It’s either a bad medieval joke or the plot of a Trine game. Trine 2 is the immediate sequel to Trine, the lauded co-op platforming action game by Finnish developers Frozenbyte. More refinement than reinvention, Trine 2 is a fairly safe sequel which builds on the great gameplay of the original.
All of the heroes from the original return in Trine 2, brought together once again by the mystical artifact known as the Trine, which leads them to a new land in need of their assistance against the menacing nasties. The plot is a bit ho-hum, but the characters are moderately entertaining, and it never gets in the way of the gameplay, which is what the game is really all about.
If you’ve played the first Trine you’ll be ready to jump into the mechanics of Trine 2 right away. Like its predecessor it is primarily a puzzle-platformer, with some combat thrown in for good measure. Each character maintains their original abilities and support roles. Amadeus the wizard uses magic to manipulate objects and create boxes to jump on, Pontius the knight can break walls and deflect projectiles as well as easily defeat enemies, and Zoya the thief can shoot arrows and grapple onto wooden surfaces.
The world of Trine 2 is divided into levels, and within each level are several contained rooms, similar to classic Metroid games. Progressing through these rooms often requires a clever use of a combination of the abilities of the three heroes, as well as some combat with enemy nasties. Dotted through the levels are magical vials which will give you skill points every time you collect fifty of them, allowing you to improve your heroes’ abilities.
Each character is capable of fighting, though the skills of Amadeus make him a bit ungainly in combat (you will have to drop boxes on the heads of enemies to kill them). All three heroes have individual life bars, and if one character’s life is completely depleted they can no longer be used until you pass a new checkpoint. Most of the battles are not particularly challenging, but they add some fun variety.
Puzzles in Trine 2 start out very simple, and generally involve minor physics like moving to one end of a ramp to make the other end rise to make a jump. As the game progresses they gradually become more complex, and many of them have multiple solutions. The breadth and cleverness of puzzles is where Trine 2 really stands out above its predecessor. Clever management of your characters is essential, and you may find yourself frustrated if you let one die because of the difficulty it can present in progression. In particular the combination of puzzle elements and some challenging platforming makes progression satisfying.
In addition to the standard single-player experience, Trine 2 offers a much more hectic, and more enjoyable, multiplayer component. Up two three players can play online at once, but each one must play as a different character, requiring some coordination to advance. The chaos of having three people, especially three people with mics and headsets playing at once is one of the game’s greatest joys, and I highly recommend everyone try to complete as much of the game in co-op as possible.
While most of the game may seem very similar to the original Trine, the graphical improvements will leave no doubt that Trine 2 is a sequel. The already gorgeous art direction has been kicked up several notches, and on a technical level the detail is really great. Music is gorgeous and appropriate, and serves to enhance the rich atmosphere. The collector’s edition, available on Steam for $10 more, is absolutely worth the price for the gorgeous digital artbook and soundtrack.
What really tops the presentation off, if you’ve got the equipment for it, is the awesome use of nVidia’s 3D Vision. Despite being a side-scrolling game, Trine 2 offers some of the best 3D I’ve ever seen. There are a number of customization options to make the 3D experience personal and pleasant. Coupled with the gorgeous atmosphere, Trine 2 is a really great showcase for the ways in which 3D can greatly enhance immersion.
Trine 2 isn’t a terribly long game. You can expect to get anywhere between six and nine hours out of it depending on how much you struggle with the puzzles and goof around in co-op. This would be too low for a $60 game, but at Trine 2’s awesome $15 price point it’s more than enough, and you’ll enjoy every hour you spend with it.
It’s great to see small studios publish quality products, and after a holiday of releases like this one it’s easy to overlook smaller releases like Trine 2, but that would absolutely be a mistake. This is a sequel of the highest quality, and while it perhaps plays things a bit too safe by not introducing any new characters or gameplay mechanics, it improves on its predecessor in every way. Trine 2 is a gorgeous and incredibly fun experience, easy to recommend to almost anyone.
This review is based on a PC digital copy of Trine 2, provided by Nvidia.