5.1 Overall Score

It's an RTS | Costs $25

Too Short Singleplayer | Too Little Multiplayer | Has All Been Done (Better) Elsewhere

Written by on October 22, 2012 in [, , , , ]

Tryst: noun 1) an appointment to meet at a certain time and place, especially one made somewhat secretly. See also: Tryst, a real-time strategy game by BlueGiant Interactive, characterized by the need to make an appointment to meet at a certain time in order to find anyone playing multiplayer, especially one made somewhat secretly to avoid ridicule from those playing Starcraft or XCOM.

Though the above definition won’t be found in any urbane dictionary, it’s certainly true that BlueGiant’s entry into the RTS genre has come in quite a bit below the bar set by its closest competitors. Putting forth a generic science fiction story of humanity versus a hostile alien race known as the Zali, the single player campaign of the game lasts only a brief five missions. How long this takes players to get through will depend on how lucky you are in overcoming the unanticipated difficulty spikes, as you work your way through cel-shaded environments with little direction.

The initial moments of the game are perfectly emblematic of the overall experience: once play starts you’ll likely enjoy the artistic direction that the developers took, as it is both familiar and easy on the PC specs. But when it comes to the business of ordering units around, you’ll find that things begin to fall apart as the simple process of clicking and attacking is sluggish; there is a painfully noticeable delay between the time you press “A” to the time you are actually allowed to click on a target. (Let’s not even go into why you have to hold Shift AND the Middle Mouse button to rotate the camera.) The lines of uninspired dialogue voiced in heavy Russian accents won’t engender much more of an appreciation for the story either.

There are times when a little light shines through in the first mission of the campaign, specifically when you are given mutually exclusive objectives which you must choose between. Sadly, whatever unit lives or dies ultimately has no outcome or bearing on the game beyond that single map though. This mechanic of decision making is something rarely seen in an RTS implemented the way it is here, which makes it all the more unfortunate that playing beyond those moments buries you back in the same interface and erratic difficulty problems.

Tryst certainly makes an effort to bring something new to the table – but some of the “innovations” are simply just not well thought-out. For example, you would be very hard pressed to think of another strategy game where soldier units are capable of running out of ammunition, rendering them completely defenseless in combat. Logically there’s a great reason for that, because that sort of micromanagement in an RTS can just kill the experience, yet Tryst does this very thing.

One area where Tryst comes closest to making a meaningful contribution to the genre is the way in which unit upgrades are implemented. When upgrading unit classes, you don’t just try to work your way up the tech tree as fast as possible, you make tactical decisions. Unit types can be equipped with one upgrade from multiple tiers, where each tier has multiple options. Some options enhance health or damage, while some enhance how the units coordinate with other pieces of your army.

Base building – another classic staple of the RTS genre – also manages to go awry. Rather than having little workers collect various resources, there are pre-constructed refineries for ore (the main currency) littered throughout the map. These must be captured and can be upgraded slightly to increase their level of production. While this does mean fewer worries, it also means less involvement to a degree. By narrowing the number of buildings you have to manage to around five support structures and three unit producing structures, you’ll have much more time to focus on your army out in the field. That might be a good thing, if not for the aforementioned problem of how your elite fighting force can’t even be bothered to pick up and throw rocks at the enemy once they’ve run out of bullets.

Making choices in what unit types to build and what upgrades to choose certainly gives the game a touch of depth, where other strategy games take the “gotta research ‘em all” approach. But when it comes to multiplayer combat against crafty human opponents, in practice the deeper your strategy the harder it is to adjust to changes. That’s assuming you can actually find someone to play against though.

As most new or indie titles suffer from a small fan base which hinders enjoyment of the online aspects of the game, so goes Tryst. It doesn’t help that there are only two factions to choose from or six maps to play on, though considering that there are only about two people playing online at any given time that’s comparatively an abundance of options. The fact that while you are in a match a little message pops up to notify you whenever other players log onto the server seems almost as if the creators of the game anticipated having a lower user-ship.

If Tryst were a game that had been created thirteen years ago, it certainly would have been lauded for all of its achievements. The minor “cover” mechanic would have been new, the graphics would have been outstanding, the idea of humanity fighting for survival against space aliens would have been relatively novel and everyone would have loved the low price point of $25.

But it wasn’t made thirteen years ago, it was made today, in a world where RTS cover was done better by Company of Heroes, space marines versus aliens was done better by Starcraft and the low price point was done better by software pirates (not condoning, just being realistic). In this market the only thing that Tryst really has going for it is the fact that it is so strongly reminiscent of all those other RTS titles which it tries to emulate but clearly cannot equal.

A copy of Tryst was provided to The Married Gamers for review.


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Author: Patrick Cassin View all posts by
Patrick has been playing games since the days of Pong. To support his video game habit he got his BA in English. Then he cut down some trees, put out some fires, rescued some dolphins, got paid to go to prison, and arrested someone's horse. Now he writes the things he imagines that you LOL at.

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