Giant Bomb Review

38 Comments

Trine 2 Review

4
  • PC
  • XBGS

Trine 2 might be one of the prettiest games ever made, and it makes some small but important additions to its predecessor's formula, too.

That unique blend of physics-based puzzle-solving is back in full force.

Everything you loved about Frozenbyte's beautiful 2009 puzzle-platformer Trine is present, and in most cases improved, in the new sequel out now for PC, Xbox Live Arcade, and PlayStation Network. With more involved puzzle mechanics and even lusher visuals--which is really saying something, considering that first game was quite a looker itself--Trine 2 feels like a genuine step up from its impressive predecessor. Everything about the game is better in only an incremental way, leading to the occasional feeling of excessive familiarity. But then, Trine was already so good that it's hard to argue with more of the same great game, right?

The side-scrolling puzzle mechanics in Trine 2 are taken directly from the original, meaning everything still hinges on the three-way split between the knight, wizard, and thief characters who are linked together by the mystical soul-binding artifact called the Trine. All three characters handle more or less the same as they did before, and you still have access to a talent tree that provides them pretty much the same abilities, with a few minor additions. The wizard Amadeus again acts as your physics tool, since you can use him to manipulate all sorts of objects in the environment, using the game's robust physics system, and also conjure boxes and planks out of thin air to help you climb about. Zoya, the thief, handles ranged combat with her arrows and is the most nimble character with a grappling hook that gets her swinging from anything made of wood. And the trusty old knight Pontius is mostly here to do the heavy combat lifting with either his sword and shield or a heavier hammer that you can throw around with an optional upgrade.

The occasional boss monster shows up to interrupt your platforming every now and again.

You're up against a race of burly, green-skinned goblins this time around, and though it's occasionally fun to employ that neat omnidirectional control over the knight's shield and the thief's arrows in a fight, it's often faster to just flail at nearby enemies as fast as you can with your sword, since you'll usually kill all of them before they kill you. The story is just barely more substantial here than in the first game, involving a long lost kingdom and a couple of magical princesses, and it mostly serves to propel you through the game's dozen fantastic chapters set in swamps, caves, and an ice fortress level that's probably one of the most visually stunning video game environments ever rendered.

True, you've seen all these abilities--and the general gameplay model that results from switching between the three characters on the fly to use them smartly in concert--before. Where Trine 2 feels like it moves things forward significantly is in the design of the levels, and the new ways you can influence them. Fluid dynamics play a more central role in much of the puzzle design; there are quite a few instances where you need to direct the flow of water onto magical plants to make them grow to gigantic size, and you can get creative to accomplish that goal by balancing troughs to funnel the water, stacking several conjured planks together, or sometimes just standing underneath a waterfall and raising your shield at the right angle. There are a lot of nifty clockwork machines that you can use the wizard to manipulate, and there are simply more elements in the environment, like the gigantic, springy leaves that grow out of those giant plants that you can grab onto and move around to aid in your puzzle-solving. There's a lot of really satisfying stuff in here in that regard, in the ways you can get hands-on with the vast array of manipulable objects to creatively get past obstacles.

There's a fantastic range of environments from one chapter to the next.

The first Trine offered only local cooperative play, and the sequel improves on this with online co-op that lets all three characters mix it up over the Internet. I played through both Trine games by myself and enjoyed them purely as puzzle-focused action games, but even if you do that too, it's worth going back and at least checking out a few levels with friends later on. It really becomes a different game when you get all three characters in there at once, and not just because that opens up some elaborate new ways you can work together. Griefing each other with your respective abilities can be at least as fun as playing the game the right way. The online co-op worked well for me in general; you can quick-match your way into a random open game, or you can browse a nice list of games showing what level and how many characters are in play. I matched into a couple of games where my character inexplicably refused to respond to the controls, but otherwise online play was functional and relatively lag-free. Offline co-op has a minor camera issue where some characters can disappear off the side of the screen occasionally, which gets awkward, but Frozenbyte has said a fix in the works.

Co-op play is certainly well and good, but the deeper you get into the game, the more puzzles you encounter that seem like they were designed specifically with co-op in mind. The wizard can levitate objects while other characters stand on them, but not when he's standing on them himself, and for that reason alone, obstacles that are a 10-second cooperative trifle suddenly become maddening when you're the only one there to put all the pieces together. In other cases you need to do things like pull and hold a lever to keep a door open, and that requires you to move faster than the game otherwise makes you do when you're by yourself. Other times you'll find yourself awkwardly trying to climb up a rickety stack of conjured boxes to get somewhere that wouldn't be so hard to reach if you just had a little help. Nothing in the game is insurmountable in single-player, but it would've been nice if some of the solutions felt a little more elegant when you're playing alone.

