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Review: Trifox

Written by LHYonNPUK

One fox, one mission, triple the fun!

Courage, Wisdom, Power. Long ago, the three goddesses of… wait a minute, that’s the wrong game! From the imaginative minds of Glowish Interactive comes ‘Trifox’, a new retro twin-stick shooter/adventure where you’ll need to use your wisdom, power and a little bit of courage, to take back your belongings from an army of odd goblin-adjacent creatures.

Players of a certain generation will be hit with a wave of nostalgia as soon as they boot up the game in the form of a 3 Save File menu, which reminded me of collect-a-thon platformers of my youth, as well as a fun little FMV sequence showing our heroes' family history.  Subsequently, the TV explodes after being tampered with by the villains, causing you to be thrown into the fray. 


The first thing that stood out to me is how well-paced the movement of ‘The Fox’ is. Keep moving in a single direction long enough and you’ll break into a sprint, and both single and double jumping is pleasantly responsive, meaning any retro platformer connoisseurs will be right at home here. Trifox borrows from the Dual-Stick Shooter genre, meaning the right stick is dedicated to the direction your Fox is facing. Wildly spinning the stick will not make The Fox dizzy; he is much too focused on his quest to be confused by such antics. 

You interact with the world using the Y button; thankfully the developers have been kind enough to highlight objects or environmental features the player can interact with. This helps to guide the player in a non intrusive way, but it is also a guide to the limitations of what you can and can’t do within the game world. A lot of the miscellaneous objects can’t be picked up, which is a shame because we can’t throw explosive barrels at enemies!

The B button controls class movement. Brave warriors can dash, wise wizards can blink and short range teleport, and the intrepid engineers can use a little helicopter gear to fly around which costs energy. Each of the shoulder buttons uses the abilities of your chosen class, including attacks, spells or gadgets.

In the tutorial, you choose an ability to designate your archetype. The Warrior is a melee-focused build with an instant top speed perk, the Wizard is a crowd-controlling beast, and the Engineer is a mobile tower defence game. It’s worth noting that Classes aren’t locked, which is a pleasant surprise. When entering the hub, you’re shown that the coins you carry are the true power. You can purchase *any* skill as long as you have the dosh. It’s a really fun twist on class abilities and skills that I didn’t expect, but one that's appreciated all the same. It’s difficult to understate the flexibility offered by the developers here. The broad and diverse amount of customisation it offers really fuels replayability.

Unfortunately, there’s no option to re-equip yourself once you’re into the action. There were times where my loadout wasn’t really working for what was required, and so I was forced to restart the level in order to change it. It’s not a big commitment, but it did put the last 8-10 minutes of gameplay into the proverbial bin. I do think loadout kiosks would be appreciated in certain segments, like boss fights or horde battles. 

The game consists of 3 individual worlds to explore, each containing multiple levels. Each level is great, with a fair amount of exploration, platforming, combat, puzzles and collectibles. Luckily, if you happen to break an explosive barrel needed to open a door, or want to try a different approach in an encounter, just tap the minus button at any point to return The Fox to the last checkpoint, thus restoring both objects and enemies to the level. Keep in mind, your coins also get set-back, so be sure to break everything again for that sweet currency.
Speaking of the enemies, we’re treated to several variants early on. A goblin with 2 daggers that spins at you, goblins that hurl timed explosives, and a big buff goblin creature with boxing gloves, that serves as the first end level boss. Because it’s cartoony and silly, there’s not really a sense of dread when fighting, especially with the arsenals You’re given. The difficulty is largely approachable, and you rarely feel out-gunned or too weak as most of the enemies aren’t overly strong. The game does slowly increase the difficulty by ramping up the number of mobs, rather than their health bars.

It’s not too mentally intense either, with most of the individual levels clocking in at around 10-15 minutes per run. It's the perfect game to have a little stomp around in before bed. Some of the puzzles for the collectible diamonds can be difficult to solve the first time round, but they aren’t excessively tricky, and even if you miss one, it isn’t a massive time commitment to go back and look. It’s a good 10 - 12 hours for a full run of the game.

One downside to Trifox in my opinion, is the lack of a co-op mode. The game seems built for couch co-op, and it feels strange for it to be absent. The name initially suggested a multiplayer aspect, so there was a bit of confusion before I realised the name referred to The Fox’s three skill sets.

Trifox performs well in Docked and Handheld modes, with pretty speedy load times for both. Visually, the game is awash with bright and cartoony visuals, reflective of the games humour, so it isn’t taxing for the Switch to run. Some of the shading and character textures can look a little jagged, but it's so minor that it doesn’t detract from the gameplay. In fact, I think it gives off a sort of retro-modern 64-bit era kind of look. The art team clearly didn’t cut corners, the transitions are velvety smooth and there's a really satisfying partial dissolve when The Fox is behind trees or buildings. It pays such homage to classic collection adventure games in every way possible. This even bleeds through in its soundtrack, which would feel at home in classic adventure games of the 90s, like Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. 

The developers clearly have a lot of love for the PS One era, as showcased by the sounds enemies make, the cracking of barrels, the whirring of the Mechanic’s automated weapons and much more. One particular example is are the little clinks and thuds that pots and boxes make to signify damage. If this studio employed foleys for their sound design, they must've had a lot of fun! Some sounds can get a bit tedious, like the Mechanic’s minigun or the Wizard’s homing spells, but honestly it’s not too much of an issue. Each attack has their own signature audio trait, and you can swap them out when you rearm The Fox. Sound design really took priority for this game, which makes it all the more disappointing that the soundtrack as a whole isn’t as captivating. I think my favourite level soundtrack was the first level in the third world, a sprawling forest. It starts quietly, before adding in strings, trumpets and the like, transforming The Fox’s mission into a noble quest worthy of the court of Camelot. Unfortunately, as good as certain individual tracks are, the soundtrack never quite reaches memorable status, with some levels sounding so similar I initially thought it was all the same song. 

Glowfish Interactive have hit the nail on the head with Trifox. Between the tight controls, varied combat and dedication to the Action-Adventure genre, this is a sweet addition to the vast Nintendo Switch library. The goal of giving players a fun experience was met, and this fills me with great expectations for the developers future output. This is the kind of game that could launch a franchise, which is fantastic to see and definitely more than I expected. 

 

Where to Buy

 

Credits

Written by Luke Young

Edited by Mark McAllister, Paul L. Russell & Jen Griffiths

Graphic by Paul L. Russell