Sometimes the plot feels like an afterthought in indie titles, tacked on so as to provide a barely believable motive for all the weird and wonderful things you’ll be asked to do as the game unfolds. Rarely do you come across a narrative that explores sensitive topics with real depth, creativity and respect for the audience’s time.
In Trifox, you (the Trifox mentioned above) are thrust into this adventure when your TV remote is stolen by nameless intruders. By the time the game concludes – and I can only apologise for this massive spoiler – you’ve recovered it. The art of storytelling is alive and well.
Beyond the story, what we’ve got here is a fairly classic action/adventure/platformer hybrid, but at times it’s actually a really good one. The ‘Tri’ in ‘Trifox’ subtly alludes to the fact that you’re able to specialise in three different skill trees: warrior, mage or engineer, each of which have a pretty wide variety of abilities to choose from. All three have their perks but I always seemed to default back to engineer - building turrets, dropping mines and strafing everything with a gatling gun was just too much fun.
On the receiving end of this arsenal is an eclectic mix of baddies, all apparently linked to the original remote-thieves, and hell-bent on your destruction. Over three levels each made up of four stages, you’ll come up against giant burrowing worm beasts, ice-throwing crab things, walking robots that look like Star Wars’ AT-STs, and plenty more. There’s quite a bit of variety in their attack patterns too, so combat can be a meaty challenge at times, especially towards the end of stages/levels where you face bosses in arenas decked out with saws, exploding barrels and the like.
The platforming elements of the game aren’t so good, sadly. While each class has an ability to help you traverse bigger gaps (the engineer has a personal helicopter in its backpack), the controls lack a bit of finesse and the intricate sections can be frustrating - not quite rage-quit-worthy, but enough to kill the fun. Thankfully the emphasis is on fighting more than farting around on narrow ledges, so not a terminal problem for Trifox.
Looks-wise it won’t win any awards, but I really liked the Crash Bandicoot-esque chunky and colourful aesthetic. It feels very solid and the environments are nicely varied, albeit prone to a some slow-down when the on-screen action gets busy. Music and sound effects do the trick as well, and while there’s no dialogue (written or otherwise), they’ve managed to squeeze a bit of comedy out of the warbly nonsense peppered through the end-of-level cutscenes. The news-reading badger in a suit who earnestly shuffles his papers at the end of each announcement was a personal fav.
Trifox is a nice spin on a classic concept - unsophisticated platforming offset by punchy combat, and with enough abilities across the three classes and hidden collectibles throughout the levels to provide a fair bit of replay value beyond the 3-4 hour campaign. I didn’t know a TV remote snatching could motivate me to wreak quite so much havoc, but I’m pleased to have been proven wrong.