On top of the generally improved core gameplay, Trine 2 has some more nice options and refinements around the periphery. Naturally, you can revisit any chapter at will after you've finished the story, bringing in all of your unlocked abilities, and in addition to the ubiquitous experience orbs there are also collectible paintings and poems to find. There are no achievements pertaining to collectibles or level progress, though; the game admirably focuses all 12 of its achievements on unique challenges that push the game mechanics to the extreme, like surfing an air current on one of the wizard's planks for four seconds, or shooting three arrows into the air with the thief and catching them on the knight's shield. Say what you want about achievements in general, but this specific set of them is a great way to help you wring some unusual extra gameplay out of Trine 2. Probably the best new thing in the game is the "unlimited" mode that opens up after you finish the story, which lets you play a version of co-op where each player can use any character at any time, meaning you can have three wizards in there creating enough boxes to completely overrun the screen if you want. That gets as ludicrous as you expect it would.

The game looks so good it's almost painful.

You just can't talk about Trine 2 without mentioning how painfully gorgeous it is. Cue half a dozen superlatives talking about the lavish detail and eye-popping visual effects slathered all over every scene, but seriously, this has to be one of the best-looking games made to date. Just look at some videos of it to see why. The only thing you could say against the game's visual design is that it runs at 11 for the entire game; every single scene is so dense with small details and numerous glowing, over-saturated colored light sources that it would be nice to also see similar technology and artistic sensibilities applied in a more reserved fashion from time to time. Your eyeballs feel like they might get cavities. I'm heaping all this praise mainly on the PC version, which is easily capable of running at 60 frames per second at really high resolution; I played it on my TV at 1080p with a wireless controller, and it was glorious. The Xbox 360 version is much lower-resolution and runs at a frame rate that's steady but appeared to be barely at 30, or maybe a bit below. That candy-coated art style still shines through on the console, though, and if that's your only way to play Trine 2, you won't be disappointed. But play the PC version if you can.

The best thing about Trine 2 is that even with its notable set of improvements, at $15 it's still a good bit cheaper than the first game was at release. With a lower price, must-see visuals, and unique platforming that works well by yourself and better with friends, Trine 2 makes for a nice little bite-size piece of entertainment during this otherwise slow holiday period.

38 Comments
Edited by MikeGosot

For 15$? Wow, i might pick this.

Posted by Tarsier

i like the graphics on this video game

Posted by CoolYetiDance

Had a blast with this together with my friends!

Only problem is that some of time you'll be standing around doing nothing while waiting for the Wizard .....

Posted by Cyrisaurus

Really want to play this just to stare at it.

Posted by Moncole

I liked the first one

Posted by therealminime

I picked this up last week on Steam and am loving it. It is stunningly gorgeous and a blast to play. I never picked up the original though I don't think I need to now that I've got this one. As always, great review.

Posted by krabboss

It's a good looking game, but I don't think I'd call it one of the best looking games ever.

Posted by IAmNotBatman

Nice review Brad!

I'm not that bothered myself though, found the first one kinda boring so I'll probably skip this. Maybe if XBLA or PSN have a sale I wil get it.

Posted by BulletproofMonk

I hated the first one, so I'll probably hate this one too, right?

Posted by Vexxan

Didn't play the original but I'm already sold on this one.

Posted by Cirdain

I have honestly read this whole review and I feel that Brad must have some really goddamn high standards for this to not get a 5. Maybe a 4 from brad is a 5 for me personally.

But it sounds like he loved it though, so we agree on something ;)

Online
Posted by astrodoggy

Great review Brad, one note: "...but Frozenbyte has said a fix in the works." Looking forward to playing this game.

Posted by rcath

Thanks Brad, been waiting for this review.

Posted by TheInsider

The PS3 version runs at 1080p btw

Edited by aceofspudz

@Cirdain said:

I have honestly read this whole review and I feel that Brad must have some really goddamn high standards for this to not get a 5. Maybe a 4 from brad is a 5 for me personally.

But it sounds like he loved it though, so we agree on something ;)

A lot of times people crit Brad for giving out 5s too easily to visually interesting 2d platformers. Maybe he took it to heart and feels like he shouldn't give out so many any more?

Posted by Chet_Rippo

quick look of this was hilarious. Looks awesome, I think I'll try it.

Posted by nerdrage32

@Cirdain said:

I have honestly read this whole review and I feel that Brad must have some really goddamn high standards for this to not get a 5. Maybe a 4 from brad is a 5 for me personally.

But it sounds like he loved it though, so we agree on something ;)

It's not a perfect game but it's still better than some stuff that got a 5 this year. It's a terrific game that I hope doesn't get lost in the shuffle. I can't think of any game off the top of my head that has something more beautiful in it than Chapter 10 of Trine 2

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

Blast!  I was hoping this game would get shit on for the holidays.

Posted by AhmadMetallic

Great review! 
 
It's on my Top 10 list.

Posted by Brendan

@aceofspudz said:

@Cirdain said:

I have honestly read this whole review and I feel that Brad must have some really goddamn high standards for this to not get a 5. Maybe a 4 from brad is a 5 for me personally.

But it sounds like he loved it though, so we agree on something ;)

A lot of times people crit Brad for giving out 5s too easily to visually interesting 2d platformers. Maybe he took it to heart and feels like he shouldn't give out so many any more?

I think that if Brad is a professional adult, he won't be swayed by internet comments calling him out for his editorial abilities.

Edited by bkbroiler

@Cirdain said:

I have honestly read this whole review and I feel that Brad must have some really goddamn high standards for this to not get a 5. Maybe a 4 from brad is a 5 for me personally.

