Image

If there was ever a game that can truly claim it brought something new to the fantasy genre, it is Trine. It took three fantasy archetypes - a wizard, a knight and a thief - and placed them into a beautiful platformer, using each of the character’s unique skills to offer several ways of completing each level. It was never going to sell to the masses, as indie games rarely do, but it got enough people talking that Frozenbyte recently announced it had not long passed the million sales mark. Trine 2 has seemingly appeared out of nowhere, devoid of fanfare or pomp; a perfect summation of the game itself.

Your adventure begins as the wizard, Amadeus, is fast asleep. A bright light shines through the window and, as you take control of Amadeus, follows you around the room. This simple effect is one of the first things you see in the game and it’s at this point that you will fall in love with its visual style. Trine 2 is an absolutely beautiful game with no exceptions; levels are meticulously put together, and you never stop appreciating the effort that has obviously gone into creating the visual portion of the game.

It’s not just the showy stuff that impresses; I can’t stress the universally astonishing graphics. The colours bounce from the screen, the water shines, characters move uniquely – you never feel like you’re exploring a video game, but a living, breathing world filled with wildlife, beautiful plants and never-ending wonderment. For a developer to create a world like that is impressive enough, but to create gameplay that not only supports but often uses that world within progression is the key to why playing Trine 2 is such a great experience.

If you’ve played the original Trine, its sequel will be instantly accessible. The wizard Amadeus can conjure boxes and move objects using his magic; the knight, Pontius, uses his brute strength to fight enemies and knock through walls; Zoya the thief (entrepreneur, as she readily corrects the narrator) uses a bow and arrow and grappling hook to traverse the environment. Unless you’ve managed to get one of them killed, you can swap characters at any point during gameplay by hitting 1, 2 or 3 on the keyboard. This makes puzzle solving very “on the fly” and there’s usually more than one way to get through any given puzzle.For example, in co-op mode (more on that later), my girlfriend and I came across a giant snail which needed to be enticed away with freshly grown leaves, but the water falling from above didn’t quite hit the shoot desperate for liquid and so it couldn’t grow. After nearly five minutes of testing and experimenting, we came across a method of using the wizard’s magic to hold up a box, causing the water to run towards the shoot, then we’d use the knight’s shield to carry the water the rest of the way.

Had we bothered to look slightly to the left, we’d have found a wooden tube that could have sorted the problem out in mere seconds, but the fact that we persevered and found an alternate method speaks for the game’s physics, which allow you to work in different ways than perhaps the developers intended you to. It doesn’t matter how you manage it, really, the important thing is that you get to the end of each level and continue on with the story – the rest is up to you.

I think this is partly what gives Trine 2 its charm. You never feel pressured to do something, and there are never really moments of any stress. You’re never forced to fight random enemies when you’re exploring, as encounters are kept separate. The music, the design, the exploration and even the voice work - everything comes together to make an incredibly soothing game. It’s the sort of thing you play after a hard day’s work when killing endless online soldiers isn’t enough.

It’s only improved by the presence of a friend, either locally or over the internet. Co-op (I told you we’d get there) adds a new dimension to the game, as solving puzzles is always more fun with other people. The only downsides are that you can’t have instant access to each character, and if you come across somebody with more experience, there’s a chance they will dominate the game. If you’re playing locally, you won’t need to find room for a second keyboard and mouse, as fortunately the 360 controller is fully compatible and even has its own tutorial icons.I recommend you use the mouse and keyboard in single-player if you want the most control over your characters, but using a controller is also a fairly good option. Using my wired 360 controller gives a good indication as to what to expect from the console version of the game, and it’s not entirely awful, but you lose a little of that pinpoint accuracy in the transfer from keyboard. Either way, I don’t think many people playing via their console will be complaining about the control scheme come its PSN/Marketplace release.

One thing they might complain about, as some PC players are, is the story - or, rather, the lack of story. There’s not a lot happening in the game, and nothing that really connects one level to another. What is there is presented very well, with well-written dialogue and excellently portrayed characters, but nothing much in the way of a plot to keep you coming back. It seems as if the story has been tacked on in order to get these characters into certain pre-decided places, instead of the locations being dictated by the plot. This isn’t so big an issue that it will put you off playing, as seeing the world is reward enough.

A bigger issue, perhaps, is that the same small environmental elements keep popping up. There are a barrage of walls to break through, constant jumping exercises, and the fighting can be a little repetitive as well. It’s easy to see why these breaks in exploration occur; it’s a game after all, and can’t rely on pretty graphics and occasional puzzles alone, but knowing this doesn’t make me any more endeared to these sections. Nevertheless, it’s not enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of the game.

Trine 2 is a game that is going to prove once and for all that Trine is a series of which people should take notice, and this time, with releases on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, nobody is going to be left out. Offering a more accessible version of similar platform games like LIMBO or Braid, but with the added advantage of nicer graphics and co-op play, I can think of absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t try this out. Trine 2 is an absolute masterpiece of the senses and Frozenbyte remain a developer to watch.