Tryst walks and talks like a knock-off, but the PC RTS still delivers fast-paced fun
Real-time strategy game Tryst by India-based developer BlueGiant Interactive isn't a very original game. Its aesthetic owes much to StarCraft 2, from the UI to the structures and units. The focus on forcing players to abandon their bases so they can engage the outside world early in the match feels like an homage to League of Legends or DOTA. Tryst meets these two concepts right in the middle, providing a fast-paced isometric-view RTS that isn’t about resource collecting as much as army construction and combat. Controls are standard for the genre, as are unit types: infantry, vehicle, and air. Matches are short and brutal, be they 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4 games. Vinnie Reddy, developer on Tryst, told the Penny Arcade Report that’s by design. “We designed units to ensure they had a lot of power, and kept the health a bit lower, and increased the movement speed so they could get around much faster,” he said, also noting that build times are similarly kept low to reduce wait. “We wanted it to be a fast-paced action game – always in combat, always in the moment. It’s a quick game, that actually you play around 20, 25 minutes if it’s a 2v2 game. Even the maximum, with supporting up to eight players in a 4v4 game, we would like to have finished by 35-40 minutes,” Reddy said. “We want it to be a quick fight, like LoL.”Quick is an understatement. I played against an AI opponent in a one-on-one match, and I had just barely finished building the first of my advanced structures when my base came under attack. A fleet of swift-moving vehicles and mercs poured past my defenses before I could raise a gun against them. Tryst asks a lot of players; the strategy and resource management of StarCraft, and the quick-witted aggressiveness of games in the MOBA genre. There isn't much time to breathe. It’s challenging to keep a cool head, and you have to maintain a balance of building units and keeping pressure on your opponent. Advanced units require an advanced base plus their own support structure, all of which carry a hefty cost, not only of resources, but time. You have to think ahead: “I want behemoths in this match, so I need to build three engineers, a vehicle garage, advance my base to level 2, construct the appropriate advanced support structure, advance my base again, and then I can have my walking tanks of doom. But now, what power-ups will I give them?” This all has to happen on top of attacking the other player and protecting yourself with defenses. The team wants to focus on choice, with more abilities opening up as you advance your base. “Normally in DOTA and LoL, each character has four unique abilities. What we tried to do with our game is that each unit type has three unique abilities,” Reddy told me. “Someone could go with all the passive abilities, and the active abilities – if they use them smartly – can do a lot more damage.”
Rock beats scissor, scissor beats paper, plasma shield is overpowered
Tryst doesn’t feel quite balanced yet, although it’s hard to tell for sure after only a few matches. You could, for example, choose to add a passive bonus of +2 weapon damage to an infantry unit, or you could give them an active ability that grants a +5 bonus to armor or another that doubles rate of fire. The small increase to damage is nice, but it’s a miniscule advantage compared to nigh invulnerability. There are only two races in Tryst, as opposed to the standard RTS trinity. Humans play the same as they have in every other RTS game, building supply depots, barracks, and generating individual units. The machine race, called the Zali, play a bit differently. As a deeply religious race, Zali build temples and shrines as opposed to barracks and bunkers. These structures allow basic units to morph into more advanced ones, while other units turn scrap into additional base units. The look and feel of this race is a cool blend of sci-fi and mysticism, and though I never quite got the hang of playing them due to how different they handle, they're fun to mess around with. “What we are trying to do is what we call a 'perfect imbalance,'” Reddy said. “If you look at StarCraft, it doesn't have that many choices, and it has a very high barrier to enter. You need to be really good to get in.” As someone who didn't play more than one match of StarCraft 2 online due to the expert level of my competition, I'm inclined to agree. Tryst is shooting for something a little more welcoming than current games of this type. “We're trying to build a community here,” Reddy told me. “We're trying to ensure that the learning curve is a bit easier, while still deep, and you can play different levels with a certain skill set.” It's hard to judge this sort of game after only a few quick matches against bots, with guidance from the developer, but they're off to a good start.