We quite liked Trine here at Default Prime. An indie game from 2009 by a smaller developer that used a simple premise to shake up fantasy RPG tropes, while offering a fun twist on the platform/puzzler genre. The same developer, Frozenbyte, is back with Trine 2 which sets the same characters on a new adventure using a well-refined version of the original game’s gameplay.
The premise of both Trine games is that three adventurers, each representing an RPG archetype, have become trapped in one body by a mysterious artifact called The Trine. The Player can switch between Knight, Mage and Rogue at will and must learn to use their class abilities to get through a series of puzzles, traps and enemies.
The story isn’t very deep; the three heroes are once again brought together by the unfathomable Trine, and then sent on a quest that they must unravel as they go. The history of Trine’s kingdom is expanded a bit, and there is lots of banter between the trio, but the story is still a weakpoint for this series. Players just travel from left to right trusting that the Trine has a noble path.
The characters retain their charms, though. The Knight is a pure-hearted, thick-skulled melee fighter who can smash barriers with his warhammer and use his shield to pass through hazards. The Thief is a slinky archer who also has access to a grapple that lets her quickly scale heights or swing through levels. The cowardly Wizard hasn’t yet mastered the elusive fireball spell, but he does have powerful telekinesis, and can conjure blocks or planks out of thin air.
The heroic trio play mostly the same as they did in the first game, but fans will note a few tweaks to the gameplay and skill trees. Since the last game, the Wizard has gained the ability to move enemies with his telekinesis. It’s still no substitute for that fireball spell, but he can at least toss enemies into environmental hazards (Including fire). While he can’t create free-floating triangles anymore, he’s now free of his mana bar and can use his magic as much as he pleases.
The Knight begins Trine 2 with his mighty hammer, something that had to be earned in the first game. He’s more fun to play this time around because he can be switched from the slow-but-powerful hammer to the Sword & Shield fighting style. He eventually gains the power to throw the hammer too, which alters his role as Meat Shield and lets players take down far-off enemies without having to switch to the Thief.
The Thief now has ice arrows in addition to her fire arrow, and can slow enemies or even freeze them solid (Leaving them easily smashed by the Knight). She also has a proper stealth power for sneaking past enemies in appropriately roguish fashion.
As with the first Trine, almost any section can be cleared with any of the characters. The Knight is of course best suited to clobbering enemies, while the Wizard and Thief each have distinct ways to get through obstacles and traps. Players who like traditional platforming will want to use the Thief to leap and swing through levels, but gamers who enjoy a slower pace will find all sorts of ways to use the Wizard’s conjured objects to aid him in clambering over obstacles and hazards. In general it’s up to the Player’s whims on how to get through any particular section.
Aside from the changes to the characters, the sequel adds in some new ways to play with the physics engine. Trine 1 had plenty of things to experiment with like gravity, fire and rotating platforms, but Trine 2 adds in water and gas.
Certain sequences will require the Player to figure out how to get a trickle of water to flow to a certain spot, and this can require the whole team working together as the Thief might be needed to shoot holes in a sack of water, while the Wizard must telekinetically move tubes into place or the Knight uses his shield to divert the flow like an umbrella. Blowing air can diverted through pipes to push the characters up to high places, and these pipes can also be used to direct flaming gas at enemies.
Another new addition is portals that work just like they do in the Portal series. While very derivative, they definitely add to the physics fun of Trine 2.
Graphics see a tremendous boost in this sequel. The first Trine looked great, but Trine 2 is absolutely gorgeous. The world is magical and a true fairy tale land brought to life. Cutscenes are told through still images drawn to look like illustrations form a storybook, but this can be forgiven since the art is authentically whimsical, and actual gameplay looks so good.
A major problem with the first Trine was that multiplayer was only local. On PC this meant having a bunch of people in the same room to play together. Fortunately the internet was invented last year and now games can be played “Online” through this new-fangled world wide web.
Trine 2’s coop multiplayer is exactly what it should be; instead of the three heroes being bound together in a single body, all three are on screen at once with a different player controlling each one. In the single-player game players can only use one set of powers at a time, but only need to get a single character past a particular obstacle. In multiplayer, the characters’ abilities can be used together, but everyone has to find a way to the next room (Unless they exploit the checkpoint system by committing suicide after the other characters make it through a tough section).
For example, the Wizard can levitate objects while the other characters stand on them, or the Knight can use his shield to hold back goblins while the Thief riddles them with arrows. The Wizard can even levitate foes while the other two pound the helpless critters. It plays like a completely different game in this mode.
The multiplayer is terrific fun, and genuinely encourages cooperation. Players can switch between the different characters with permission of the player currently controlling the other character, so more experienced adventurers can help their less experienced pals through tough sections.
Trine 2 enhances an already great formula without making any mistakes. Very little needed to be tinkered with here and it’s good to see developers who can see what needs to be fixed and what ain’t broke. It is available now for PC, Mac, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
Beautiful 2.5D graphics | Adds online multiplayer to the franchise
Occasional trial and error design | Checkpoints can be exploited in multiplayer
Charles is a proud contributor to Default Prime, as well as the Xbox/ PC Department Lead at Player Affinity, a reviewer for The Indie Game Magazine, and a Special Agent at the U.S. Department of Electronic Entertainment.
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