Tri by Rat King Entertainment Tri is a first person 3D puzzler and for a Ludum dare project made real it’s a complete treasure, a gem of a game. Atmosphere is what really leaps off the monitor with this game in fact if tri were a thing it would be made of soft brown suede; it would be studded with glowing rubies and smell faintly of sandalwood and myrrh. The combination of its evocative world music theme, its art style that utilizes particle and lighting effects with great subtlety and understatement and its unhurried thoughtful gameplay, whisk you convincingly into its timeless and sanctified world. So what trials does this game place before the, would be initiate? Well the environmental puzzles are solved by a combination of platforming and using your ability to create and use triangular platforms to walk upon, what’s more they can also affect gravity allowing you to work your way round a room onto the ceiling.
You have a few switches, gates, trigger-able pillars and laser puzzles but despite the apparent lack of game elements they combine to make a fairly infinite puzzle matrix. The levels can turn into giant MC Escher houses that quickly become crisscrossed with yellow and red triangular festoons as you pick your way around the puzzles desperately unsure as to which way truly is up? Tri started as a Ludum dare competition entry and was originally developed over just 48 hours. so developers Jana and Friedrich can be forgiven for thinking they would be able to bring the game to market if they spent another 48 days on it, two years later and the is enticingly near completion.
it was time well invested as the near finished pre order version is light years ahead of its Ludum dare predecessor in terms substance and polish. Something that stood out for me about Tri was how well it’s concept fitted the general zeitgeist of gaming in 2014 visually the game is screaming out for a VR port with its vertiginous drops and gravity based problem solving, tottering around on triangular platforms high above a marble floor can only be enhanced by VR’s natural immerse abilities. Also the minefield of social justice criticism that games face is side stepped by drawing the player into a space that is not of this world and by stripping all the game elements of cultural significance.
For instance the music has a strong world music/transoceanic vibe, the level design pays homage to the architecture of many historical cultures, the npc’s are minimal and comprise of an elusive antagonist fox that stays one step ahead of you and a ghostly masked monk that spurs you on with mild sarcasm but generally it seems to be making sure no one robs the place. Even you as the protagonist never gets to see yourself and you have very little back story, so imprinting your own personality on the game is inevitable. The game does have a story but I don’t want to spoiler it and equally it is a rather enigmatic tale. Whilst Tri shows clear influence from games like Portal or Antechamber but it has enough of its own flavour and original mechanics to make it a sufficiently unique enough to stand out as an example of the genre.
The developers Jana and Friedrich have done a great job as ambassadors for their brain child and after seeing wide initial interest from gamers on the Kongregate platform decided to work on it as a full game and to push the game to fulfil its potential. As a result they have jumped through the hoops to get the game available on Desura Gamersgate and soon on the steam network now that they have received the Greenlight. I can’t state often enough how important it is for up and coming developers to take their promotion seriously the indie games market is at a state that can be described as saturated and it is all too easy for real gems like Tri to be shot through the wash plant and missed. So am I saying that you should buy this game? Well at its price point of around the ten dollar mark certainly you should even though the developers describe the game as being 85% complete it is still completely playable and presentable.
Tri has an enigmatic and rather soporific atmosphere that is rare in computer games, i myself have already noticed my self-reaching for the game if I f too stressed or zapped to play something combative or strategic in nature. This is the game I would reach for in a chill out situation with friends partly because it’s such an interesting conversation piece in terms of its original look but mainly because it is so adept at setting the mood. Tri and an atmospheric environmental puzzler, enigmatic, inventive and fun for all.