But it sounds like he loved it though, so we agree on something ;)

I feel like, from the review, Brad really loved the game, but it doesn't advance anything beyond the first game besides some minor mechanics and nice visuals. So it gets a 4; still a nice score, but nothing revolutionary or anything.

I think if this had been the first Trine game it would have gotten an easy 5.

Posted by thebazel

I don't understand. Why is this only 4 stars when the review doesn't mention a single flaw. Can you please point out where the star was lost?

Posted by aceofspudz

@Brendan said:

@aceofspudz said:

I think that if Brad is a professional adult, he won't be swayed by internet comments calling him out for his editorial abilities.

That's only assuming they don't have a point, though. Any professional is open to critique.

Maybe it is a 4 star game under the new standard, but maybe the new standard is better and finer than the old one as a result of critique and the evolution of the genre. I'm not saying Brad changed to sate nerdrage, but I would like to think a professional is continually honing their critical eye.

That said. I enjoyed Trine and will be picking up Trine 2 after the Holiday Sale (if it doesn't go on sale during it).

Posted by GnomeonFire

I bought this when it came out and haven't played it yet, I really think I should now.

Posted by Hot_Karl

I finished the Xbox version a few days ago. Gorgeous game, but clearly runs at a lower resolution & framerate than the PC version. Otherwise, fantastic game, if a bit too similar to the last one. I'm glad to get another Trine game, but I wish they changed some of the mechanics here and there. Still definitely one of the best platformers out there, no question.

Edited by CptBedlam

I definitely enjoy this game much more than a few games that got 5 stars this year (for example, Renegade Ops is kinda boring imo).

But, opinions, right? Merry Xmas :)

Posted by Kosikutioner

My problem with the release timing is ALL the cheap stuff I've bought recently. Both Steam and physical for consoles. Also SWTOR. No time!

Posted by buzz_killington

FUCK MY EYES. The screenshots for this game look like the best concept art from other games. FUCK.

Posted by jd18b

Must have.......I hate being poor. I've played a bit of the first one and like it quite a bit. I felt that the graphics in the first one were not nearly as good as in this one.

Edited by MattClassic

@thebazel said:

I don't understand. Why is this only 4 stars when the review doesn't mention a single flaw. Can you please point out where the star was lost?

What? At least one flaw can be inferred (all three classes still play almost identically to the way they did in the first game, with only very minor changes) and two are directly addressed:

The only thing you could say against the game's visual design is that it runs at 11 for the entire game; every single scene is so dense with small details and numerous glowing, over-saturated colored light sources that it would be nice to also see similar technology and artistic sensibilities applied in a more reserved fashion from time to time.

Co-op play is certainly well and good, but the deeper you get into the game, the more puzzles you encounter that seem like they were designed specifically with co-op in mind... it would've been nice if some of the solutions felt a little more elegant when you're playing alone.

The post-processing eye candy goes a bit overboard at times and later levels aren't really single-player friendly. Come on man, it's spelled out right there in plain English.

Posted by Neeshka

gorgeous game. i have a soft corner for heavily rendered 2d graphics. Excellent puzzle platformer; a must-try.

Posted by Blinck

@Neeshka: Almost nothing in this game is 2D. Basically everything you see in this game are 3D models.

Posted by capgrass

Beautiful game this is.

Posted by Sharpless

@Brendan said:

I think that if Brad is a professional adult, he won't be swayed by internet comments calling him out for his editorial abilities.

This. At the end of the day, the only person Brad has to answer to is himself (and, uh, some of his co-workers; but you get what I'm saying.) His opinions don't answer to anyone, and his grading system certainly doesn't answer to any of us. And if you find it so incredulous that he could give Trine five stars, then love the sequel and only give it four, maybe you (I'm using the general "you," in case it's not obvious; I'm not picking on Brendan) should star reviewing games. I'm being serious. Start reviewing and assigning scores to different games. Not on a blog, necessarily; just for yourself. I've done that and, over the years, I've come to understand (to some degree, at least) why a lot of professional critics' scores can seem a little wibbly-wobbly. Times change. Your mind changes. You gain perspective. Shit happens.

Trust the Brad.

Posted by Matty_R

Never tried the first.. but this seems like it might be worth while.

Posted by Masni

Awesome game and Co-Op is great :)

Posted by AGN0SIS

I just picked up the first Trine for my Mac after listening to them talk about it on the Bombcast. It's really an awesome game. Can't wait to pick up the sequel.

Edited by amythompson172

The storybook-style narration is genteel, and the heroes are amiably voiced. The music is rousing, too. Here, as with story and setting, Trine 2 cleaves comfortably to the genre, with all of the cheery piping of a high-class Renaissance fair. If you bypass secrets and ignore experience orbs, you can breeze through a single-player campaign in six hours or so. Although Trine 2 wouldn't outstay its welcome at twice that length, it's no raw deal, given the modest pricing (1200 Microsoft points). This Trine follow-up is a more complete, refined work than its predecessor, and those who didn't catch the original are in for a real treat.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0063CYSCK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=emjay2d-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0063CYSCK