Pontius the knight, Amadeus the wizard and Zoya the thief are hurled into another adventure by the enigmatic Trine, a magical artifact. Can they save the kingdom again? Will Amadeus survive the wrath of his wife when he gets back home? Without a word, or a choice it seems, the Trine teleports the heroes to an unknown forest for a new journey.
For those new to the series, Trine 2 is a side-scrolling action platformer with puzzle elements. As in actual puzzle elements, not move-this-massive-glowing-ball-to-that-glowing-receptacle-type ‘puzzles’ that developers seem so keen on littering some franchises with. The Trine links the three heroes into one entity, meaning only one can be in play at a time. The trio will be hard-pressed to survive their mission unless they use their abilities in harmony. Each with separate health bars, the characters can die, and cannot then, obviously, be used and will require a checkpoint to revive. If all three meet a horrible doom, the action resets to the last checkpoint.
Thanks to Zoya, everyone’s upgrades from Trine 1 got fenced off, and the crew starts off with basic abilities and equipment. With a single hero on-screen, you can switch to another when the puzzles or combat require that person’s abilities. Amadeus magically creates boxes and planks and can also levitate objects, some many times heavier than what Pontius can move. Zoya is armed with a grappling hook and a bow and her nimble acrobatics will often get you out of a bind, or in the right position for a sneak attack. Pontius, armed with sword and shield is an awesome mêlée combatant, and his sledgehammer can break through weakened walls, floors and ceilings.
As our mostly intrepid three solve puzzles and explore the world around them, they collect orbs/vials which allow the characters to get new abilities. Every 50 orbs equal one skill point, which has to be shared between the three characters. Will you upgrade Amadeus to make him a better mage and slightly more combat-ready? Or does Pontius need better gear to dish out hate against the filthy goblins? Maybe Zoya needs to be able to escape from combat when things get rough, or needs some more powerful arrows?
Trine makes use of physics to make the puzzles come to life. The weight of characters and other objects make a big difference to various puzzles. Best of all is the variety of ways in which puzzles can be solved. Will you act like an acrobat and swing up and over the danger? Or will you reflect it with your mighty shield? My favourite option is levitating the block under the plank I am standing on, flying across the screen like a robed version of Magneto.
Trine 2 makes use of water physics, either in getting liquids to certain places, or avoiding liquids, like corrosive acid, to get through sections of the game.
Completely new to Trine 2 is multiplayer, which allows up to three players to hop into the same game. In this mode, the puzzle solving really starts to shine. Two players can absolutely break puzzles with clever platforming and co-operative skills. The system is fluid and doesn’t force players onto the same screen, and players wanting to take control of a specific hero will automatically notify the person playing that character of their intent. Multiplayer adds the benefit of having more hands available to solve puzzles, and also different ideas for those puzzles.
For extra challenge, try to solve an entire level with only one character, or if playing co-operatively, see if you can stick to just two of the three heroes. Otherwise, hunt for those orbs and collectables that you missed on your first playthrough. Though not as odd as the previous title, the collectables include badly written poems (which give some backstory to the plot) and concept artworks.
Don’t let the 2D side-scrolling fool you. Everything in Trine 2 is in glorious beautiful 3D, with dynamic light sources, water reflections and refractions, there is always something on screen worth taking a second look at.
The sound quality is exceptionally high, with good voice acting. While the dialogue is not witty by any measure, it does a good job of conveying the personalities of the characters, while endearing us to them.
Are you ready for a world of magical water, talking flowers and horrible poetry?
Tight, neat controls mean that the only frustration you will have is with the puzzles, not the platforming. Puzzles are varied enough to offer a change of pace, and having multiple solutions is pretty neat.
Design and Presentation: 8/10.
Stunning graphics make you forget about the 2D nature of the game. I felt a nostalgic twinge as the environments were eerily reminiscent of Abe’s Oddysee.
My first playthrough took just shy of nine hours. There are still many vials and collectables left out there, and playing this game multiplayer is a real treat, as you see how your friends go about solving puzzles in their own special way. (No, their methods are special, not them.)* Definitely has some replayability.
A really great game that combines two genres into a really fun package. Sadly, there are still no fireballs for Amadeus. And really, no wizard worth his salt is without a fireball spell.
*Ok, maybe them. But don’t tell anyone![Reviewed on PC, also available on PSN and XBLA]
Trine 2 is available on Steam right now – with box copies in stores next week.