TRI: Of Friendship and Madness

Game review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
TRI: Of Friendship and Madness Game Poster Image
Cunning puzzler delivers beauty, challenge, and peace.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to seek creative solutions, use trial and error, and simply keep trying to solve puzzles. Using the TRI to navigate the three-dimensional space may inspire a basic understanding of geometry as well as some physics. Kids may also need to figure out ways to map their surroundings or keep track of where they've been to explore each of the temples in full. Tri: Of Friendship and Madness takes a different angle on puzzle solving, which should capture the imagination of gamers of all ages.

Positive Messages

There's a mystical background story about two fox gods that have a falling out, but it's somewhat vague and slow to unfold. Although the game's language and slow pace may make it difficult for kids to follow, it touches on themes of friendship.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The mentor character (who leads the tutorial and provides occasional advice) is generally positive and supportive but has little interaction with the player.

Ease of Play

Tutorials explain the basics of navigation, which is straightforward, though it requires a lot of hand-eye coordination. Players need to walk, jump, crouch, and climb. Occasionally, controls are glitchy, and the 3-D environment can be difficult to navigate or view. For example, you may climb onto a platform only to have it seem as if you're floating above it. 

Violence & Scariness
Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that TRI: Of Friendship and Madness is a downloadable first-person puzzle game with little objectionable content. But the puzzles are challenging, and younger kids may struggle with the combination of mouse and keyboard controls. These can be altered in the game settings, but there still will be difficulties navigating the 3-D environment: It requires a lot of hand-eye coordination and patience. But there are no time limits and little pressure to complete a level, so those with patience can work through at their own pace.

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What's it about?

TRI: OF FRIENDSHIP AND MADNESS is a unique first-person puzzler that invites you into a mystical world. Once there, you'll learn about the Odd Gods, two fox deities who've had a falling out. A mystical mentor teaches you how to get around by jumping, climbing, crouching, and crawling and then points the way into a series of beautiful, tranquil, 3-D temple environments. They feel inspired by M.C. Escher, since it always feels like you should be walking on the ceiling -- and perhaps you should be! On each level, you'll need to find three red fox statues and bring them to an altar. Once you place each fox on its pillar, a portal will open, completing the level and displaying your level statistics. Along the way, you can seek out idols/golden fox statues (roughly 148 in all), which unlock bonus content such as level commentaries and some achievements. As you progress through the 16 levels, your mentor will provide guidance, the occasional tip, and the rest of the story of the Odd Gods.

Is it any good?

TRI: Of Friendship and Madness is an indie game. There's no big-budgeted producer behind this title, and, to some extent, it shows. Nothing's quite as polished as you'd find in a mass-market game, and the controls for building and climbing are occasionally frustrating. But put all that aside and you'll find a compelling experience set in a tranquil world with an oriental aesthetic. The music is peaceful, and the graphics are dreamlike. A steady stream of leaves or petals drifts by, as if a soft breeze is always blowing through the temples. This all contributes to the sense of freedom you experience as you're allowed to explore each temple with no time limits or threat of attack.

The levels aren't easy, and the whole game requires patience and the willingness to stick it out. Sometimes that even means walking away and taking a break so you can look at things with fresh eyes. But a little perseverance will pay off. It's hard to say just how long the game takes to complete, as it's simply a matter of how quickly you can navigate a level and whether or not you feel compelled to find each and every gold statue. That said, you can expect a minimum of 14 to 16 hours of exploration unless you're a labyrinth-solving wunderkind. TRI is refreshing, clever, and definitely worth tackling if puzzles are your thing.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about friendship, arguments, and resolving difficulties such as those found in TRI. What happens when you have a fight with a friend? How can you make it better?

  • Discuss the TRI environment. If you were to make a game, what would the environment look like? Who would the characters be? Would there be a story or action without a plot?

  • Talk about solving difficult problems. What do you do if you're stuck? Frustrated? 

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For kids who love puzzles

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