There’s an age-old technique in writing that states things are more satisfying when they come in threes. I can say without hesitation that after playing through FlyAway’s Triple Take, this is not entirely true.
In fact, after sinking nearly eight hours into the punishingly difficult precision platformer, it wasn’t the fact that I had to replay each level three times that was satisfying but finally completing the triad after dying dozens of times.
And yet, it’s this combination of frustration and accomplishment that keeps us returning to these nightmarish side-scrolling experiences.
We put in the agonizing effort to complete a level and enjoy a brief celebration before repeating the cycle ad nauseum. Except, with the indie game featured in this Triple Take Review, the celebration doesn’t come until after you’ve reached the level’s end three times.
As much as I question the entertainment value behind them, I do typically enjoy precision platformers. Celeste and Super Meat Boy are solid games that are just fun and visually appealing enough that I’ve sunk quite a bit of time into them.
When I first glimpsed Triple Take’s simplistic art style and comparatively rudimentary level design, I didn’t really expect the same experience. I was unfamiliar with FlyAway (Chester’s Revenge, Sunblaze) and felt the decision to go monochromatic would lend to a rather dull playthrough.
As it turns out, precision platformers don’t have to be strikingly beautiful, and the longer I spent with Triple Take, the more I was reminded of N, an old-school platformer from the days of Flash freeware titles, and Lode Runner, an even earlier incarnation of the genre.
FlyAway does a great job of emulating these earlier games while creating an experience of its own, complete with a surprisingly engaging story, fun characters, and, yes, that signature horrifyingly hard gameplay.
Released on PC, Triple Take isn’t just a cutesy name. It’s an indication of the challenges that lie ahead. Rather than rush you from one level to the next, FlyAway created evolving levels that get more and more difficult with each successful run.
You’ll have to complete each level three times before progressing to the next, and with each “take,” some new hazard awaits to impede your progress.
FlyAway could have stopped with its abundance of challenges, but nestled in between each increasingly difficult level is a fun little story that gives it all purpose.
The characters you meet give life and personality to an otherwise monotone and help flesh out exactly what’s happening and why you, the player, are part of it.
Triple Take’s focus is definitely the 50 levels of punishing platforming, but there’s just enough happening behind the scenes that, even if you somehow effortlessly breezed through the core gameplay, you’d still walk away feeling like you got something out of your time in-game.
But how do all the little components work together to create a charming, if not very familiar, experience?
Let’s saddle up with Indie Games Culture and digitize ourselves to enter the pixelated universe of Triple Take, where you’ll meet quirky characters and fall victim to the same hazard over, and over, and over, and over, and over.
Mastering the Art of Repetition
When I first booted up Triple Take and got a taste of its concept of level repetition, I was concerned that the gimmick would grow tiring.
Clearly, it wouldn’t be easy for FlyAway to deliver on what winds up being 150 levels in 50 slots, but I certainly underestimated either the ease of such a feat or the developer’s talent.
The first time you run through a level, dodging floor spikes and flamethrowers, you can see what elements will change in the subsequent run. Floor tiles wear signs of decay, indicating that, during your next run, they won’t be there.
What’s left behind could either be a gaping hole or another hazard, possibly a row of spikes or a wind generator designed to throw you off track. You may even be sent to an entirely different part of the level you didn’t know existed.
So while the thought of having to play the same level three times over sounds very repetitive, there are enough changes that increase the challenge and keep things fresh. However, when you keep dying in the same spot, things can get a little frustrating.
Mastering Triple Take takes a mix of keyboard control and patience. You can just hold down on the right arrow and tap the spacebar to jump a few times and expect to make it to the end safely.
Not only are wall jumping and bouncing platforms common traversal techniques, but there are also many instances where timing is key. Jump too soon or too late off a platform, and you may plummet to your death or land right on top of a flying bat.
Luckily, the controls are very simple and you’ll only use your directional keys to move left, right, or shift position on ropes and your spacebar to jump. How long you hold the spacebar down dictates how high you’ll jump, which is something you’ll need to keep in mind in every level.
I can’t say how many initial deaths were simply because I forgot to hold it down or tap it quickly. When you get a hang of it, it is possible to build up a rhythm during most levels. There were some that I snailed crawled my way through because, by death 30, I realized my run ‘n jump strategy wasn’t working.
Making It About Something
The thing about a precision platformer is that it can feel like a slog. If it’s just level after level of punishing layouts and near-impossible hazards, you’re bound to step away much sooner into the game and possibly never come back.
Like others in the genre, Triple Take intertwines a simple but fun story that slowly unfolds between levels.
At first, it just seems like you’re trapped in a pixelated world with a quartet of strangers, including the always-hungry Flux to the gruff Trine.
But as the difficulty progresses, the truth unravels and you find yourself navigating a light psychological horror narrative marked by a mysterious villain, scattered onscreen anomalies, and your own unexplainable presence.
It’s not an entirely cohesive story, and it does feel a little shallow as a tool to keep you playing, but the characters are neat, the writing is clever, and the overall plot makes good use of Triple Take’s spin on precision platforming.
What I enjoyed most about the story is how it utilized my actual computer files.
Because it’s all about a rogue program, several occasions throughout had me digging for files in designated folders and either moving or deleting them. It’s such a small touch, but it’s enough to break up the potential monotony of running, jumping, and dying.
Not That Much of a Visual Treat
Every game has to have a weak spot, and for Triple Take, it’s the visuals. The pixelated design and aesthetic fit well with the story FlyAway crafted, but at no point is it a treat to look at.
