Easy to learn, challenging to master
Every now and then a game will come along and try to offer something different in an attempt to stand out from the crowd. BlueGiant Interactive’s Tryst tries to do just that within the strategy genre; a difficult goal to achieve considering all the great franchises out there.
The game’s setting is in 2900 AD on the planet Ithonia IV. Humans and a synthetic race known as the Zali exist on this planet, working together to mine and process the rare compound Lohum. That is until both sides see each other as a threat and the Ishtonian Wars begin.
I took on the role of Oliver Petrovich, son of the Overseer in charge of the human government, who finds himself thrust into a leadership role. It is up to him to stop the Zali advance while trying to broker a truce with the rebel factions led by Aeryn Ozarr. And so my journey began.
As an RTS the pace is faster than most of the other titles within the genre. Command & Conquer, Warcraft, Total War, and Starcraft all have their set speed but Tryst’s faster rate fits in with what the developers had in mind. As I played the multiplayer campaign I found matches lasting anywhere from around 12 to 30 minutes. This was a huge difference compared to many RTS games I have played that can last around 20 minutes to an hour depending on the skill of the players.
Surprisingly, the game seems to have quite a bit in common with Blizzard’s Starcraft II when it comes to aesthetics. From the look of the units, structures, and user interface, all seem to take their cues from SCII. But Tryst’s gameplay certainly differentiates itself from the well-known strategy title.
The economy consists of nothing more than capture points called Resource Generators that automatically collect resources (Ore and Energy) for you without the need to recruit units that would collect these elements. This meant that I didn’t have to focus on the minutiae of resource gathering. Instead I shifted my attention to deploying my forces and attacking my opponent as I raced around the map capturing the various resource nodes.
While doing this I also had to keep an eye on my unit’s Energy, which can run out. The worst thing that could happen to me was winning an engagement and suddenly discovering that my units could no longer fight because they ran out of ammo due to my negligence. It was pretty embarrassing and very costly.
The majority of my time I played as the Humans, one of two factions in the game, which have their standard units for bio, mechanical, and air available through three buildings. The Barracks produces ground units, the Vehicle Factory provides vehicle support, and the Airport boosts air superiority.
If anything, the Human faction is very simple and easy to figure out. The Zali, on the other hand, are a bit more difficult to grasp. For those familiar with Starcraft II, think of them as if the Zerg and Protoss were merged into one race. With the Zali, units are able to merge, evolve, or spawn other units. Harvesters, for example, can spawn two types of little units: the Savior Drone will attack air and ground units while a Knitter Drone will heal. The Harvester itself can’t attack but it can collect the remains of fallen Zali in order to create new units.
Aside from the units the Zali also have three paths to choose from and these dictate the type of units that can be created. Each path has its own building that can be upgraded in order to recruit different units. The Path of Silence, for example, allowed me to focus on stealth and mobility upgrades, while the Path of Strife offered improvements focused on direct attacks, just as the Path of Preservation took a more defensive direction.
Another point of customization is in the ARM system, or Augmentation Research Mechanism, a system that unlocks passive traits or abilities that can be chosen in order to customize units. For example, for the Human Merc unit the first tier allowed me to choose between a passive ability that gave it +2 damage or an active ability that gave them +5 armor for five seconds with a 30-second cooldown. Each unit had its own set of abilities that increased as I upgraded my buildings, allowing me to further customize them to my needs.
Another little feature that Tryst has is that ground units receive a substantial defensive bonus when taking cover behind barriers. This further adds to the game’s strategy, allowing defensive players to take advantage of the terrain.
What all this adds up to is a multiplayer game that can appeal to both casual and hardcore players. On one hand it offers a low-entry level with the Humans while the Zali offer a higher-entry barrier for veteran players. The same goes for the ARM feature; those who aren’t good at micromanaging their units can choose to research only passive skills while micromanaging gurus can choose the active abilities offered.
While the game’s pace is fast and perfect for quick multiplayer matches I discovered that the single-player campaign moved a bit too fast. The story was interesting – although the voice-acting wasn’t great – but seemed to overlap at times due to the speed of the gameplay. At times I was a little overwhelmed because I was flooded with little snippets here and there of story while being given objectives and having to choose between multiple paths.
The graphics are serviceable but forgettable. Building construction is interesting to watch for both the Humans and Zali and the different types of maps offer interesting looks and obstacles. A good example of obstacles would be the 2v2 multiplayer map Ignius, where some of the Resource Generators are located over volcanic terrain that causes damage to your units.
The game’s music fits the overall sense of urgency and speed of the game but the selection is a bit limiting and becomes repetitive. Voice acting is fine but no particular performance stands out.
A couple of gripes that I have, though, deal with the game’s controls. When I wanted to queue up multiple units, and I had two or more of the same building, double-clicking on one building didn’t automatically select all of the same buildings although it would for units on the field. Instead I had to click on each Barracks in order to queue up multiple Mercs.
Shortcuts are another issue I had. There were no shortcuts, that I could find, that would instantly take me back to my homebase in order to build more units while fighting my opponent. Instead I had to bind a Barracks or Outpost to a designated number key – which then limited me in the amount of groups I could make for my units – in order to instantly go back to my base and create more units or to construct additional buildings.
Despite these issues, Tryst is a game that can appeal to both inexperienced and veteran players. The fast pace of the title allows for speedy matches so that people looking for a quick game can join a match, or create their own, without worrying too much about time constraints. With a few tweaks here and there this will be a solid addition to the strategy genre.
Tested on PC
Review copy supplied