If there is one genre PC does particularly well it is the Real Time Strategy (RTS) games. Controlling little army men with ease with a mouse and a few basic keyboard commands, there are hundreds of RTS games out there to try out, many of which are pretty good from the well-known Command and Conquer series to the more space orientated StarCraft. Tryst is looking to be yet another great title to join those mentioned earlier, but rather than a tried and tested approach, BlueGiant Interactive have tried a few original ideas that really separates it from the others.
Having a fair amount of play time on the recent BETA access for the multiplayer mode, which is stated to be 99% complete, it's clear that BlueGiant has high hopes for Tryst. Set in the 30th Century on the planet of Ishtonia IV, we find humans have long settled on this strange and dangerous planet and with help of the indigenous species the Zali, have been mining for precious materials. This peace however was in the past, as at some point the friendly coalition fell apart, turning into war. That is all that we are given so far for the setting as we only had access to the multiplayer aspect of the game and whilst not a lot is given away yet, it is enough to get on and blow some stuff up.
The multiplayer mode will allow for up to eight players to battle it out for supremacy across each map. Though the maps available are your usual diamond shape with a symmetrical layout and players starting off in each distant corner, vying for buildings that mine for vital energy and ore, the worlds that you play in really try to offer plenty of environments to avoid and also to use to your advantage like fire pits and Wyrax Wasps.
Tryst is a game of two halves; you have the Human side and the Zali side. With the Humans it is all about classic RTS, with the usual approach of familiar weapons, infantry and buildings, most of which have appeared in some RTS or another at some point, we all know that tanks are powerful and aircraft are quick but vulnerable.
For both Human and Zali units Tryst has a unique addition called the Augmented Research Mechanism (A.R.M). Depending on what buildings or shrines you have built at your home base you are able to customize each of your units with special buffs that can really alter the way you approach battles. Engineers can unlock shields or faster repairs, Mercs can self-heal or even use more effective bullets, Operatives can deploy recon orbs and use a stealth cloak and the man-mountains that are Titans can upgrade their already deadly weapons with explosive rounds. The same goes for vehicles with dropships able to offer healing properties to troops picked up or drop mines from the quick moving Hound.
Other than A.R.M, the only real similarities between the two races are that they are both reliant on collecting energy and ore resources to keep on building and also that they all have health and energy bars relating to each unit. Health of course is your lifeblood, take too many hits and its death, energy is related to your units weaponry, with it depleting with every shot fired; reaching zero will result in a worthless warrior, so ordering them to the nearest ally or captured energy generator will quickly energise them ready for some more action.
The Zali side has an altogether very different approach and is very refreshing in the way their infrastructure is laid out, relying more heavily on the prayers of idols to boost weapons and increase units available rather than the old fashioned Human way. By building shrines and then upgrading them to temples and monuments you are able to unlock more buildings, weapons, units and A.R.M buffs for each of them via the worship of Silence, Strife and Preservation. Their alien appearances are a lot more imposing on the battlefield, with tentacles and eye stalks looking more ferocious than even a Titan Human with a huge plasma launcher. Even the Zali's approach to death is different with downed units rather than just getting obliterated and starting again the Zali have Harvesters, insect looking machines that will scour the battlefield searching for downed allies, collecting their remaining energy which will then allow for instant resurrection.
Gameplay is tight and rewarding, especially with the more unique Zali but this is let down a little in the graphics department. With only a relatively restricted view of the battlefield, even with its zoom functions, the action always seems a little too close to the screen and even though there is some decent detail given to the units and characters you control, they just do not look as good as most of the more recent releases, even with the game graphical settings on full.
Finally, a unique and telling addition to the gameplay is the seamless replacement of quitting or disconnected players, with the game instantly stepping in with an AI controlled team to keep the game flowing, so even if you start with 4 human players, if three drop out your game will still continue, though I am unsure if you have a genuine disconnection if you are able to re-join the game.
At the moment, without any form of single player and only a fraction of the tutorials working it is very much a trial and error approach. It's not so bad when playing as the Human side as its almost business as usual when it comes to RTS games, but with the Zali, a thorough tutorial or story mode will be a essential early in the game.
With the very different approach to RTS games, Tryst is certainly one to look out for on its final release. You can expect a full review including the single player mode from us shortly.
Words by Ash Buchanan.