Each world is doused in a singular color, starting with white and ending in a shockingly deep red. Since you’re stuck in a retro-styled game, all the characters are very simple sprites that don’t have much in the way of that any visual “wow.”
Even the worlds are devastatingly dull after the first world, as you’ll realize that not much is going to change despite how far you progress. Sure, new hazards are introduced in each of the five worlds, but visually, they don’t add much of anything.
The biggest variety is in the bosses you’ll face throughout, with designs ranging from what looks like an unfinished version of Sinistar to a devilish mimic of the player character.
Since the real pull of the game is the mechanics and not so much its style, it’s fairly easy to overlook the otherwise uninspired visual design. Especially when there’s another component to Triple Take that more than makes up for the look of the game.
A Score to Ease Your Pains
It’s a marvel at how the score the original score really brings life to the entire game. Tobias Roberts created an original soundtrack for Triple Take, infusing his talent for manipulating a synthesizer to add a touch of energy to the platforming. It’s upbeat and fun when appropriate, and more sullen as more of the overall story is revealed.
It’s a shame the soundtrack isn’t sold separately because it’s absolutely worth listening to on its own if you appreciate the electrified sounds of synthwave.
You’ve Definitely Played This One Before
I could say “If you’ve played one precision platformer, you’ve played them all,” but that’s not entirely true. Super Meat Boy and Celeste are very different in how they approach the genre, from a mechanical and visual standpoint.
Triple Take, however, is very much so like others of its kind. That’s not to say it isn’t worth playing, though. Just because it emulates other platformers doesn’t discredit the fact that, overall, it’s an entertaining game.
The reality, though, is if you’ve hated other precision platformers, this is one to skip. Its traditional style of gameplay offers nothing so different from similar titles that you’d want to subject yourself to the occasional anguish of being stuck on a level.
Bring Your Patience for a Rewarding Experience
Triple Take can challenge even the most skilled players, so there’s really only one rule to enjoying yourself: Keep patient.
Your biggest enemy in a game like this is impatience, as you’ll rush through and make one minor error. Luckily, dying during the third leg of a level only sends you back to the beginning of the third leg.
However, that can be quite painful when you’ve painstakingly made it through and make a wrong move because you were too anxious to get to that final white flag.
The more you play, the more you’ll feel confident laying down on those arrow keys, but Triple Take has a knack for throwing surprises your way. And if you’re not paying close attention or giving yourself time to react, you’re setting yourself up for an imminent demise.
There are no lives or continues to account for, but I found myself taking upwards of 50 tries in levels where I failed to go slow and exhibit patience.
Despite its difficulty — and sometimes because of it — Triple Take can be a thoroughly fun experience that rewards players with a quirky little story.
- Traditional platforming gameplay is very familiar
- Overcoming big challenges feels rewarding
- Stellar original soundtrack brings each level to life
- Story and characters are a nice way to break up the level
- 50 levels somehow didn’t feel long enough
- Some moments of framerate stutter
- Steep difficulty curve in some levels
- Visuals are nothing to get excited about
Precision platforming is a genre not without options. If you wind up loving Triple Take, you may want to consider playing any of these similar titles:
- Jump King
- Super Meat Boy
- Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX
Question: Where Can I Play Triple Take?
Answer: Triple Take is a Steam exclusive, and there has currently been no word about bringing the game to any other platform. Because of the reliance on being able to move system files, it’s highly unlikely Triple Take will make its way to consoles.
Question: Does Triple Take Offer Controller Support?
Answer: Tripe Take does offer limited controller support. You will need a mouse to get through the story elements that require you to manipulate system files. The game will work with any controller that’s compatible with Steam.
Question: Can You Skip Levels in Triple Take?
Answer: Unfortunately, there is no ability to skip ahead if you’re having difficulty with a level. You will need to be patient and make your way through all 50 levels to be able to complete the game.
Triple Take Review: The Verdict
There are absolutely worse ways to spend eight hours. FlyAway did a great job putting its spin on a genre that isn’t easy to make unique.
Sure, there’s a lot of repetition and if you’re familiar with precision platformers, the gameplay won’t feel entirely new, but there’s enough for Triple Take to have its own personality.
A simple but striking art style, energetic score, and fun (if not slightly unoriginal) narrative complement the standard running and jumping controls of the genre.
If you’re not someone that can handle dying often, Triple Take simply isn’t for you. Death is all part of the experience as you go through the cycle of learning, testing, and failing until you finally find the combination of movements and timing that gets you to the flag.
Admittedly, later levels seem a bit unfair in some sections, but I was able to complete all 50 levels, so it’s certainly not impossible.
In later levels, I experienced moments where my framerate dropped to a crawl, and I honestly am not entirely sure it wasn’t by design.
It didn’t take way from the experience, but it did hinder the challenge of one of the boss fights. Because the game slowed down so much, it felt like I had entered a cheat code to better manage my movements.
The instances of slowdown were infrequent, but worth a mention since the entire game relies on fast-paced movements.
After about eight hours spent zooming across monochromatic levels, I am only one achievement away from 100% completion. I collected all of the scrolls found on each level and defeated the relentless final boss.
I would have gone for the last achievement, but I’m at a loss as to where to find the “Mystery Man” that, per the achievement name, can be found “Beneath the Trees.”
I’m not even entirely sure what collecting the scrolls did, as the achievement is vaguely titled “The Truth of This World.” I think it unlocked the game’s soundtrack, but I can’t find confirmation.