As I finished the first level in Trifox, I couldn't help but smile at the obvious inspiration the game takes cues from. The first few levels are located on a beach, you take control of a quirky mammal who is very expressive without words, and above all, there's a warp room as a HUB world. The layout, including the area where you obtain new skills and the various worlds, just yells Crash Bandicoot: Warped loudly in your ear. If it feels as if it's just a coincidence, then it's not. This was the direction that the developers were going for when it came to Trifox.
In the history blurb on the Glowfish Interactive press kit for Trifox, the developers were brainstorming several ideas stemming from their love of action platformers, twin-stick shooters, and Action RPGs. "What if Crash Bandicoot was a top-down twin-stick adventure game?" was their initial thought process. This blossomed into creating a game that took many elements from several favorite genres into one adventure.
The Crash Bandicoot claims weren't far off, but it's endearing to hear stories from developers on how they wish to create the new "Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich" by combining favorite genres. It reminded me of the interview I had with the Demon Throttle developers who spent their college years binging old-school NES titles as inspiration. Having set the tone of the game as a "top-down Crash Bandicoot twin-stick platformer," it's time to answer the meaning behind the "stolen TV remote."
That's because it's literally the plot for Trifox. A group of bandits ransacks our titular hero's home, causing disorder and destroying everything within his home. The biggest crime? Stealing the TV remote; Never steal a vindictive fox's telly remote. So begins the story of Trifox, although, of course, the plot expands in the grand scheme of things as players continue their adventure. The enemies are these weird wolf-like creatures who are as dumb and comical as any 90s platformer at the time.
In the introductory level, the player gets a taste of Trifox's three skill trees; Warrior, Mage, and Engineer. At first, this is determined by their movement as each class dashes, blink teleports, and flies on a helicopter pack respectively. I thought "flying with a helicopter pack" was cool and very Ratchet and Clank-ish so I went with the Engineer. Fortunately, if you have "buyer's remorse," you can switch your starting class for 1000 coins.
Trifox practically gives you money as you gain coins from defeating enemies and destroying crates. I mentioned Ratchet and Clank earlier but the progression isn't that far off especially if you're committed to being an Engineer. You can deploy turrets, repair drones, homing missiles, and traps to keep your enemies in check. Likewise, the Mage class deals with mid to long-range combat, one of which is a sniper-like magic attack that is useful for picking enemies from a safe distance. Lastly, the Warrior trait is for when you wish to get up close and personal while keeping your defenses at bay.
The cool thing about any of these classes is that you can mix and match between all three. Each skill is separated into different tiers and purchasing all from one tier unlocks the next. The further down the tier, the more dynamic the skill is at the cost of high mana. While mana auto-recovers, it's not uncommon to find yourself waiting for mana to recover as an entire army is breathing down your neck. Even the starting skills find their use and it may mean the difference between life and death.
The "twin-stick" element comes from using the right analog stick to aim while using any of the shoulder and trigger buttons to use your skills. It reminds me of similar titles like Torchlight but with an emphasis on platforming. There are puzzles that require memory and knowledge of one's surroundings. At times Trifox can feel a bit overbearing but the general rule of thumb is that if a horde of enemies spawns in your location, you're on the right path. This also goes on the verge of being slightly repetitive.
While the same enemy types spawn throughout the three different worlds, there's always a unique gimmick that ties everything together. My favorite world was the second one as the mine cart section was the best example of Trifox breaking the monotony. The later levels in that world consist of enduring gauntlets in a laboratory, making sure there was never a dull moment. Each world has three levels and a world boss. The bosses weren't that much of a hassle, as each boss acted like a puzzle that needed solving. Upon finding the solution to "attack the boss," it's generally "rinse and repeat" with added steps.
Those who are playing Trifox for its story may find themselves a tad bit confused. No one talks in an identifiable language, much like the language used in the Klonoa games. Unlike Klonoa, there are no subtitles so it's entirely up to the interpretation of what the context of each scene is like. Thankfully there's enough of that as each cutscene represents a news report with a video of whatever is being discussed. Apparently, these wolf creatures are out for total world domination and are militant. It'd be a shame if you pissed off a fox who was just chilling watching TV, however.
The graphics and aesthetics are absolutely stunning, easily running on Ultra settings at 240fps. The animations are smooth, and there are a lot of explosions and hazards flying about, but the game never stutters or lags. The only "negative" thing I can say about Trifox aside from its repetition is that it's far too short. Players can clear the game in a number of hours if they aren't going for 100% completion. There are gems to collect that are well hidden and give the game a "collectathon" feel, but those who know what they are doing can breeze through levels quickly.
Overall, Trifox is a fun afternoon platformer with a lot of potential not just in the speedrunning scene but for fans of platformers who want something new. I love it when games are innovative and aren't just "behind-the-back 3D platformers" and Trifox is certainly unique. The game comes out on October 14th, 2022 and players can wishlist the game here.