After a frustrating wait due to issues with the SCEE, the anticipated side-scrolling adventure Trine 2 has at last been made available to fans on the European Playstation Network. The original Trine was a solid platformer with an emphasis on physics and skeleton bashing antics, but rather than just provide more of the same, this sequel is looking to build on what came before whilst making good on the flaws that plagued its predecessor. Thankfully, developer Frozenbyte can break open a bottle of bubbly and toast to a job well done, as Trine 2 offers superb gameplay in a package so pretty that you’ll want to forget the drabness of the real world entirely.
Zoya the Thief, Pontius the Knight and Amadeus the Wizard are thrust together once again by a magical artefact known as The Trine and tasked with saving the day by combining their skills. Zoya is nimble and handy with a bow, Pontius is perfect for smashing through enemies and Amadeus is irreplaceable when magic is the only way forward. The reasons for the reunion and personal motivations are kept to a bare minimum in a simple tale of sibling rivalry and betrayal. The dialogue and voice acting keep things entertaining, as characters offer their two cents on events as well as the world around them.
It’s a joy to bounce on mushrooms to reach collectibles above, to swing under wooden platforms and to fire arrows from afar to hit a cocky goblin right in the face. It’s not always as much fun to swing the sword in combat (with each surprise brawl quickly turning into a bad case of defending via the shield and following up with some frantic button bashing), but at least it’s never overdone with constant respawns – an irritation from the original game that’s been removed this time around. The amount of enemy types has increased and skeletons are nowhere in sight, but with combat taking a back seat in Trine 2 it’s mostly your dexterity and grey matter that will be put to the test.
Puzzles get more complex as things progress, with the trio having to make use of conjured boxes and planks as well as manipulate pipes, logs and flimsy leaves in order to navigate the perils of the terrain. There is a hint system in place for when you’re well and truly stumped, but the game can be choosy as to when this verbal assistance is offered. The developers have been both crafty and creative with the devilish mind benders here, though there may be times when you’ll feel like you cheated rather than made your way through as the developer intended. Things can get fiddly, especially where rotating objects is concerned, but these puzzles rarely outstay their welcome and offer a real sense of achievement once conquered.
And so we get to the very thing you’ll notice first about Trine 2… it’s absolutely stunning. Everything from the sparkling effects and majestic backgrounds to the way water runs down a giant leaf will have your jaw hanging but inches above the floor, proving once and for all that this game is leaps and bounds above its predecessor. Even the most threatening caves feature superb colour hues and level-specific touches, never coming close to what might be considered dreary – this is a fantasy world bursting with visual splendour, where every detail comes together to create a story book atmosphere unrivalled at such a modest asking price.
Trine 2 is also every collection nut’s dream. Blue orbs scatter the lands, sometimes providing their own challenge by hiding behind destructible walls and within hard-to-reach crevices. Artwork can be discovered throughout and the same holds true for poems, which steadily become darker in tone as more of the backstory is revealed. There’s no real need to push yourself to uncover these items and despite our hesitance to refer to them as ‘treasures’, it’s likely that you’ll enjoy exploring the world and uncover these secrets on your own terms.
What might be considered a game maker (with its absence becoming a game breaker for some) is the inclusion of an online multiplayer mode. Two players can tag along in local co-op and take the reins of the remaining characters, but this has since been extended to players across the globe. Having more players will make things considerably easier, especially where puzzles are concerned, so you might want to play through the campaign alone if a stiff challenge is more your style. In multiplayer, the skill tree for levelling up and upgrading characters is shared amongst players, and although this is still present from the first outing, it’s worth noting that Trine 2 has removed the item equip system which boosted characters with abilities such as underwater breathing.
Dazzling in design and addictive in the gameplay department, Trine 2 is a spectacular fantasy romp that shouldn’t be missed by anyone with a penchant for high-quality platforming with a puzzling twist. It’ll get you swinging, slicing, jumping and thinking as you venture towards the next gorgeous land ripe for exploration. Combat can be awkward and you’ll fumble with the controls as you attempt to manipulate objects, but these are just minor blemishes on a downloadable title that simply shouldn’t be missed.
This review is based on the PS3 version of Trine 2 which was purchased by D+PAD.
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