With so many video games focused around violence it can pay to take a step back for a moment with a title like TRI. TRI offers no enemies, no real danger and simply asks you to solve puzzles along an esoteric journey. It does this by placing players in the Odd God’s realm and inducing them with powers unknown to regular humans. Now, you can create your own platforms, walk on walls, and refract light. Your goal is to discern how best to utilize each ability to find the totems required to complete every level.
TRI is played from a first-person perspective in an autumnal-colored landscape. Your goal is to meander through each of sixteen stages and collect three fox statues in each. Of course, finding them is hardly a mindless task. Many areas cannot be reached simply by walking and that’s where the puzzling gameplay elements take over. Players are taught the very basics of puzzle solving before being set free.
One simple puzzle example is entering a room with a doorway high off the ground. How can you reach it when the area is entirely bare? Simply create some platforms! There are rules you need to follow when creating from nothing. Each platform must be a triangle (aka: requires three points) and every point must touch something else, such as a wall or other triangle. Triangles can also only stretch so far, meaning you can’t make massive triangles as those would completely invalidate most room puzzles.
As you gain more skills, more rules come into play to balance out increased powers. Still, you rarely ever feel unable to cope with any given situation. All each requires is consideration (and maybe a few failed attempts); because you control so many aspects of each puzzle there is never any “one” solution. Some might follow the same concept but you’re never required to think inside the box. Each stage tracks completion time, though, which might make some players aim for efficient solutions rather than highly creative ones. There’s no negative effect from taking a long time, in any case.
Half of the enjoyment while playing TRI comes from creatively solving puzzles. The other half is from the distinct, gorgeous atmosphere. Its soft, inviting colors stand out as compared to practically anything else on the market. Then there is the sometimes Asian-inspired architecture alongside impossible, yet beautiful buildings. Why would a room have no floor and a huge drop to the bottom? These lapses of logic are purposeful, mysterious, and keep players intrigued about the space they currently inhabit.
If anything takes away from the pure enjoyment of the form, it would have to be a few technical issues with player powers. In particular, triangle creation is not always ideal. Sometimes you’ll end up with two points of the triangle materialized, waiting for a third connecting point. However, clicking again doesn’t finish it. As such players must click on each point to remove them. Every so often triangles don’t seem to work within the game’s ruleset as well. Luckily, between many puzzles, these issues only crop up a handful of times.
This may sound strange, but TRI offers a zen-like experience. Its mostly empty areas provide players with full control over handling every problem. Since there is no punishment for failure players should never feel rushed or confined either. You’re simply allowed to experience and play with a strange world. TRI is not typical by any measure and instead charts its own path to puzzle gaming greatness.