If you happen to be seeking a demonically hard — yet brutally fair — session of fast-paced object matching, then I definitely have something that just might interest you this time around. In Julius Bangert’s Tri (out now, $0.99) your goal is to quickly find a matching set of three grid segments, yet these are not exactly matched in ways that you have been traditionally conditioned to recognize. In the world of Tri a proper set is one where every object involved either has completely matching elements, or — as is far more often the case — utterly devoid of any matching elements whatsoever.

screen480x480Each grid segment in this world has four distinct aspects: physical object count (the number of shapes grouped together), shape type (triangle, square, circle, etc), color (self explanatory), and color fill method (including solid, outline only, and partially filled). Each of the many grid segments presented will contain anywhere from one-to-three shapes inside them, all of which will have the same basic shape type — color type — and fill rule being applied across the board. Your goal is to quickly locate the three grid sections where each of the four rules are either the same — or utterly different — as fast as you can, and your are even allowed to have one rule be the same while another is all different.

Example: You can match three singular solid blue squares; this is allowed because they all have the same shape type, the same color type, the same object count, and the same fill method. However: You could also match a grid with one orange outlined triangle, a grid with two blue solid filled squares, and a grid with three partially filled green circles; which is legal because none of the four rules used is the same in any of the chosen grids. Furthermore: You could match grids with three solid blue squares, three solid orange triangles, and three solid green circles; which is allowed because while count and fill-type are matching everywhere, shape and color are absolutely different everywhere as well.

If the above matching mechanics so far sound utterly maddening, then I can assure you that these rules — especially when you’re first starting — certainly aren’t easy at all. However — with time and practice — finding the byzantine triplets that Tri demands of you will slowly begin to become second nature, after which you’ll find yourself rapidly blowing through grid board after grid board. Which — as I might have previously mentioned — is going to be of the utmost importance, as this maniacal game of mismatching is furthermore constantly putting you under the pressure of a cruel timer.

screen480x480Your score will — based on how fast you complete segments — go up, with faster finishes being awarded more points than those completed with only mere seconds remaining on the clock. However — despite what you might now be thinking — this isn’t really a game about achieving massive points, as it’s actually these very same points that determine when you will finally meet with utter defeat. Failing to do anything within the time provided — or, worse yet, trying to match the wrong grid segments — will deduct various points totals from your score, with the game ending when you score dips below zero. Your goal then is to instead see just how many levels you can plow through within a single run, with the player having to repeat any stage they failed — completely randomized anew every single time — until they either move forward successfully or flunk out entirely.

While everything described so far — all by itself — would certainly keep many of you pulling your hair out for months to come, Tri also contains a local multiplayer mode for you to utterly decimate your friends at. How it works is that you will be presented with a standard grid board — minus the rapidly deteriorating doomsday clock — during which any of the players involved may try to make a match, after which stating who made the guess. While the guesses made will still raise and lower each person’s score, here the game ends when someone reaches a specific goal milestone rather than finishing because someone’s score dropped below zero (furthermore, no one’s score can go below zero in multiplayer).

The end results of a multiplayer session can even be posted to Facebook afterwards, which is made more interesting by the fact that Tri will ask for both the names — and pictures — of the 2-to-4 players involved before each new session begins. While that sounds great at first, I do need to point out that — as things currently stand — this involves a massive amount of trust between each player due to the honor system inherently present. I would heavily implore – to prevent potential shenanigans – that a future update lets each player input a small password of some sort, so that people can’t just deliberately assign a bad answer to someone else whom currently happens to be holding the lead.

Although Tri claims to also have an ‘arcade mode’ — in addition to the already discussed single and multiplayer modes — I am not yet able to review this, as the feature is currently listed as coming soon. As we know for a fact that an upcoming patch will soon be on the way, I re-implore the creator to use this to include protection against shenanigans — a common occurrence amongst friends — to the already existent local-multiplayer mode. Either way — even without the arcade mode up and running, and the multiplayer mode resolving around an honor system — Tri is still a soul crushingly addictive game of fast paced object identification, complete with a twist unlike any you’ve ever seen before.

iFanzine Verdict: Julius Bangert’s Tri is a soul crushingly addictive game of fast paced object identification, complete with a unique twist that you have probably never before laid eyes upon. Your goal is to find three grid segments where everything either matches simultaneously; or where not a single grid has anything in common; or where things are perfectly matched one way, while still completely different on other criterion. Furthermore — for those eager to see which of their friends is the king of fast paced object identification — there even exists a local multiplayer game mode, although this does require people to first establish a strict honor system due to how it functions.