If the sumptuous visuals of Frozenbyte’s Trine 2 were a meal, it would be the kind of opulent feast you push back from with a satisfied grin, full to bursting. A riot of color and obsessively fine detail, yet never cluttered or hard to visually negotiate, Trine 2 is first and foremost a painterly triumph of artistic game design. Whether the environment is a lush jungle, a moody cavern, or a beach at sunset, the art will never cease to impress.
If you played the original Trine, the set-up is much the same: a trio of heroes (a wizard, a thief, and a fighter) go off in search of adventure, treasure, and to rescue a princess. As a fairy tale, the story is not especially loamy with subtext, but it’s all voiced with such verve and fun that you don’t much disparage its lack of depth. Besides, the iconic figures of story and myth–the hero, the trickster, the helper–are all more or less embodied in the interchangeable characters anyway.
So, off you go into an incredibly rendered world, fighting goblins and various critters,and solving mechanical and environmental puzzles via magic and levitation, brute force, or a bit of deft acrobatics. For me–a person with limited patience for precisely-timed platforming and one-solution-only puzzles–the joy of Trine 2 is that there are usually both elegant and less elegant ways of solving the problems. Sure, you might miss a handful of experience orbs by bashing through a wall instead of finding a path around it, but you’ll keep the heroes moving forward, if that’s your preference. It’s a game that equally rewards creativity, cleverness, or a more pragmatic,”get ‘er done” approach. For those easily stumped, an occasionally obtuse hint system provides a bit of guidance. It’s a platform game for those that hate platformers.
Playing the game entirely alone, switching characters on the fly, is certainly a viable way–though a slower and slightly more frustrating one–of moving through Trine 2′s 6-8 hours of play. Even better fun is exploring the game via local or online coop, where all of the characters’ skills can come simultaneously into the mix.
It’s really hard not to keep squeeing like a tween at a Bieber concert about great it all looks, and a wide selection of resolutions and graphics settings means the visual splendor is available on just about any rig. There’s even a 3D option–which I was sadly unable to experience (note to Jason: are you done with that Sony 3D monitor yet?). The voice acting is playful, amusing, and spot-on and the writing is literate and to the point. Music cues range from heroic to echoes of the ren-faire, but it’s the kind of music that never wearies or grates, no matter how long you’re stuck staring at the puzzle at hand.
If there’s a downside to Trine 2, it might be that the story is weaker (but not weak) than the gameplay, puzzles, and visuals, and that I found some of the keyboard controls to be awkward, like a somewhat contorting three key press to work a lever, for instance. However, while I wasn’t sometimes fond of the layout, I can’t criticize the controls for lack of responsiveness or precision. I look forward to playing through the game again using a controller. PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Trine 2 are on the near horizon, though I imagine that the best visual experience will always be on the PC.
The original Trine was sort of an “indie” triumph, and an affirmation that budget games could be rich, engrossing, and artistically impressive. It’s all the more true of Trine 2, which is even prettier and more entertaining. Even if it was just a stunning video postcard it would be worth the $15, but there’s a really good game hiding there among all those lovely painted flowers as well.
- Release Date: December 7 2011
- Genre: Adventure, Platformer, Puzzle
- Platform: PC
- Developer: Frozenbyte
- Publisher: Atlus
- ESRB Rating: E
- MSRP: $14.99
Our Score: 4.5/5
A copy of Trine 2 was provided by the publisher for review.