Tryst tells of a war between humanity and a sentient alien race – the Zali – on a far off system over the precious resources found on the Ishtonia IV. It’s essentially the same templated plot about an invading alien species that wants to wipe humanity out that you’ve seen dozens of time already. The pot is never expanded upon, especially with single-player campaign only lasting five swift missions.
Like most real-time strategy games, Tryst starts off straightforward enough: build your base, create a mass of units, and conquer all enemy forces on the map. Some missions forgo base building and give you a set amount of units to traverse the map with, but personally I enjoy building up my base and forces. Secondary objectives break the linear mold by allowing you to decide between two different objectives. Should you save the Operatives or the Medics? Would you rather turn the power generator back on or increase your on-foot units? The overall importance of these decisions are downplayed, and doesn’t leave a lasting effect on each mission, although BlueGiant Interactive is moving in the right direction with these decisions – something I would like to see expanded upon for future games.
With only five single-player missions, the campaign feels more like a tutorial to get players ready for multiplayer or skirmish games – without the proper training. The issue being, the game doesn’t do a great job at teaching you the game’s mechanics. The optional tutorial videos help, but something in-game would preferable, especially for newcomers to the genre. Also, hitting ESC doesn’t pause the game nor does it bring up the main menu – it does absolutely nothing! What a strange design choice.
If you have played an RTS title before, you will be able to easily jump into Tryst without any problems. Engineers act as your basic building unit; building and repairing any of your base structures. Units and structures require a set amount of ore and electricity, which are harvested automatically. Additional resources can be gathered by capturing various locations spread across the map. The ARM – Augmentation Research Mechanism – allows tech tree upgrades for each different unit class. You won’t be able to customize individual units, but Mercs – the standard soldiers – can gain an increase in firepower and higher critical hit % for example.
Skirmish and Multiplayer modes allows you to play as either Humans or the Zali. At any given moment, there are around only three to five different multiplayer matches going on. The multiplayer features the same fast-paced gameplay from the single-player and with up to eight players in a match, matches can become quite chaotic.
Tryst utilizes the Uniengine, which has been proving to be quite a powerful engine for indie developers. A cel-shading option can be turned on and off in the graphics menu – producing a water color filter on everything from the colorful terrain to the units themselves. While zoomed out, you may find it difficult to differentiate between your units.
Pathfinding seems to be the biggest issue in the game, with units unable to navigate around other units, walls or uneven terrain. Units that have fallen under attack, might engage the attackers to defend themselves, but units standing right next to them will continue to stand there.
With such a short and lacking single-player campaign, Tryst was made to be a multiplayer centric title – if you can find opponents.Tryst is best played with other players, but if you are unable to find anyone, Skirmish mode allows you to play exclusively against AI controlled players. Tryst can still provide hours of entertainment, even with its faults and bugs. It may not be a classic, but the fast-paced gameplay and optional objectives are commendable.
Note: The Tryst review was written based on the PC version of the game provided by the publisher.