Back in 2009, Shadowgrounds developer Frozenbyte released Trine, an innovative little puzzle-platformer whose gorgeous, colourful graphics and clever character-swapping gameplay mechanic earned it positive reviews and a legion of passionate fans. Fast forward to December 2011 – Trine sees a sequel, imaginatively titled Trine 2.
While the plot is a nice little way to tie the game together, the crux of Trine 2 is the physics puzzles requiring the interchanging of characters. You’re provided with the same playable cast as in the first game – Amadeus the wizard, who can conjure items and levitate objects, Pontius the knight, the tank of the group, and Zoya, the grappling, bow-slinging thief. Despite having very few speaking parts, the personalities of the three souls bonded by the “Trine” interact magnificently with one another.
The idea is that Amadeus, Pontius and Zoya were in the wrong place at the wrong time, resulting in their physical forms being locked in the “Trine”, an ancient blue glowy artifact thing. As a result of this, only one can exist at a time, with the other two being bound in this blue glowy artifact. Our heroes adventure across the mythical kingdom It’s a nice idea for the plot, and charming as it is, it all feels like it was written specifically as a capsule for the three-characters gameplay mechanism that is so integral to the game.
Graphically, Trine 2 is an absolute masterpiece. Sure, the puzzles are clever, and the gameplay is no short of excellent, but this game really destroys the boundaries when it comes to the quality of the environments. Never before has a game looked so brilliantly vibrant and colourful, with truly flawless, living, breathing environments that exude a sense of character equal to that of the characters themselves.
Single player is only half of the game. A hugely important part of Trine 2 is the multiplayer – in fact, when they contacted me, Frozenbyte pointed out “be sure to try out online co-op if you can”. Now, when you have three playable characters and three online players, one would assume that each player assumes the role of each character, right? Well, no. Unusually, in the multiplayer feature, each player takes on the role of all three characters, but only playing one at a time, as in singleplayer. It’s a nice idea, and eliminates any chance of a character being not needed in a certain part of the level. The multiplayer modes are fun enough playing alongside friends, but to make it feel like a true co-op game, there really needs to be more segments in which teamwork is required to pass a section of the level. Maybe in an expansion pack geared towards multiplayer gameplay we’ll see further development of this idea, but for now the co-op is fun but undercooked.
Trine 2 is a visual work of art. Let’s not let that point slide. While everything else about it is definitely positive, its environments are truly fantastic. You’re most likely going to have more fun with this either in single player or co-op with friends, but the experience online with random players will leave you feeling a little empty. This game really builds upon what made its predecessor such a surprise hit, and I can’t wait to see a third to develop further on this physics-puzzling, platforming, rope-swinging work of art.
Select Start Media was provided with a copy of Trine 2 by Frozenbyte, Inc.