When Frozenbyte originally announced Trine for PSN back in late 2008, the game quickly moved to the top of the list of new games I wanted to play. Due to the delayed release on PSN other games made their way into my gaming rotation and the original title slipped past me. After playing the demo for the original title months later, I felt that the demo was all I needed. Something was lacking. The game was visually appealing, the puzzles were interesting, but the controls didn’t work the way I expected them to.
Fortunately, Frozenbyte has taken the best aspects of the first title, kept and improved those, as well as added some features that many people had hoped would have been part of the original, namely online co-op. At its core, Trine 2 is a puzzle game played out from the perspective of a side-scrolling platformer, with a gorgeous fantasy sheen lovingly painted on in exquisite detail. What makes each portion of the game more than just a puzzle game, though, is the ability to play through each level using only one of the three fantasy archetypes: Pontius the warrior, Amadeus the wizard, and Zoya the thief. Of course, completing each level with only one of the character types is more for the challenge of achievement/trophy hunters. I found that when playing the game solo, I often would single out either the wizard or the thief as their abilities tended to be more robust for puzzle solving.
The story that unfolds in Trine 2 has the three heroes tasked with finding a missing princess, which quickly leads to mysterious family affairs which transpire across many wondrous regions spanning beautiful forests and frozen tundras, dank sewers and ancient marine ruins. Each section of the game is presented in one of the many locales, all of which are absolutely beautiful to look at. Many times while I was playing I found myself stopping just to marvel at the level of detail that was put into each environment. A fair amount of the detail is simply stage dressing, but a lot of the additional detail is used to either highlight or hide hidden treasure that gives the game plenty of replay value. I say this because often while playing solo, I would find a hidden alcove, but either didn’t have the wit or the dexterity to reach the treasure on my own.
Let me back up for a moment to give a proper explanation of the game mechanics. Each hero has the ability to jump, but playing as the wizard, Amadeus has the ability to cast a spell to create intricate, gear-like boxes as well as pick them up and move them around. Amadeus can also pick up various objects found in the world such as pipes or hinged platforms or even enemies if his skills are leveled up enough. Pontius can block attacks with his shield or attack enemies or barriers with sword or a warhammer (again once points have been placed in that particular skill tree). Zoya has the ability to shoot objects and enemies with bow and arrow, swing from wooden objects with a grappling hook, and turn invisible for a short period of time (if that skill is picked).
Leveling skills is achieved by killing enemies as well as collecting orbs that are strewn about the levels (some obvious, others hidden in the aforementioned alcoves). Playing solo, I found myself putting a lot of my points in the wizard skill tree as his abilities to conjure multiple gear-like boxes and platforms (and then move them around at will) became very handy in solving a lot of the puzzles. Of course, each of the skill trees for each character has distinct benefits, such as Zoya’s arrows being able to freeze enemies in their tracks (or alternately setting fire to the enemies). Pontius’ shield can freeze enemies if a block deflects an attack and his hammer can be thrown almost like a powerful boomerang. One thing that I didn’t realize until late into my playthrough was the fact that points placed into a skill tree aren’t permanent. By that I mean several skills deep into a particular hero’s path require all of the skill before it, but each additional skill requires more collected experience points. Fortunately, the skills can be added or subtracted, allowing a sort of meta min/max strategy to play out for each of the hero’s skills as needed in the various levels.
I played Trine 2 on my PC via Steam and had no problems using wired Xbox 360 controllers. From time to time I would encounter a puzzle that was too tricky to solve on my own and the game allows for such a perfect drop-in/drop-out system for two additional players that I would often times interrupt my son’s marathon Minecraft sessions so that he could pop in for a moment and help quickly solve the puzzle I found myself stuck at. The funny thing about going about solving puzzles in this fashion is that almost the second after I would explain what I wanted my son to do, the solution to solving the puzzle, as if I was playing solo, would strike. While not all puzzles were overly taxing, there were plenty of self-congratulatory “ah-ha” moments as I worked through the various physics based conundrums.
As I stated earlier, the core of Trine 2‘s experience is that of a very clever puzzle game. While there is a story to move the heroes along, I can’t say that it is the most engrossing or unique story I’ve ever encountered in a video game. The heroes are mostly stereotypical tropes from a high fantasy world, as Zoya the thief is mostly interested in treasure, Pontius is constantly talking about food or bashing things and Amadeus is the overly cautious wizard that spouts his knowledge of any and all items found throughout the game. Even with each hero being framed within these stereotypes, the humor and rapport that each character has with one another makes for all of the encounters to be enjoyable without feeling overplayed. The puzzles throughout Trine 2 are the real draw to the game and while some of them may leave you scratching your head for a few minutes, the game never feels cheap or illogical. Playing solo is fun, but playing with friends is truly one of the best co-op experiences available.
+ Beautiful visual feast for the eyes
+ Levels are unique throughout the game
+ Supports online and drop-in/drop-out local co-op
– Some puzzles can be frustrating solo
– The story isn’t as strong as the puzzle design
Platform: Reviewed on PC; also available for PS3 via PSN and Xbox 360 via XBLA
Publisher: Atlus USA (consoles) / Frozenbyte (PC/Mac)
Release Date: PC – 12/7/2011, PSN – 12/20/2011, XBLA – 12/21/2011
Genre: Platformer / Puzzle
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1-3 (local and online)
Source: Steam review code provided by publisher