Something to Play: “Tri: Of Friendship and Madness”

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Two of my all-time favorite games are Portal and Portal 2. Story-driven puzzle games with puzzles that can be as difficult to wrap your head around as they are satisfying to solve. I long for a game that can provide me with an experience like that and, while Tri: Of Friendship and Madness doesn’t quite reach that level, it comes pretty close.

To explain the premise of Tri‘s story, we need to start with a simple assumption: foxes are gods. Now that we have that out of the way, we can follow a masked monk-like figure into a spiritual realm. There, we must piece together a story about two fox-god friends so we can figure out how one of the fox-gods disappeared… Well, the important part is that, to accomplish all of this, you have to make your way through a series of towers and dungeons.

To help you with that task, the game equips you with a devise called the Tri, this game’s answer to the portal gun. The Tri allows you to create triangular platforms to help you traverse and interact with the environment. And this becomes the crux of the puzzles: how to get from point A to point B with gaps and walls standing in your way.

Eventually the triangles you create will allow you to walk on walls, opening up a whole new range of puzzles. The environment will sometimes switch such elements as gravity on you. It all makes for a very fun ride.

Graphics are simplistic, but the aesthetics make use of a vibrant color pallet and a wonderful art direction. The lighting does a great job of mystifying rooms and highlighting trees (which, yes, have triangles for leaves). It’s a very pretty game, overall.

Again, it’s a fun ride, but not without some hitches in the track. I’ve mentioned that, by connecting triangles, you can create a path that allows you to walk on walls. But what exactly qualifies as a connection can be a bit confusing, meaning you’ll sometimes have to fiddle around with triangle placement just to see what sticks. Among the presentation issues, the voice acting can be a little flat, lacking the nuances to effectively portray the poignant tale.

But once it gets going, it’s a lot of fun to play. The slightly free-form puzzles are fun to figure out and the world is a beauty to look at. If you’re looking for another story-based puzzler, or if you’re looking for a game with a quirky atmosphere and story, you could do a lot worse than Tri.

You can pick up Tri: Of Friendship and Madness on Steam here. By the by, it’s 75% off until tomorrow! So if you want it, don’t delay.

Something To Play: “Jazzpunk”

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So I’ve been looking over some of the indie stuff I’ve gotten my hands on in the months before I started this blog. I may be plunging into that archive a few times before this year is over. One particular thing that stuck out to me is a strange little game, developed independently by Necrophone Games and published to Steam by none other than the video game division of experimental comedy network [adult swim]. Welcome to the world of Jazzpunk.

Where do I even begin with this one? Well, the story (nonsensical as it is,) places you in the role of Polyblank, a secret agent running espionage missions in an alternate-reality Cold War era. But don’t be fooled. This is a absurdist comedy, first and foremost. You’ll be asked to perform completely insane tasks to achieve slightly less insane results.

Need to get into a room? Go collect a bunch of spiders in a jar and let them loose on the guard. Need to fool a security camera? Go the copy-machine, take a picture of your butt and show it to the camera. Get the idea?

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As you do these strange things, everything happening around you becomes even stranger. Suddenly, your boss’s office is becoming flooded with water and octopuses. Now you’re standing in a creepy land made of pizza. It’s best to just go with the flow.

Actually, the best thing to do (in my opinion,) is to follow the story straight through on your first go. Then, after the end credits have finished, play again and go as far off the beaten-path as possible to see what else you can do. There’s pigeons to smuggle, frogs-with-Mohawks to escort and references to other video games to find.

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Both playthroughs will only take you a couple of hours, but I think it’s worth the price of admission, anyway. It’s really funny and I don’t think you’re going to find a game with this sort of look and feel anywhere else. What else can I say? Jazzpunk is a game where you’re thrown into a weird little world and asked to go see what you can make happen. If that sounds like fun to you, then hop on board!

You can find Jazzpunk on Steam here.