Indie games rather unfairly get a pretty bad rap when it comes to graphics. I’m sure you must have heard at least some of the common arguments; pixel art being too hipster, 3D being better than 2D, colours beyond grey and brown being blasphemous and all that junk. Well, if you’re ever in need of something to shut those ill-informed naysayers up real fast, then you better pick up a copy of Trine 2!
It would be no exudation to say that it (or at the very least its PC version) blows just about every one of its colleagues, be they fellow Indis or AAA blockbusters, completely out of the water when it comes to pure unadulterated eye candy. Words can barely describe how utterly gorgeous each and every frame of Trine 2’s deliciously radiant visage truly is.
And good god, it simply never lets up even for a moment! Regardless of whether any given location is the scene for a climactic boss fight that’ll last several minutes or just some incidental landmark you’ll breeze right past, expect every facet to be enveloped with stunningly crisp lighting and more luscious set dressing than your eyes know what to do with. You could almost say it’s resplendent (Ok, time to put the Thesaurus down) to a fault. After a while you may actually begin to get desensitised to this onslaught of radical hues and tints, which can lead to a rather unhealthy reality shock the moment you take even a passing glance at just about any other game in recent memory.
On the gameplay side of things however, Trine 2 is somewhat more grounded in the modern day rather than a vision of the (hopefully) near future. It boils down to the age old axim: your dude is on the far left of a 2D level, but your objective is on the far right of said level. Between the two are dozens of spike pits, larva pools, bladed pendulums and other such cheery environmental hazards waiting to boot your ass all the way to the game over screen. Inconvenient right?
The only way to get your little crusade moving is to utilise the unique abilities of 3 intrepid heroes, Zoya the thief, Pontius the Knight and Amadeus the wizard, who you must continually switch between (à la 90’s classic Lost Vikings) in order to solve a variate of physics based conundrums as well as occasionally beat the living daylights out of nondescript fantasy creatures that stand in your way. For the most part the puzzles are relatively straightforward affairs with multiple solutions for both single and co-operative play that strike a near perfect balance between being difficult enough to provide some measure of challenge, while still not making you want to curse up a storm out of frustration.
That’s not to say the game holds your hand; all it does is give you the tools to do the job, it’s up to YOU to figure out how they actually work. Under normal circumstances the game will never explicitly point out elemental techniques such as skewering Amadeus’s summonable crates onto spiked walls in order to make improvised platforms or how to use the momentum from Zoya’s grappling hook to ascend certain structures; you’re expected to figure that stuff out on your own. Whether such a experimentation heavy learning curve turns out to be gratifying or just annoying is unfortunately going to vary from person to person, but the game does at least provide a dynamic hint system that kicks in if it figures out you’re struggling a little.
Pretty much all of the game’s replay value, and I’d argue much of the actual substance too, comes from hunting down the 1300+ Experience Potions that litter every nook and cranny of each area. Nooks and crannies that often require some pretty creative and/or ludicrous solutions to get within more than a stone’s throw of. My play-though took a healthy 7 or so hours, 2 of which where probably spent collecting roughly ⅔ of the little blighters. It’s hardly an essential part of the experience I guess, but Lord knows the Narrative sure ain’t what’s driving you forward!
If you’re looking for an Indi game to champion as a bastion of eloquent storytelling and rich narrative, then this game is a definite no-no on all accounts. The entity of the game’s heroic tale consists of short bursts of cringe worthily drab exposition that punctuate the beginning and end of each level, backed up by the odd instances of amateurish voice acting somewhere in-between. It’s about as harsh a contrast as you could possibly paint when compared to the games masterful visuals, and seems like a real wasted opportunity that could’ve turned this game from something special to something amazing.
If the preceding paragraphs sounded a little familiar, it’s perhaps because it’s almost the EXACT same description one could give of the original Trine! Sans-significant graphical upgrade, almost nothing about the core experience has really changed at all. They have added a few new puzzle mechanics such as fluid dynamics, pipe rearranging and the now somewhat ubiquitous “portals” all of which are mealy variations on shockingly common puzzle game tropes, and as such will do little to combat the overwhelming sense of déjà vu for returning Trine fans.
But in all, it’s really hard to try and hold Trine 2’s iterative nature against it too much. Its forerunner brought a unique and well received formula to the table, and while Trine 2 doesn’t exactly innovate on that formula, it undoubtedly brings in enough new content to make it more than worth a look whether you’ve seen it all before or not. At the absolute least, the £12 price of entry is more than worth paying just to see one of the most alluring titles of the year, if not in the entirety of gaming to date!