Day 120: Trino

Posted: 2011/03/09 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #120, and today’s game is “Trino”.

I first played Trino when Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) first launched back in 2008, under their original name of Xbox Live Community Games. I liked it then, but didn’t love it. Looking back on it now, Trino suffered by being a game that couldn’t show quite enough of its brilliance during an 8 minute trial period, as some of the best elements of the game come past that mark, as you start to really level up your powers. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, from the developer:

“TRINO, an evolving alien, must escape the NANITES, an insidious nano-robot swarm, that have imprisoned trino for his powers! Use TRINO’s powerful TRIANGLE TRAP to defeat the Nanites and break free from their Laser Prison! Evade, outsmart and destroy over 15 types of deadly enemies! Evolve for power! Over 48 challenging levels! Live scoreboard! Save trino! Only on indie games!”

I’ve seen Trino compared to all sorts of games, everything from Geometry Wars to RPGs, but the one game I haven’t seen it compared to is the classic Qix. The core of the two games feels somewhat similar to me, but Trino takes it in a substantially more robust direction.

The game starts you in a simple playfield, one that does not take up the whole screen. Enemies will flit in and out of the playfield in each level. Your goal is to trap enemies to rank up your character, and to capture enough enemies to advance to the next level. Your only weapon is a triangle shaped trap that you lay down point by point to trap an enemy (or, if you’re lucky, multiple enemies) inside the area you marked off, all the while avoiding dangers. It’s almost enough to put your in a Ghostbusters frame of mind. Enemies drop extra lives, leveling up points, and green dots. Moving on to the next level isn’t a simple matter of having a large enough bodycount, you need to earn (and collect, before they disappear) enough green dots to activate each corner of the playfield, and then create triangles that encompass the entire playfield to move on.

Every few levels you’re generally able to level up your triangle trap so that you can create more triangles at a time, increasing your offensive options by allowing you to build off of your previous triangle each time (meaning you need to only drop one additional point to create the next triangle) and earning bigger multipliers by trapping more enemies at once.

At the end of the first chapter, you earn a bomb that can clear the whole screen if you feel you’ve manoeuvred yourself into a situation where you will no longer be able to trap and/or avoid all the enemies. Enemies strike me as more varied than games like this usually offer, and different types of enemies act in distinctly different manners. The difficulty definitely steps it up a notch in the second chapter with newer enemy types that move noticeably faster, with more on screen at any one time, and more playfields of awkward shapes, but the triangle bomb shows up at just the right time to mitigate that, and you have unlimited continues meaning that perserverence should get you a good chunk of the way into the game.

The presentation is very nicely done all around, and leaderboards help with the replay value. This was originally a 400 point game, but has been discounted to 240 Microsoft Points. Just don’t make the mistake I made of playing the demo and concluding it’s good but not great, watch the trailer and see the wider variety of playfields and enemies on offer, not to mention hints of what your upgraded abilities look like, to get a sense of how much better the game gets past the 8 minute mark.

Tried Trino already, then please vote below. About to download it? Please come back and vote after trying it.

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