The first Trine managed an impressive feat. Bringing back the magic of three way co-op from ye olde Blizzard title The Lost Vikings, and heaping on a heavy dose of fairy tale whimsy and magic, it was clever, charming and incredibly distinctive but lacked in one area: if you wanted to play it co-operatively, your friends had to be in the same room. With the sequel, Frozenbyte clearly had their first task all but (pardon the pun) spelled out for them.
Trine 2 retains everything we loved about the original, and then turns it up to 11. The three playable characters with their own skills, the physics based action platforming and, most importantly; the storybook atmosphere which runs through the whole package, giving the series a distinct identity that wouldn’t look out of place next to a big budget adaptation of a Hans Christian Anderson story. Whether it’s the warm wizened voice of the narrator between levels or the whimsical and gorgeous soundtrack backing the action playing through Trine 2 is about as about as close as you’re going to get to the definition of videogame fairytale.
Using a mixture of physics-based action and platforming, each of the three characters have their strengths and weakness – the Knight is the strength of the bunch, the Wizard is able to manipulate and create objects and platforms while the Thief takes up the nimble acrobatic category. As a single player you can switch between each of these three characters to get to the goal, but now with online multiplayer for the sequel, you can also pick a class – or indeed, multiples of a class – and work together to proceed. The biggest effect this change has had on the levels is that solutions are far more open to interpretation than the previous game, which has both positive and negative implications.
On the one hand, it makes the game feel more fluid and dynamic than it’s predecessor. Of course, again experience that allows you to buy skills and improve your character is offered in bottles that encourage you to try all possibilities, and at times reduces the feeling of getting truly stuck to the point of frustration. On the negative side, it does feel like you can almost stumble across a solution sometimes, and you frequently do feel like asking yourself “was I supposed to do that?” after getting past some of the puzzles, especially when you see an experience potion dangling in the air in a position you didn’t even consider.
Where Trine 2 really shines though is it’s beauty. It might be the most beautiful game we’ve seen in a while – from general scenery to individual areas, every object seems to have had a massive amount of care and time spent on it’s appearance. The screenshots here give you some idea, but to see the game in action is something else. It’s not whether it uses the most polygons, or whether it uses fancy box blurb features, it just looks fantastic. Each area has it’s own distinct visual feel and you could quite happily take a screenshot of nearly any point in the game and use it as an desktop wallpaper – in fact I’d positively encourage that.
The game isn’t perfect – combat is still relatively simplistic, and some of the upgrades feel underutilized – for example, the Thief has both frost and fire arrows, but aside from one freezing enemies and the other setting them on fire, they don’t really have much more use – despite there being at least a couple of examples of elemental style puzzles they could be used for. However, Trine 2 is a wonderful, charming game and a worthy successor to Trine. It’s a quietly confident title, relying mainly on looks to out and out stun you but providing some solid good fun underneath.
Verdict – On Target
Platforms Available – PC, 360 (XBLA), Playstation 3 (PSN/SEN)
Platform Reviewed – PC (Steam)
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