where it’s also available for 7 Euros or $8.84.
I have some nitpicky things I disliked about TRI, though. As great as the game sounds, the audio that plays when the player jumps/climbs ledges sounds pretty bad. I included a sample video below, so you can hear what I mean. Those noises took me out of the game every time I heard them.
I also had to spend some time tweaking the camera settings (if you get TRI, set the Smoothness setting to 100% for a wild time), as between the ever-present grain effect and the camera bobbing, it wasn’t a comfortable experience for my eyeballs. The default settings made the game feel choppy, even when my frame rates were never dipping below 70fps. So I reduced the grain and nullified the camera bob, and that helped tremendously.
The story weaved throughout the game is the weakest portion of TRI. While I appreciate Rat King Entertainment taking the time to connect the levels together with a story, the narrative just was not working for me. The ghost of a monk is your guide through the game, and he keeps just teasing you about things, which is cool at first, but I tired quickly of encounters with him as it all just basically amounted to “there was a fox here, but where did he go, maybe you’ll find out in time”, and was trying very hard to be mysterious, without really providing any motivation for me to care.
As a puzzle game though, the story is the least important aspect, so this is really not that big of a deal, and the game makes up for the weak story in other ways.
As a puzzle game, TRI is great and required me to think geometrically, which is something I don’t think a game has ever. It’s a lovely experience, do check it out.