Replay Value: 8.5
The side-scrolling action/adventure format has long since been replaced by large, photorealistic 3D worlds. But there’s still great fun to be had in the side-scrolling realm, and talented developers can add twists, innovations, and a boatload of creativity to keep even modern-day gamers entertained for hours. Trine 2 is a beautifully drawn, nicely paced, well designed downloadable title that makes us think, plan and react.
First off, this is one of the prettiest, most visually appealing games you’ll ever see, and that bold statement pertains to both the digital and Blu-Ray gaming universes. Rich, lush, colorful environments are the norm, and there’s a lot of gorgeous artistry. The animations are stupendous and throughout your challenging quest, you’ll often stop for the express purpose of drinking in such a fabulous fantasy landscape. It’s not like total CG quality but it’s more than satisfying.
An effective and fitting soundtrack elevates the audio to a place of relative importance in this production. The charming voice performances assist as well, and although a few of the effects sounded muddled to my ears (but only in strange situations when something doesn’t quite work, and the game’s audio gets mildly confused), I was impressed with the overarching quality and style. Like the environments, there’s a distinct and appreciated richness to the audio, on all levels.
If you played the first Trine, you’re familiar with the concept: three adventurers set out on a noble quest; you control each of the three as you progress. Only one of the characters appears on screen at a time (whichever one you’re currently controlling), but switching is easily done with the simple press of a button. There’s a knight, a thief, and a wizard, each of whom has his or her own set of skills and abilities. There are dark, intimidating monsters to face, imaginative puzzles to solve, and other obstacles to overcome.
The knight is best used for combat, as you might expect, as he has access to a sword and shield. He’s also the strongest; he can wield a warhammer to smash objects that get in your way, for instance. The Thief’s handy-dandy grappling hook has returned (as does her bow and arrow), and the wizard can move items and objects with his mind. He can also build wooden crates and planks out of thin air. This is all very similar to what we saw in the original game, and it still works wonderfully.
The premise revolves around these three characters. Each ally has his or her own health meter, and various situations call for different approaches. The wizard is usually the primary go-to guy for puzzle-solving issues but as you progress, you’ll need to the combined abilities of all three characters to succeed. Some of the later levels and puzzles are ingeniously designed, and the developers continue to throw fresh elements into the mix. It’s not just about the basics; there’s stuff like water channeling and portals to keep you on your toes at all times.
Some will say the controls and physics are just a touch off, in that some comical things can happen occasionally. But such occurrences never break the game and can only rarely be considered frustrating. Besides, once you get the hang of how this game operates, everything flows smoothly and you indulge in the artistic accomplishments. Also, don’t forget that the game encourages you to be creative and resourceful; there are often multiple solutions for any given problem. So experiment away!
There are even some great role-playing elements – again, they have returned from the first title – that add depth to the gameplay experience. You can upgrade various aspects of each character’s equipment; this includes upgrading the knight’s shield bash, and the thief can have fire-tipped arrows. The more skills your characters learn, and the more complex the environments become, the more you have to search your brain for the best possible solution. Multiple abilities aren’t only useful for enemies, you know…
Control still feels a little loose and there isn’t all that special, but the focus really should be on the gameplay, anyway. I think a few of the later puzzles are just too obscure, too; I hate having to use the hint system that kicks in after the game has determined you’re a retard. But the addition of local and online multiplayer (the latter is new in this sequel) is a big bonus, and you should convince your friends to play. It’s loads of fun.
Trine 2 is one of those stellar games that falls just shy of elite status due to a few minor eccentricities and drawbacks, but that shouldn’t deter you from giving it a try. It’s absolutely one of the most attractive and rewarding games available on the PSN; it’s pretty, slick, challenging, and even addictive. For those of you seeking the quintessential side-scrolling action puzzler with plenty of great elements and loads of appeal, look no further.
The Good: Beautiful visual presentation. Charming, fitting voices and soundtrack. Excellent design. Combination of action and puzzle mechanics is borderline ingenious. Local and online multiplayer are big pluses.
The Bad: Control isn’t perfect. Some of the later puzzles feel too obscure.
The Ugly: “Way too damn pretty and whimsical for anything even remotely related to ‘ugly.’”