Trine 2: E pluribus unum, one more time

January 6, 2012

The original Trine came out of nowhere, providing players with the closest thing to a Lost Vikings sequel they could imagine. Or maybe that’s just my interpretation of it. Nevertheless, Trine succeeded because of its three character dynamic, fun puzzles and mostly-enjoyable platforming. Although it doesn’t change things up too much, Trine 2 manages to keep that winning formula fresh with plenty of new and interesting levels and puzzles.

The first Trine was a good looking game, but Trine 2 is a visual improvement in almost every way. The art direction is generally the same, but it’s all much sharper and more colorful than ever. There are subtleties in the backgrounds and environments that really add to the charm of this world, making it one of the better looking downloadable titles I’ve seen in a while.

The basic gameplay remains intact from the original. You have three characters: the wizard, the thief, and the knight, each with their own special talents and abilities. The wizard can create boxes and platforms, the thief can shoot arrows and grapple onto all wooden surfaces and the knight has a handy shield and will remain as your main attacker for most of the game. Each character has their own strengths in weaknesses depending on the situation. A hoard of goblins is approaching? Break out the thief for long-range attacks, and keep the knight on hand for close encounters. Need to do some puzzle-solving? The wizard is your man, always ready to create some boxes and use his magic to move most objects in the environment.

The dynamic between the three characters is what makes Trine 2, like the original, special. Every puzzle you encounter can be solved in many different ways. Although you’ll rely a lot on the wizard for these sections, you never know when the knight’s hammer-throwing ability or the thief’s grappling hook will come in handy. The puzzles work so well because of the many ways you can approach them, with each method providing an equally challenging, but never frustrating, set of tasks.

One small problem I ran into with the puzzles is that the physics and collision detection can be a little wonky at times. Sometimes, boxes I would create in tight spaces would just disappear with no explanation, and in other cases they would clip through the environment and re-appear somewhere else. At one point I was tasked with moving a boulder using the wizard, but when I dropped it the boulder had somehow bounced up and gotten stuck somewhere in the environment, making me have to reload my previous save. These moments are rare, thankfully, but they can make certain puzzles more annoying than necessary.

Each level is finely crafted, both in terms of visuals and gameplay. You will be in many of the typical video game areas, like the forest area, the ice area, the fire area, etc., but the way these elements are used for a lot of the puzzles makes it feel a bit less cliché than you might expect.  Like in the first game, there are pickups scattered throughout the levels that gain you experience (which you can also get from defeating enemies). You use the experience to gain new abilities, such as allowing the thief to shoot ice or fire arrows or letting the wizard create more objects at once. The upgrades expand the puzzles even more so, making things a bit more varied in the end.

The biggest fault with Trine 2 is that it’s more of the same. There are new things to be seen, and there is a new (albeit forgettable) story, but it is just more Trine. If you want that, you have a great game to look forward to. It still does plenty of interesting things with the three characters and the puzzles you have to solve, which is enough to keep the game from feeling stale. If you’re looking for a game to keep you busy before the next batch of new releases hits, this is one to check out.

Pros: Gorgeous visuals, intriguing open-ended puzzles, silky smooth platforming, brilliant level design
Cons: Some wonky physics and collision detection, doesn’t change much from the first game

Score: 4/5

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