Tristoy, a game bringing some beautiful visuals, some nice co-op and general fun gameplay, has earned both my cautious optimism and extreme irritation. From all appearances, I should really like this game. It has adventure, magic, and an interesting co-op and environment, but the game has too many problems to be truly enjoyable – except in a bizarre way.
The introduction and story from the get-go had me snickering. It’s cookie-cutter fantasy, with the evil Iron King (not at all looking like the Witch King) and his evil armies amassing before a prince and princess and bitch slap them out of their own kingdom. The player awakens as the prince, being tortured by a hip-thrusting illusion witch pondering what to do with you. Suddenly, mage attack! The prince, Freedan, now stands before an ethereal being that sucks a few years off of his life force, and the two set off on a mission to defeat the Iron King and find Freya, his sister. The ghostly mage, Stayn, will become a stalwart, humorless companion that slowly becomes a friend. Haven’t heard that one before…
Alright, I’m being a bit mean to the game. There is a good bit about it that I ended up liking. The RPG elements, where your responses can have an effect on the story itself, are actually quite interesting, especially since you won’t know how you’ve swayed your fate until much later. The options are pretty generous most of the time and sometimes hilarious as well. I’m not a huge fan of modern speak in a medieval or fantasy setting, and Freedan’s continued use of “awesome”, “cool” and all that focus-group lingo took me out of the decision.
Fortunately, I was playing as the badass ethereal mage, which is also good because Freedan dies constantly. Falls two feet to the ground? Death. Gets hit by a boss exactly one time? Death. Sticks his baby toe in sand? Friggin’ death. Players can level him and increase how many hits he can take, upgrade weapons, and all of the grand RPG elements – but the first stretch of the game is infuriating with him constantly dying. Of course, Stayn eventually gets an actual body (a surprisingly buff one for a mage) and can also suffer the instant death syndrome of poking his toe on a skeleton.
To put it in Zapp Brannigan terms: “Stop exploding, you cowards!”
On that note, the teamwork dynamic is somewhat interesting. To start out, Stayn has to use energy blasts to stun enemies, with Freedan having to swoop in and finish them off, either with sweet spin-kicks or eventually, a sword. Once his body is retrieved, Stayn also can finish off opponents with his… rock weapon, but no longer has magic blasts. He also has the capability of gyromancy, meaning he can interact with gears and machines, which is actually pretty cool when it comes to figuring out the area.
There is a bit of strategy and puzzle-solving involved in the beginning of the game, and it gradually becomes more difficult as Tristoy’s story progresses. My friend and I found ourselves having fun trying to work together to move forward and also yelling in fury as Freedan bounced off yet another two foot jump. The leveling for both characters helps improve each of their move-sets and attacks – if you can survive long enough to get there.
In short, the co-op is pretty fun when Freedan and Stayn aren’t constantly acting like lemmings. It can be engaging and forces players to work together. Whether players consider that good or bad is up to them, but my friend and I had fun. I used a controller and he stuck with keyboard. Unfortunately, the controller really wasn’t as responsive as I wanted, which was just about the worst thing when we encountered a boss or had to outrun something. The keyboard showed a bit more of a responsive input, but even the game itself actively encourages players to play a local game versus a networked one. Easy to see why; the network lag wasn’t terrible for us, but it was definitely noticeable. In hindsight, I wonder how much of that contributed to a thousand ways to die in Tristoy.
Tristoy is so close to being a good game. If it just had a bit more to its story, better controls, response and network play, I know I would’ve really loved it. It’s something of a guilty pleasure for right now; not quite the Birdemic of games, more like The Room. My friend and I had so much fun, even dying, that I really hope the developer team releases a patch in the near future so we can play it and die properly.
Overall, I would say hold off on the game until the developer has the chance to get some fixes in. If you’re really interested in playing, it is fun in a very bizarre way. Just be quick on the draw so you don’t have to play as Freedan in the beginning.