by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
The Co-Op Resurgence
I may not be able to speak for everyone, but I'm rather excited at the resurgence of co-op games that seems to be happening from last year and spilling over into this year. Though multiplayer has become a huge aspect of the video game world, there's been a drought of co-op games for the past few years with the exceptions of a title here and there that managed to shake things up a bit. That's why when I had the chance to try out Tristoy, a co-op game claiming to revive the classic "metroidvania" feel I was ready and willing to check it out with a friend.
Setting The Stage
At the beginning of the game, players find themselves trapped on the island prison fortress of Tristoy; a massive tower high above the crashing waves of the ocean. In these bleak starting moments that the two protagonists, Prince Freedan and a wizard named Stayn, meet. They join together to free the girl and escape the tower.
Story-wise, it sounds pretty cut and dry but that is only because delving too much into it would reveal spoilers that would honestly lessen the story as a whole. There are plenty, and they are numerous. But what I can tell you is that - between all the banter between the protagonists and some of the other characters throughout the game - they've done well to bring to life a story that makes this game more than jumping and fighting through some appealing environments. Add onto that that this game actually has choices that impact the story, though mostly in minor ways, it makes the game feel like a slightly unique experience. It can also lead to some frustration between you and your co-op buddy, but it wouldn't be a co-op experience without a little dose of that now would it?
Together In Tristoy
The gameplay feels like your standard platforming adventure affair, with the two heroes jumping and fighting their way up and down the tower of Tristoy. Don't mistake that as having a feeling that you've been-there-and-done-that however, because everything is better with a friend and this game is no exception. By taking a co-op exclusive approach, the developers have been able to create an atmosphere where both players need to be able to work together even when separated to conquer enemies and puzzles, and even some run for your life from certain death segments.
The push onward through Tristoy will have you splitting up quite a few times to solve puzzles, or taking unique approaches to bosses and enemies that sometimes cannot be bested by just one character or the other. There does not seem to be a great amount of difficulty, however, which may put off those looking for a challenging experience. It's fun with a friend, but it's also on the easier side of things. Maybe it was because my co-op partner and I were able to work very well together, so results may vary, but other than some error on a few jumps and a very brief snag on a puzzle earlier on in the game we didn't encounter major issues. It was a fun experience, but it didn't exactly leave a rewarding feeling for either of us. It was a great effort to provide variety in the different approaches to enemies and puzzles, but without that difficulty it feels like wasted potential in many cases.
That much makes it easy to see why this game was designed to be co-op exclusive. If it were handled in a single player approach, it might not be as fun as it turned out to be. Even now, most of the fun of the experience comes more from just playing a game with a friend rather than the game itself. As a single player experience, I don't think it would've been anywhere near as enjoyable outside of the art and story.
When the dust settles, what is left is a somewhat shallow gameplay experience almost hidden by the fact that your only option is to play with a friend. While the art style is easy on the eyes, the audio is well done across the board from music to voice acting and the co-op experience is one of the most fluid for a platforming title I've ever experienced, the lack of difficulty is glaring which can make the adventure go from fun to going through the motions after a few hours. Overall, it's a decent co-op experience - I just wish it was harder.
Fluid co-op experience based around puzzles and combat, conversations between characters are enjoyable and unique based on choices, great art and audio.
The overarching story needed some more attention, the gameplay is on the easy side.