Now for the doom and gloom: bugs, cheap deaths, and spotty online co-op. The bugs in TRISTOY aren't the cute "Aw, look, the texture blinked out for a second" type of bugs. They're more of the "That platform didn't move when I pressed the button" or "The final boss battle didn't trigger" nature. Both of those were real issues we ran into while playing. Workarounds include crossing your fingers, burning incense, and wandering the local terrain for half an hour hoping two lines of code meet and fall in love. The issues don't seem to affect every one who plays, but when they do, oh man are they bad.
Another bug (sorry, "feature") relates to save spots and restarting the game. When you die, TRISTOY bumps you back to the most recent checkpoint and deducts one of your lives. When you lose all of your lives, you start back at the last save point. The problem is save points also act as checkpoints, so when you die and are sent back to the save point, you lose a life and the game is saved, making the life loss permanent. In practice this doesn't affect the gameplay all that much, but it's painful to see your lives siphoned away like that, especially when so many of those deaths are honestly not your fault.
Cheap deaths are the bane of modern video games. It's one thing to challenge players to overcome obstacles through practice and gradual mastery. It's another to throw things at you that you can't avoid or make it unclear when something will injure/kill you. You'll find a fair amount of the latter in TRISTOY, largely because of unclear platform edges and hitboxes that don't line up with the artwork. Go on, try to run to the end of a ledge and leap across. If you miss it by half a step, you're done for. Judging that half a step isn't as easy as looking at the graphics, either. TRISTOY's visuals have a very smooth, natural look, but it makes it difficult to judge your character's position, resulting in more deaths than you'll admit to in polite company.
One more note about cheap deaths. TRISTOY employs layered walking paths from time to time, allowing you to hop onto walkways in the fore- or background. These create some unique situations where you can scoot around enemies and find new ways forward, but the tradeoff just isn't worth the sacrifice. You can only swap between layers when you're standing on solid ground. Jump off a level three background and you have to land on a level three background. You can't switch in mid-air, there's no indication which layer you're on, and the game won't bother to catch you on another level. Translation: you gonna die, and you gonna be mad when you do.
And finally, online co-op. Some players, myself included, experience jittery visuals when playing online co-op games. The issue sets in after about 20 minutes of play, and it looks like someone's mounted your monitor to a paint mixer. Quitting and re-entering the game usually fixes it, which is good since the game becomes unplayable after a certain point.
TRISTOY's problems only stir up the vinegar only because the rest of the game is such an engaging experience. The multiple choice dialogues, story and gameplay work well, and you'll want to find out what happens to both the main characters and some of the NPCs as the game progresses. The artwork is amazing, everything from the backgrounds to the animated characters look like they ripped from that nightmare I had when I was 12. The real scarring experience ends up being the glitches and gameplay issues listed above. Despite TRISTOY's focus on great storytelling, the feeling you walk away with after your three hours of gameplay is lingering frustration. Not even co-op can fix that, unfortunately.
The Co-Op Experience: Two players work together to survive in a dangerous, surreal world.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.