A game heralded as ‘the next Starcraft‘ has a lot of hype to live up to. It’s a game that wants to be a fresh, new twist on a familiar genre. BlueGiant’s newest RTS, Tryst, tries faithfully to live up to the hype, but falls short in almost every respect.
Tryst is a Sci-Fi RTS game that borrows heavily from others in the genre, Starcraft in particular. There are two races, Humans (nearly identical to Terrans from Starcraft) and Zalirace oi-mechanical race that are something like Protoss and Zerg’s unnatural offspring. Both races have depleted their homeworld’s resources, and have found themselves at odds while trying to mine an alien planet known as Ishtonia. After a brief introductory attack by the Zali, protagonist Ivan Petrovich finds himself in charge of leading the counterattack against the aliens and uniting humanity, as well as avenging his father… or something like that. The story quickly takes a back seat as you’ll be much too worried about resources and upgrades to bother with the poorly-acted cutscenes.
From a gameplay perspective, there is very little here that we haven’t seen before. You’ll build up your base, you’ll create units and you’ll gather resources. Tryst maintains a fast pace throughout a match, which is one of its greatest strengths. While the maps are large, they still manage to throw you into conflict very quickly. If you’re not able to keep up, you may find yourself overrun within minutes by an AI that moves with a sense of urgency. However, the game maintains a balance that allows you to make a comeback, even from an early setback. Resource collection is simplified, with resource points generating a set amount of resources over time. This is both a strength and a weakness of the game. While the simple structure allows for easy resource generation, the lack of any way to upgrade your gathering forces you to capture more points if you want to increase your accumulation rate.
A somewhat unique twist that Tryst brings to the RTS genre is the ARM system. Standing for Augmentation Research Mechanism, ARM lets you upgrade and customize your units on the fly, while on the battlefield. This adds to the somewhat limited tech tree by allowing the player to customize their strategy very quickly, right in the middle of a firefight. ARM allows the player to micro-manage their troops, but with the fast pace, there’s not always time to dive into the complexity that it offers. Tryst is a game full of concepts we’ve seen before, just combined in a slightly different and incongruous way. The game’s speed requires constant movement, yet micromanagement that might be better suited to a slower pace.
Graphically, Tryst leaves much to be desired. While definitely serviceable, there’s very little in the game that will have you saying, “wow.” It borrows very heavily from StarCraft, but without the same level of quality. From the interface, to the units, to the environment, the similarity is unmistakable. By offering itself to such obvious comparison, Tryst sets itself up for a failure that could have been avoided by being its own game, instead of trying so hard to be something else.
Audio, as well, is nothing special. While there are the obligatory sci-fi explosions and gunfights, they do little to set themselves apart from anything else in the genre. The music, too, is serviceable without being memorable. The voice acting is comically bad, so much so that one wonders if it’s intentional or not for it to be so terrible. Every single character has a cheesy accent, and there’s not even really any consistency in nationality. It comes across that the budget was stretched a bit too thin, and the dev team just took whomever they could get to do the voice acting.
Tryst doesn’t come without its technical glitches, either. While generally not game-breaking, there are several moments where you’ll be in the middle of a firefight, only to be drawn out of it by an error message. It’s aggravating and shows a lack of polish on the final product that will hopefully be fixed in an update. Saving your game, as well, can be a bit of an adventure, as you don’t know exactly where you’ll be when you reload the game. Sometimes you’ll find yourself a minute or two behind where you saved, and others you’ll be in the middle of a firefight that wasn’t there before. It’s kind of an odd glitch to run into, and leads to interesting results. Long load times and random crashes round out the list of technical issues; the game really just has an overall lack of technical polish that holds it back.
The single-player campaign is little more than an extended tutorial, teaching you the ropes of controlling units and various upgrade paths. The story is completely forgettable, and any RTS gamer worth his space marines will be able to blast through it in under 5 hours. The campaign does do a good job of introducing the player to the game, and is worth it to help you become familiar with the controls and build trees, but after that, you’ll probably want to move on.
As with any game in the RTS genre, multiplayer is a big focus in Tryst, and again, the game delivers while neither impressing or disappointing. Up to 8 players can go head-to-head online on maps varying in size and layout. It’s obvious that BlueGiant’s main goal here is to create a competitive game that could make the e-sports circuit, and while the matches have a decent balance and quick pace, there’s not the depth there that many other games in the category (Starcraft, Company of Heroes) offer. In fact, while playing Tryst, I often found myself wishing I was playing Starcraft instead. The small server population is a testament to the fact that Tryst has not caught on in quite the same way that BlueGiant might have expected; however, since we’re still early in the game’s life, there is still plenty of time for the fanbase to grow.
As every after-school special will tell you, being yourself is important; and it’s a lesson that Tryst missed out on. It tries too hard to be Starcraft, and in the process it loses any chance at being its own game. While there are some elements that are unique, overall you’ll come away from the experience with the feeling it’s just a cheap copy of better games, and not worth your $24.99.
Here’s the Rundown:
+ Fast-paced gameplay
+ Different mixture of RTS styles
+ ARM system is interesting, allowing for rapid changes in tactics
– Tries too hard to be Starcraft, doesn’t stand on its own
– Freezes and save problems ramp up the tension in the wrong ways
– Short campaign with laughable story and awful voice acting
– Few multiplayer options and low server populations
– Fails to impress visually
1 (RIP) to 4 are varying degrees of a bad game. A 1 (RIP) being a game you would actually pay money to not play, and a 4 is something that just fails to reach even the not-so-lofty level of “mediocre.”
Tryst was developed and published by BlueGiant. It was released on September 14, 2012 at an MSRP of $24.99. A copy was provided by the publisher to RipTen for the purposes of review.