Tryst: review

The Real Time Strategy market has never been a big one, mainly consisting of Blizzard’s output and Command & Conquer. Though there have been attempts at entering the market with games using the Lord of the Rings and Warhammer licences, nothing has really stood out. India-based Blue Giant Interactive are hoping to change all that with Tryst, their sci-fi RTS set in the midst of an alien invasion after decades of civil unrest on the planet of Ishtonia IV.

If that sounds familiar, there’s no denying that Tryst takes some pretty heavy inspiration from the giant of the genre, StarCraft. It doesn’t end there: several of the UI elements such as the loading screens and the in-game cursor will seem eerily familiar to fans of Blizzard’s behemoth eSport RTS. While this may initially leave a bad taste in many mouths, there are some key differences.

Tryst is about as standard an RTS as you could expect, centring around unit control, construction, and resource management. The goal is generally to amass enough of an army to complete whatever mission you’re on, usually involving the complete destruction of the enemy. There isn’t a whole lot of new ideas going on here, and even the attempts don’t feel too fresh.

A.R.M. is an interface that allows you to equip units with various stat bonuses at any time during the game. These are similar to what you would find upon levelling up in an RPG: damage bonuses, health regeneration, and critical hit modifiers are all unlocked via this device. These bonuses also cost the same resources required for units and buildings, so you’ll have to make the choice between upgrades or numbers.

The problem with A.R.M. is that it’s nothing new; BlueGiant have simply removed cycling through buildings and put the upgrades in one location accessible at the click of a button. They’ve taken an old concept and made it more convenient, but it’s not a particularly exciting innovation.

In multiplayer maps there are environmental hazards that are often in the way of resources. This is a great idea, but it doesn’t really have a whole lot of impact on the match. It’s pretty easy to just take the resources and run back to heal the damage done.

Tryst tells the story of Oliver Petrovich, the new President after his father’s death. When the Zali begin to attack the colony, Oliver must join forces with Aeryn, daughter of the old Rebel leader. Uh oh! This plot had potential, though it was never elaborated upon.

The plot works in a weird way. The whole thing has the quality of a so-bad-it’s-good movie, from the script to the terribly hammy acting and the awful fake accents. One key example of this is the early line; “Military training for the win!” That is a direct quote. These B-movie qualities add up to a campaign that is strangely endearing almost in spite of itself.

The Zali never progress past faceless antagonists

Unfortunately the game isn’t saved by this: it’s far too often frustrating. There are no difficulty options which is infuriating for those who are bad at the RTS genre. Especially so when you add in the rather steep learning curve; even the second mission gets unreasonably tough since some of Tryst’s core concepts aren’t put across very well, if at all.

In one of the early missions, the player is tasked with destroying an enemy base. This should be simple: build a force, and go shoot at it an awful lot. The problem is that the units suddenly begin to cease firing in what is presumably some state related to the red blobs that appeared above their heads. The game did nothing to communicate what was going on here and it was not covered in the help section of the menu, causing a state of bewilderment. There simply isn’t any feedback as to what the player is doing wrong, something that crops up often.

The mission structure itself is good. There are key goals and a handful of optional tasks. What’s great about these is that they actually affect the mission at hand. There are also some choices that the player has to make such as whether to save a squad of medics or Mad Rats, crucially changing the way you play.

A lot of the missions require that certain units survive, effectively turning them all into escort missions. Yay. It doesn’t help that these units are far too fragile, often dying within a second or two of combat. These units are supposed to be the main characters of the game yet it’s often a far easier tactic to simply leave them at the base, wasting the useful abilities at their disposal.

Not all these abilities are useful though; sometimes they don’t work as well as they should. The Operative unit can be upgraded to adopt stealth camouflage, turning her invisible while out of combat. This would be helpful for scouting if she didn’t shoot the nearest pack of patrolling enemies, removing her camouflage and dying instantly. You can set her to hold fire, but why is this command not activated along with the ability? When you needlessly have to reload your save over and over again because of this oversight, it gets frustrating. The ridiculously long load times make it doubly so.

Tryst had some potential, but it is severely let down by a few choices made by BlueGiant Interactive. In defence of the game, it’s technically sound for such a small developer. We encountered no bugs at all and very few crashes, though there were horribly long load times and the game resets the custom hotkeys when you fail the mission. Perhaps that is the biggest issue with Tryst; for every positive thing that can be said, there are a few frustrating negatives. These frustrations culminate in a game that is a real chore to get through.

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Written by Adam S

Hailing from Parts Unknown, Adam grew up with a passion for three things: Videogames, anime, and writing. Unfortunately his attempts to combine the three have yet to form Captain Planet, but they have produced some good byproducts.

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