Frozenbyte's original Trine was a highly entertaining and gorgeous platformer, with equal parts physics based puzzles and action (Seriously, if you haven't played it, go buy it right now. It's that good.). Trine 2 looks to up the ante with a new story, environments, puzzles, action and even more jaw dropping graphics. The best part? It more than delivers.
Trine 2 starts off familiarizing you with each of its three main characters: the wizard, knight and thief. This time around they have a lot more personality and interaction, going so far as to give them names. The same voice actors are used from Trine, which helps keeps continuity and immersion. The introductory levels are also significantly more interesting than the original Trine, and do a great job of giving you the basic mechanics and speciality of each character.
After a brief intro, the titular Trine reunites our heroes once more, allowing you to swap between any of the three at will. As ever no one character is enough, you will have to switch around to take on the various challenges that present themselves to you throughout each level. The Wizard's ever useful levitation and box making are frequently needed, while every bit of wood up high is just inviting you to use the Thief's grappling hook to zip along. Pile of rocks in the way? Lots of monsters jump you? The Knight's strength and sword is your answer.
Looking at the skill tree, each of our heroes has a few new abilities. The Wizard can now levitate monsters, which leads to much hilarity as he flings them around the screen. The Thief has several different arrow types as well as a brand new stealth ability that makes her impossible to detect for 10 seconds. The Knight can also throw his hammer which is awesome for nailing distant enemies or even obstacles. No skills from the first game are changed, just added onto which makes for nice familiarity while adding enough newness to make things interesting. As far as the characters go it would have been nice to see some different costumes or armor, but it's a minor complaint.
If you thought the first Trine was an endless display of eye-candy, Trine 2 almost makes the first game look ugly, which is an impressive feat indeed. The environments are several times as lush and detailed with all sorts of striking colors, hues and details everywhere. Cluttered city streets and rooftops, stunning jungles overrun with vegetation and huge mountains framing the distance, even spooky old temples that crumble with age. The first game was never lacking for variety, but Trine 2 goes even farther with an endless stream of variety and detail and you aren't sure if you want to stay put and gawk at everything or keep going to see what's next.
The environment isn't just there to look at however, clever new puzzles make great use of the natural objects and physics of the world. You might have to levitate a plank of wood under a waterfall to get the water to run onto the ground, to then grow a plant which allows you to access a higher area and move on. Other new mechanics such as gusts of steam, bubbles that you can ride or plant projects that must be deflected with the knights shield are also on display, and combining these new elements with your characters' skills and abilities makes for more satisfying puzzles and progression. The original Trine never really had me stumped at any point, but within the first 2 levels of Trine 2 I was given pause on more than one occasion before I figured out what I had to do to move forward.
The elements of combat remain largely unchanged, but is now even more fun thanks to the aforementioned new character skills. The Wizard who always struggled to defend himself when faced with danger, can now hurl his opponents to their doom. The Thief's early frozen arrow is deadly to foes, and the Knight is quick to slash or smash with his sword and hammer. Expecting skeletons? Nope. The first game's pervasive foe is nowhere to be seen in the beta, but rather goblins will be the cause of your trouble. They are more fun and interesting to fight, in addition to being tougher. They also have a more organic way of showing up, such as running in from the backgrounds or even front of the screen, by clambering over objects to get at you. The goblins also talk, something skeletons cannot do.
Boss fights return, and as with everything else in Trine 2, expect new or interesting twists. When faced with a giant serpent at the end of an old temple, you can't actually shoot or hurt it directly. You have to make it destroy parts of the environment by baiting it with your character while dodging its acid spray until it causes a collapse of columns and rubble onto its own head.
Trine had a three player co-op function, but it was severely limited by not having any actual multiplayer functionality. You had to do it all on your local machine by plugging in console controllers. Trine 2 fixes this inequity by going fully online, allowing you to easily join other adventurers from the comfort of your own keyboard with no annoying controllers required. I was able to quickly join two other players at the start of the game and it was very entertaining to go through each of the early levels as three of the same character. Wizard levitation hijinks, fooling around as the knight on giant bouncy pumpkins, or racing through the city to see who could grapple their way fastest as the Thief was just part of the fun. When you get past the introductory levels each player is assigned a character for that level. The first game made the mistake of allowing you to change characters at anytime which could lead to major griefing, either accidentally or intentionally. This system works much better, and the synergy of the characters is positively delightful to behold and take part of as you work together to take on the puzzles and monsters.
Any fan of the original game will easily get sucked into the wonderful world of Trine once more, and newcomers will be enchanted by the beautiful graphics and enjoy the smooth gameplay and puzzle adventures. Expected to be available in December 2011 with a simultaneous PC & Mac release, that means everyone will be able to soon experience the wonder that is Trine 2. Available for pre-order now at only $15 there's really no reason you shouldn't buy it this instant. Or if not now, then definitely on release because this is one game you do not want to miss.
Jon Carr is an IMG writer who also hosts the MacGameCast and enjoys conducting interviews, previews and writing all the features he can think of. When not reviewing games or scheming world domination, he's probably playing a new game in Bootcamp or keeping up on all the latest game and tech news. He builds websites for a living but spends all the time he can furthering the Mac community.