Trine 2 – Review

Platform | Release Date
PS3 | December 20, 2011
360 | December 21, 2011
PC | December 7, 2011
Mac | December 7, 2011
Developed by Frozenbyte
Published by Atlus

The Pitch:

Trine 2 is a sidescrolling game of action, puzzles and platforming. You play as one of the three heroes who make their way through dangers untold in a fantastical fairytale world.

Physics-based puzzles with fire, water, gravity and magic; Wicked Goblins; Climb the tallest trees and towers in the enchanted forest! Join your friends in the adventure: Trine 2 has online co-op.

The formula for Trine 2 seems rather simple: Take the already engrossing gameplay of Trine, mix in online co-op and some new locations, and toss it out for mass consumption. In actuality, this formula yields something far better than the sum of these parts. Thanks to improved level design and some entirely new mechanics, Frozenbyte has managed to create a special experience for anyone who enjoys platformers.

It’s tricky to recommend games strictly on the merit of their co-op mode. Your experiences are so different than anyone else’s, and are largely a by-product of how much you like the people you’re playing with. Though a game’s focus may be co-op, it’s not unreasonable for the consumer to also demand that single-player be equally tight. If a game is enjoyable on my own, logic dictates it will be even more so with my friends. Trine 2 follows this logic, and manages to remain enjoyable in either flavor.

Though they contain the same levels, characters, and enemies, the single player and co-op modes are vastly different. So much of Trine 2’s single player is about finding unique – sometimes lucky – solutions to increasingly complex puzzles. These puzzles often require split-second timing and resilience; you may need to try the same thing 20 times hoping that the physics will be on your side next time. Co-op, on the other hand, is a playground experience. With the vast power set of two Trine heroes at once, it’s far easier to brute force your way through puzzles when you tire of trying the elegant solution.

But let’s talk improvements, shall we? Trine was a feast for the eyes, and that’s certainly true of the sequel. Though the vibrant phosphorescent look of the original is back at points, there is much more variance in Trine 2’s visuals. The story takes the heroes deep within enchanted forests, through fiery eldritch ruins, and across wintry worlds forgotten by time. Each of these environments looks distinct and stunning. I took 22 screenshots during the playthrough of this game, and agonized over narrowing them down to the ones included in this review.

We’re outfitted with some new toys this time around as well, but none come without sacrifice. The thief gains the ability to freeze enemies with ice arrows and a somewhat useless stealth power, but gives up the ability to fire multiple arrows at once. The wizard won’t be coasting through levels on those floating platforms of his own creation anymore, but he can pick up and fling enemies into the nearest spike pit – a power that finally makes the wizard somewhat capable in small battles. The knight can no longer throw environmental objects, but flinging around a giant hammer largely makes up for it. Some of these missing abilities, particularly the floating platforms and multiple arrows, were the original Trine’s most exploitable powers. Though it’s difficult to understand their exclusion from a canonical perspective, their absence definitely helps keep the player honest. As fun as breaking games can be, there’s enough attention to level design this time to make you want to play within the rules.

There are a bevvy of new environmental puzzle types to take advantage of some of the heroes’ new powers. The knight’s throwing hammer is required to break down walls throughout the game, and in later levels it needs to be fully upgraded to add its explosive effect. Thankfully, the point-buy system for powers is fully respec-able at any time, so if you dumped all your points into the wizard you’re not left up a creek.

Another major change for the series is the inclusion of boss battles. These moments are a perfect microcosm of Trine 2 itself. The bosses look magnificent and they require pattern recognition, delicate timing, and a not insignificant amount of luck to defeat. With one minor exception the boss fights are less smash and bash, and more puzzles in their own rights. When you consider how hellish the final boss fight from Trine was, the progress Frozenbyte has made at crafting enjoyable climax points is impressive.

I often hesitate to mention game length, because it never gives the whole story, but it was the most commonly asked question during this game’s open review stage. I believe I played through the single player in roughly 10-12 hours, but expect the co-op to be a far shorter experience. Additionally, it is worth noting that Trine 2 can be a bear on system resources. During my playthrough of this game, my desktop’s video card developed an overheating problem, and my laptop allowed me to play only 25 minutes at a time before requiring some cooldown time. Now, much of this can be attributed to aging hardware, but I would warn those who don’t crush the system requirements to try the demo at length before you buy.

Overall, Trine 2 is a distilled perfection of all the things that made its predecessor a richly engaging experience. By carving out the broken bits and replacing them with improved puzzles and combat, Frozenbyte has made a game that is better in all aspects to the first, even if you never manage to tackle it with a friend.

About Adam Bash

Adam Bash was the host of the Fall Damage podcast and is currently a contributor to Splitkick. He helps make the site do things.
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