- Format: PC (version reviewed), Mac, PSN, XBLA
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Lace Mamba Global/Focus Home Interactive, Atlus
- Developer: Frozenbyte
- Players: 1 – 3
- Site: www.trine2.com
Having a knight, a wizard and a thief simultaneously adventuring together seems like a fairly reasonable Halloween costume line-up or an unspecialised MMO raid party. It also sounds like the most obvious cast for a side-scrolling adventure game. In 2009, Frozenbyte struck the hearts of many with their game Trine that perfected this seemingly obvious formula. Two years on and they have made a sequel, but does it live up to the original game’s charm? If you just want this review in its simplest form, the answer is an absolutely corking “Yes and more.”
If you missed the first game then we’ll recap. It all started when a wizard, thief and knight touched an artefact called the Trine. It bound their souls together and sent them on an adventure. Part of being Trine-bound meant that players could instantly switch between characters to overcome certain puzzles and obstacles. The wizard conjures physical objects into existence and levitates them, the thief is highly mobile with her grappling hook and the knight is proficient at bludgeoning nasties to death. This aspect has not changed at all in Trine 2.
What has changed are a number of features from the original game that have been chopped to make the experience flow more smoothly. The inventory and special items have completely disappeared. You can no longer give specific characters benefits like unlimited air underwater or extra health with random trinkets. The only collectible items are experience orbs, poems and pieces of concept art. Characters no longer have an energy reserve either, meaning there is no penalty to constantly using fire arrows or spamming an area with summoned cubes and planks. This streamlining makes the game a lot easier to pick up and encourages experimentation and using abilities, instead of punishing overzealous use. It makes the game a lot more fun.
Puzzles are usually a case of navigating tricky terrain to get from the left side of the screen to the right, with the occasional door mechanism or gaping pit thrown in for good will. Whilst this might sound quite samey, each situation feels unique and can require some real brain power to solve. The one downside we found was the overreliance on the wizard and his block conjuring abilities. Summoning physical stepping stones into the world was always the most obvious (and in many cases only) way to get through most tricky areas. The thief can get herself through some situations with her grapple; but the knight seems fairly useless outside of combat or tasks that involve breaking things. That is of course the knight’s function, but we found ourselves puzzling and platforming a lot more than we were fighting.
Joining the improved mechanics are the gloriously designed environments. Level design remains as fiendish as ever, with several puzzles making you um and ah for minutes before the necessary element snaps in your brain and you discover the solution. Couple this with beautiful scenery and animated 3D backgrounds that are genuinely awe inspiring and you get a visual treat that even the fussiest of graphic grinches can’t grumble about.
The excellent presentation doesn’t stop at the amazing graphics; just about everything you experience serves as an immersive influence that compels you to play. Trine 2 feels like an interactive fairy tale that caters to everyone. The narrator tells the story as you go along and each character occasionally chirps in with their own bits of quirky dialogue. These serve to advance the story, but also provide the player with hints should you find yourself staring at the same chasm or sealed door for long enough.
The major new feature in Trine 2 is online multiplayer. The original game only allowed local co-op play, but the sequel has now opened the floodgates to the scary wide world of the Internet. Use the server browser or jump into a quick match though matchmaking to drop into the main adventure with up to two other players. Having three people tackle the puzzles and goblin ambush attempts is a fantastic experience and unlike the majority of current online games out there.
Multiplayer can also make it much easier in places, and it almost feels like cheating. There are so many occasions in singleplayer that will leave you thinking “This would be much easier with another person helping.” If you can trust yourself not to simply levitate your teammates on a wizard plank to the other side of the problem and then wait for the game to respawn you with them then online is a real laugh. Even if you do decide to cheat the game a little bit, it is very fun and a joy to play. You will giggle every time someone accidently summons a cube above you that thwarts your heroic jump attempt.
Local multiplayer is also very well implemented. Good support like this is to be expected on consoles, but even the PC has brilliant local play capabilities. You don’t even need a set of spare USB gamepads to play on the same PC. The game supports multiple mice and keyboards which works brilliantly, if you can find the space to use them. It took us a slight fiddle in the game options to get it all working, but it wasn’t a huge feat and definitely worth the effort.
Trine 2 is an incredible game and easily tops the brilliant original. It is a charming adventure that can appeal to a very wide audience, but at the same time does not compromise on the challenge with several brilliant physics and platform based puzzles in the mixture. The boxed collector’s edition even comes with an artbook, original soundtrack and a copy of Trine 1. If you like your swords and spells applied to side scrolling adventures then it doesn’t get much better than this. Likewise, if you’re looking for an adventure game that is easy to get into and great fun to play, Trine 2 will not disappoint.