TRI: Of Friendship And Madness – What We Think
The world of first person puzzle games is a somewhat barren landscape, mainly because there is only so much you can do with a first person view in a puzzle-oriented game. Considering the variety that Anti-Chamber gave us, and the solid level design of the Portal franchise, you might well suspect that the potential for a new, pure puzzler played in first person would already be tapped out.
TRI brings to the table a simple, but powerful mechanic that is multi-purpose enough to carry you through the whole game while consistently presenting interesting new ways to deploy it.
Immediately, you will see how vivid and stylized the environment is; there are a lot of old wood temple themes that lend to the Fox Spirit idiom throughout. Some later stages even have some clockwork in the background for fluff, and yet the layout manages to maintain the feel of an oversized, multi-tiered temple. It all fits together in a thematic way that also syncs well with the story.
Working the Angles
The main mechanic for the player will be placing 3 points on the ground and walls that will generate a TRIangle. There is no limit to the number of TRI you can place – you can literally fill an environment with them if you wish. A few more levels in, and you are granted the ability to walk along them like a bug, provided the angle of approach is not too steep.
I quite enjoyed making a series of TRI to create a smooth angular road that curves up a wall so I could walk up and casually flip a switch before stepping back to admire my handiwork.
A few more levels in, and I could then use the TRI as a mirror to reflect beams of light, adding even more puzzle potential with an infinitely rebounding laser.
Breaking Not Bad
The placing of TRI is meant to be used and abused. You’ll be making thousands of them before the game is over, but it’s rewarding and enjoyable. You are encouraged to be a sneaky little bastard and break the game by using platforms and gravity-defying strips of TRI to get up to places where in most other games you’d not be allowed to go.
Discovering little nooks, crannies, and hideaways atop impossibly tall pillars and shafts will often reward you with optional collectibles (Golden Fox statues) that unlock extra features in the main menu.
The Gears In The Clock Go Round and Round
The level design is where TRI truly shines, though; since so much of your time is spent walking along the walls and ceiling, you could easily get hopelessly disoriented. But the layout and color of the various stages are such that – even though I was always getting turned around backwards and sideways – I never lost my way.
In some levels with twisting machinery and rooms that rotate in various direction, it was a marvel to realize how it all fit together, and, sometimes making such a realization led to solving a perplexing puzzle on how to get to the last key to complete the level.
TRI Though I Might
Your main enemy will always be you; your main obstacle will be your ability to navigate, plan, and comprehend your surroundings. Observation, along with the TRI, are your main tools for solving rooms and levels. Without giving too much away (Spoiler warning!) one level was solved simply by watching what was happening around me, being told by the narrator what the objects around me represented, and then removing clogs and blockages.
Method Meets Madness
If there are any sections that seem impossible to you, but you feel you can cheat your way past it with some creative TRI use, by all means, cheat the system. There is at least one level that I think I might have solved by forcing it open with TRI…but unless I go back and search for an alternate route, I can’t be sure!
You never know if that might actually be the solution that was intended in the first place, and that is why TRI: Of Friendship and Madness deserves high marks across the board – emergent, exploratory gameplay feels completely natural here.
It has to be said, that even if TRI were just a piece of art and not a game at all, it would still handily earn its applause.
Watch the launch trailer for TRI: Of Friendship and Madness