In a gaming climate that has almost killed off the humble platformer, Trine 2 shines as a reminder of how much potential is still there for developers willing to work at it as Frozenbyte has done once again.
Players of the original 2009 Trine (PS3 and PC) will be able to jump in straight away, while 360 players might experience a longer adjustment, as the game doesn’t take much time to explain the game’s mechanics to the new player.
Essentially, you control three characters at once by swapping between them on the fly to solve the platforming puzzle at hand with only one character appearing on-screen at a time. The wizard levitates objects and conjures crates and planks to help you climb upwards, the thief fires arrows and has a grappling hook to attach to wooden surfaces and swing around, and the knight provides the muscle with a sword and shield combo or a sledgehammer that can also be used to smash through walls.
Before long, I found the game’s difficulty curve to be steeper than the original. Enemy tropes like goblins and spiders aren’t tough; it’s the puzzles and environmental hazards that provide the most frustration. It’s not a bad form of frustration though; it just takes a while to adjust and be able to read the situation and grasp where to start. An optional hint system gives you a nudge from the narrator after two or five minutes (you decide), but I found it to take much longer than that before it triggered. Of course, I promptly kicked myself when the solution was spelled out to me and turned off the hints to avoid further self-loathing.
New puzzle elements focus on water and portals. Water flows need to be manipulated to flow onto specific points to grow climbable plants. This could be a simple case of standing on a leaf and bending it downwards, or moving a giant gutter. More complicated situations involve creating planks for the water to run along. Moveable portal mirrors and air vents are also new elements and provide sterner challenges, but as long as you remember the other skills you have at your disposal and fully explore the area, you’ll find the solution. Overall, these new puzzles fit in wonderfully.
The game can be played through in single-player, swapping between characters at will, or you can go for online/offline multiplayer. Depending on if you choose Classic or Unlimited mode, you can choose the same characters or be limited to say one wizard at a time. The game becomes very easy with other players, as a wizard can levitate a crate with another player on it to reach a higher platform. On your own, you can’t stand on anything you wish to levitate. There are still a few decent puzzles requiring teamwork, and picking up any remaining XP bottles is a doddle with a friend. I’d recommend playing through the game solo first though; otherwise, you run the risk of another player doing all the puzzles themselves if they’re replaying it. If you’ve played Portal 2 online, you’ll know what I mean.
These screenshots don’t really do the game justice. Trine 2 is consistently gorgeous in every environment. Be it caves, forests, snowy mountains or beaches the fantasy storybook visuals are always top notch. The darkness of many scenes is countered with the glowing luminous colours emanating from the plant-life and magical elements. The action plays in 2D, but the ruined buildings and flora set dressing in the foreground and background adds a fantastic amount of visual depth.
In some ways, the game feels inferior to the original. In most cases, you must use a specific character to solve a puzzle, whereas the original usually had a way for any of the characters to solve it. This notion is supported by the large number of checkpoint portals that allow you to resurrect fallen party members. The first game really encouraged you to look for all the hidden items and XP bottles by giving you a Silver Trophy (PS3) for each stage completed to 100%. And instead of useful enhancement items, you’re now given obscure poems and concept art, making the hard work to reach them feel utterly redundant. Levelling up does allow you to buy a few upgrades like fire arrows, extra item conjuring or a throwing hammer, but the list doesn’t seem to be as extensive as the original.
Before extending the experience online, I got around six fantastic hours out of the game. Trine 2 is an enjoyable platformer that provides some challenging physics-based puzzles along the way. The lack of discoverable enhancement items seems like a lazy backwards step though. On the plus side, the new online multiplayer might convince you to play towards a 100% rating anyway.
- Challenging, but fair
- Gorgeous to look at
- Online multiplayer is a fun experience
- No extra items to equip
- Many puzzles not open to all characters, unlike like the original
- Story could fit on a beer mat