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Tristoy: Buddy Dungeon Crawl

Company: Headup Games

Tristoy is a risky proposition. Itís a side-scrolling action game in the vein of Metroid or later Castlevania games with a deep story built around your dialogue responses. It is huge, looks beautiful, and comes packed with a variety of puzzles. So whatís the problem? Itís built from the ground up as a two-player game. Although a single-player could conceivably play the game split-screen jumping between a controller and keyboard, it is a less-than-optimal experience (believe me, I tried).

Players choose between two characters: a prince and a hulking magic wielder. Everything kicks off with the prince held captive by a witch. As she tortures the prince in his cell Emperor Palpatine style, youíre offered your first look at the dialogue choices available. You can submit to the witchís torture, or continue to defy her demands. Your decision isnít immediately noticeable, though it will come up later. At first I was put off by Tristoyís somewhat wordy dialogue, though it is well written Ė so it is hard to fault the game for wanting to include a lot of it throughout the experience.

Regardless of choice, the princeís torture comes to an abrupt end in spectacular faction. A nearby wall explodes, knocking the witch away, revealing a glowing wizard. From here, the game starts with each player taking control of a character and fighting their way out of a labyrinthine dungeon. Each character has their own abilities. The prince, for example, can interact with physical objects in the environment, while the wizard can use magic to manipulate objects.

Much of Tristoy is built around puzzle-solving. Some are easy, while others take some thought, requiring coordination to get past certain challenge. For example, one of the first puzzles requires the two characters to figure out how to release the prince from his dangling cell and escape the first room. This requires the wizard to manipulate the broken gear system while the prince just needs to survive. These sorts of puzzles are scattered throughout the game and make excellent use of each characterís ability set.

Rather than simply placing two characters in a massive level, each offers a different play experience. Playing as the prince offers a "standard" action experience; he can run, jump, and sword fight his way through levels. Meanwhile, the wizard has a compliment of spells at his disposal and is primarily a slow, ranged character. Another cool aspect of playing as the wizard is he canít die while in ghost form, which helps a lot. Although youíll make the most use of each playerís skills during puzzles, combat situations also require players to play off each otherís strengths. Itís a really cool, innovative approach to the playstyle.

But, once again, gameplay is where Tristory makes a massive roll of the dice. You can attempt to play both characters at once, but it wonít work for long. Itís possible early on, but as the game grows in complexity, there are sections where youíll need to do two things at once. Iím sure a "Solo Playthrough" will hit YouTube at some point, but if you want to play Tristoy, youíll need to find someone to join you on your adventure, either online or sharing a monitor (with LEGO style split-screen play.

As much of a gamble as Tristoy is, it is shaping up as a fun game if you have a reliable co-op partner.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Related Links:

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated