Finnish developers Frozenbyte are best known for the Trine series, the first entry of which I wrote about back in 2012. But their first game was the top-down science fiction shooter Shadowgrounds, released in 2005. It’s interesting because it’s a quality yet clearly lower budget title that appeared just before indie games really started to take off. As such it’s somewhere between the games that the major studios make and the games that we now associate with indie developers. Such a game could not have been made in the United States at that time; customers expected big expensive games, and digital distribution — which would soon make it feasible for small development teams to reach a wide audience — was only just getting established.
With the recent release of Trine 2, I figured it was time to play the original, which I’d been meaning to get to for some time. It’s made by the Finnish studio Frozenbyte, known for their excellent top-down shooter Shadowgrounds, and has been getting great press.
It’s easy to see why. The game looks gorgeous and has a great central concept: three characters, the Thief, the Wizard, and the Knight, have their souls intertwined by the artifact known as the Trine. They are merged into one being, with the player able to morph into each character at will. The game itself is a 2-D platformer set in a 3-D world, with various physics-based obstacles and puzzles that must be overcome by using each character’s unique abilities. The thief has a bow and a grappling hook, the wizard can conjure up objects to use as stepping stones as well as levitate certain obstacles out of the way, and the knight can smash skeletons and certain objects with his weapon or block projectiles with his shield.