A world of enchantment
If there’s a more beautiful game than Trine 2 this year, I sure haven’t seen it—what an absolutely striking little world this game creates. Very little about Trine 2 isn’t pure, whimsical fantasy, whether it’s the feverishly rich color palette, its scintillating lighting touches, or its spirit of fairytale magic that flows through every nook and cranny. There were moments along the way—the treehouse fort with its moonlit wonder, the forests that seem to grow out of crystal—that made me stop and just drink in the surroundings, the little details that play in the corners. Trine 2’s talented artists must have had such a great time bringing their visions to interactive life.
It’s that tactile interactivity with the world that defines Trine 2’s gameplay, which exists largely as a puzzle-solving and platforming playground built out of physics. Pretty much everything you touch reacts with a weight, bounce, and sway that textures the feeling of connectivity to all the visual delights. Objects can be redirected to act as platforms, pushed and pulled to solve problems and carve out the ongoing path through the dense setting. The puzzles aren’t overly complicated, and you often can dissect a situation in a few different ways, sometimes finding an elegant solution and other times awkwardly manipulating an object just to barely get up to the next spot and move on. This is a platformer, after all, and there’s a lot of climbing and jumping and falling and collecting. It’s the sensation, the satisfaction of tangibility that makes even the more rudimentary tasks so much fun.
Returning from the first Trine and maintaining the same general abilities are the silky rogue, beefy knight, and cerebral wizard, each available from the start and interchangeable at any time during play; checkpoints are generous and tend to pop up right around a more trying puzzle or tricky, spike-filled drop, allowing you to bring back any of your fallen comrades easily and efficiently. This is a fantastic three-player cooperative experience; you’ll likely discover your favorite character, but part of the reward is switching back and forth and really finding the rhythm of the game and the joy of teamwork. Working solo’s hugely entertaining, but Trine 2’s certainly at its best if you’re adventuring with friends, and in what the developers have rightfully pointed to as the game’s integral improvement over Trine, you can now experience the tale online.
I had a soft spot for Trine, warts and all, appreciating how wonderfully nostalgic it felt and relishing its unabashed storybook fantasy. This sequel isn’t really all that different and vibrates on the same wonder and blithe spirit, but there’s just more of everything that was good about Trine, more layers and refinement. It’s better balanced and varied, inviting a further use of teamwork—and increasingly satisfying as a result. The wizard can conjure boxes and manipulate objects with his telekinetic powers, the rogue’s distinct as a long-range attacker and grappling-hook-swinger, and the knight plows through the enemy and scenery with his hammer and sword—in tandem, the three come together in basic but gratifying ways as you learn to better combine their powers for success, and the simple experience system is a nice reward toward enhancing your characters’ abilities. The game could’ve been more rigid, asking you to be very specific with puzzle solutions, but the open-ended feel’s part of the reward and especially engaging when you go after more difficult collectibles and uncover the more elegant solutions to pushing through a roadblock.
Trine 2 isn’t a manic, fast-paced experience, and in some ways, it’s more for a patient, unhurried player. The combat’s certainly better than before—slicing through a goblin with the knight feels meaty and powerful—but it’s more of a distraction than the main attraction. Instead, it’s the enchanting vibe and the physics-based tinkering of the pieces that make it all complete. Yes, the controls are soft and not quite on par with the best in the genre, but you can’t much fret in the end when there’s so much wizardly delight to be had in Trine 2.
SUMMARY: If there’s a more beautiful game than Trine 2 this year, I sure haven’t seen it.
- THE GOOD: Gorgeous looks and fun physics-based puzzles
- THE BAD: Controls could use a tighter feel
- THE UGLY: Smacking your friend when he screws up that platform you were just ready to grab onto
Trine 2 is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was on the PS3.