In the recent onslaught of big name holiday titles on the market, most games of smaller stature opted to push their releases farther away to avoid being left to the wayside. However, one game decided to battle for the attention of gamers away from titles such as Skyrim and Skyword Sword. Trine 2 is a sequel to the 2009 side-scrolling hybrid
that combined platforming, puzzle solving, and monster slaying into a pleasant surprise from Finnish developer Frozenbyte. The knight, thief, and wizard unite once again for another adventure that will require each of their special abilities to save the kingdom.
The story of Trine 2 is a simple affair that involves the game’s primary heroes of a knight, thief, and wizard uniting again by the power of the Trine artifact. The primary arc of events revolve around assisting a princess in finding and destroying a goblin king. There are hints scattered around levels in the forms of books and notes that expand the story of the princess and the relationship with her sister. It is not until the last few levels that the game remembers that it was presenting a story to players. The story can best be described as a subtle underlaying to the gameplay that simply offers extra inncentive to complete each level.
The real incentive to complete levels in Trine 2 can be contributed to the gameplay that will have players smashing on their space bar in order to time jumps across trenches of boiling magma. The primary focus of gameplay revolves around physic based puzzles that can involve multiple elements such as water, fire, and magic. In between puzzles, players will have to traverse platform sections that are further complicated by environmental dangers including spikes, falling magma, and magic turrets. Monsters of various sorts including goblins and giant crabs will attempt to impede progress or distract from solving puzzles. There are also a few boss battles that help in offering some variety to the platform and puzzle heavy levels.
The genuine delight of gameplay is in the ability to instantly switch between each of the three heroes. This allows for a great deal of freedom in how a player can decide to overcome the obstacles in levels. The knight's primary abilities are the use of his sword for dispensing enemies and shield to protect against against ranged attacks and environment dangers. The thief has the ability to swing and jump from wood surfaces with her hook. She is also equipped with a bow that is perfect for removing the theat of long range enemies. Lastly, the wizard is the most interesting hero primarly because of his abilities to create multiple boxes and planks for scaling envrionment obstacles. His other ability allows for the movement of heavy objects including boulders and elements in physic puzzles. Particular sections of levels are designed to offer more of an advantage to a certain character. For example, the knight is a great choice for sections that contain goblins or some other type of monster. However, most areas allow any of the heroes to be utilized in overcoming platforms and obstacles. The game truly shines when a challenging section is able to be accomplished by using the abilities of all three heroes.
Each of the heroes can gain additional abilities by leveling up their character through skill points found in levels. Some are quite helpful for both solving puzzles and combat, such as the thief’s ability to gain arrows that explode or the wizard’s ability to spawn multiple boxes or planks for traversing platform challenges. The abilities available later in the game prove to be quite helpful in solving some of the more difficult puzzles. Thus, a hero that is not completely upgraded might be left frustrated over a challenge’s solution. There are a few areas in the game that did prove quite difficult even with or without the hero upgrades.
From the beginning of the game to the last level, there is always an abundance of visual treats in both the characters and environments.The backdrops of the game’s levels are some of the most lush and detailed seen in a side-scroller. The lighting effects are a major factor in why the game looks as it does in every environment. Even if the level switches dramatically from a brightly lit forest to a dark cavern, the lighting is always able to capture the essence of each area. Also, the game engine behind Trine 2 is optimally balanced to allow for smooth gameplay without requiring a top tier graphics card or gaming machine.
Many of the elements which make up Trine 2 offer truly innovative gameplay with a few that are noteworthy for distracting from the overall experience. An entire playthrough of Trine 2 will range from five to six hours at the most with an option for a new game plus mode. However, there is little incentive to solve the same puzzles again in another playthrough. There are hidden paths that offer some hidden items, but none are worth the actual effort required to discover them. The other problem that might plague some players and be rewarding for others is the difficulty of a few platform and puzzle elements in the later levels. None of them seem overly unfair, but do offer considerable more challenge than the rest of the game.
Trine 2 is currently available on PC and Mac for $14.99 and will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade on December 21 and PlayStation Network on December 20.