Trine 2: Frozenbyte Returns Gamers to its Fanciful World
In 2009 Trine introduced us to a kingdom where Amadeus the wizard, Zoya the thief (ahem. I believe that's entrepreneur), and Pontius the knight were forced to begrudgingly work cooperatively to overcome the effects and secrets of an artifact called the Trine. In Trine 2, the story picks up with Amadeus being transported back to the kingdom where our heroes are coerced to cooperate once again for the good of the Kingdom.
As the pages of the storybook turn, the narration ends, and the first level opens, the player is introduced to the gorgeous - dare I say stunning - world of Trine 2. There are many games that have oversaturated colors, but none are as whimsical or fairytale-esque as Trine 2. The forests, flowers, and creatures are reminiscent of the nighttime scenes in Avatar. This is no slight - despite its thin plot, Avatar had some of the most stunning visuals I've ever seen in a movie.
In addition to being pretty, Trine 2 has solid and enjoyable gameplay. Character abilities will be familiar to anyone who played the first game. Pontius has his trusty sword and shield, Zoya has her bow and grappling hook, and Amadeus can magic all sorts of items - yes, magic is a verb. Frozenbyte removed the wizard's mana pool in this installment and the change has made playing that character infinitely more fun. The player is now free to create and destroy boxes and later planks at will, move and lift objects in the environment, and go on the offensive - tossing enemies into spikes, fire, or water.
Unlimited mana also makes the newest feature of Trine 2 even better. Playing co-op is a joyous affair allowing numerous solutions and paths through levels. Using Amadeus to lift a box with Zoya on top allows access to areas and bonus experience that could not be reached in solo play. This is made easier when playing co-op online, as not all players need to be on the same screen all the time. In the above example, the wizard could magic the box up to an area he could not see, while the thief is free to collect the entire bonus XP for the group.
Unfortunately, in local co-op, this situation is not possible as all of the characters are confined to the same screen. Another challenge with co-op is that it is often difficult to tell the difference between your companions and enemies. Often I found myself hacking away at Amadeus or Zoya long after the battle had ended. Thankfully there is no "friendly fire," so this usually only causes embarrassment and lost time for me and my group - "Jen, what are you doing? Let's GO!"
Experience (in the form of mana bottles) is hidden all over each level; many are readily attainable, some can be gained after leveling the characters and returning later, and a few are only available through co-op play. Each character has a unique skill tree to spend the XP and each point entered into the tree adds important skills to the characters. Amadeus may gain the ability to create extra boxes or planks, Zoya to use stealth or make enemies freeze, or Pontius to use the shield as a platform for other players or throw his hammer.
Happily, though co-op is a major feature in this release, Trine 2 is still perfectly viable while playing solo. I recommend completing each level both ways. Other players may have different ways of solving puzzles, and three characters playing at once offer more solution opportunities.
Trine 2 is a platformer, and as such the basic idea is to move from left to right fighting enemies and solving environmental puzzles. But that description does not do the game any justice. As I may have mentioned, this games looks great. The sound effects are well done and the music is suitably fanciful and non-intrusive. The characters are larger on the screen and easier to control. The game can be played with either a mouse and keyboard or controller. I prefer the precision of the former, but the latter is equally as viable. When playing solo, switching between the three characters happens instantaneously at the press of a button. During my time with Trine 2 I did not encounter any lags in co-op play or glitches of any sort.
Frozenbyte has surpassed the excellent design and quality of Trine with Trine 2. I fully enjoyed every moment spent in game and look forward to playing again. Trine 2 is currently available on PC $14.99 and has my highest recommendation.