Review: Trine 2 (XBLA)

Sections: 2D, Action, Adventure, Consoles, Features, Genres, PS3, Reviews, Xbox-360

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Title: Trine 2

Price: 1200 Microsoft Points ($14.99)

Platforms: XBLA, PSN, PC, Mac OS X, Linux

Release Date: December 21, 2011

Publisher (Developer): Atlus (Frozenbyte)

ESRB Rating: E10+ for Animated Blood and Fantasy Violence

Pros: Gorgeous scenery, some clever puzzles, convincing voice acting, equally important characters, generous checkpoints.

Cons: A bit too much like the previous game, plenty of environmental exploits, uninteresting story.

Overall Score: One thumb up, one thumb sideways, 85, B *** 1/2 stars out of 5

Who could forget the original Trine? Its take on platforming and puzzle solving using a cast of three distinct characters was adored when it was released in 2009. Trine 2 sets out to see if Frozenbyte can recapture the same charm as the original game. The good news is that it does. The bad thing is that it may be all too familiar for some. While the familiarity doesn’t make Trine 2 a game that should be passed over, it does leave you wanting a tad bit more than what was delivered.

Our Story Begins

One of Trine’s best features is the way it tells its story. The narrator for Trine 2 tells the story as if it were a fairytale in a storybook. He pops in at various times throughout the game to remind players of the task at hand, and lets us know what’s coming at the beginning of each chapter. The characters are also impressively voiced.

It may seem strange, but each character’s voice perfectly sums up their personality. The knight’s valor-filled, boisterous tone goes right along with his sword and massive shield. The thief’s sarcasm and jaded attitude is as swift as her movements, and the wizard’s cautious nature highlights his lack of any real combat skills. Familiarity aside, I’d gladly go on another adventure with Trine 2’s trio any time.

Trine 2’s storytelling methods are actually better than the story itself. Trine 2 leads us down a very familiar path. A kingdom is under siege by goblins, and our three characters are the only ones that can fix the situation. The thinness of the plot renders Trine 2’s story ultimately forgettable. It’s clear a lot more effort was put into Trine 2’s visual presentation. Fortunately, Frozebyte nailed that aspect of the game.

One Colorful Kingdom

The animation in Trine 2 is nothing sort of beautiful. Everything in this game from the foliage to the giant spiders are distinctively colored. This was essential for Trine 2 to really pull of that fantasy look. Simply put, Trine 2 is in a world of its own. This is partly due to the sheer scale of the environment in relation to the characters. If you told me the world of Trine 2 was populated by humans that were shrunken down by a higher being, I’d believe you. Nearly everything in this game towers over the characters. There are giant flowers that need to be brought back to life, giant leaves act as platforms and giant bubbles that can be stood on with ease. These pieces aren’t just for show either. Much of the environment is interacted with through puzzles and general platforming.

Trine’s Trinity

Understanding the various challenges Trine 2 throws at players depends on a basic knowledge of the three characters. Interestingly enough, Trine 2 is mostly comprised of three gameplay features that are best taken on with a specific character. Combat should be left up to the knight, puzzles are usually when the wizard comes into play and platforming is the thief’s bread and butter. If you’ve played the first Trine, this should come as no surprise. The wizard’s job is to conjure crates, levitate items and manipulate the basic positioning of interactive objects. The thief can grapple and swing on wooden platforms, and the knight just muscles through anything that’s breakable. There is also an update system that allows you to select new abilities after collecting 50 experience vials. Some of these abilities make taking on puzzles and enemies easier. The wizard for example can create more than one box, and the knight can freeze enemies if his blocks are timed just right.

Playing with Physics

Trine 2 is set up to allow a couple different ways to solve a particular situation, so you’ll rarely become stuck if a particular character dies. Even with the ability to offer alternate solutions, Trine 2 can be exploited very often. For example, at one point there was a jump that I knew required perfect timing to make. Instead of doing what Trine 2 wanted me to do, I found myself grinding along the edge of a platform until I managed to double jump my way up. There was another time when a experience vial was stuck in a narrow passage. I’m sure there was an elegant way to retrieve it, but I decided to conjure a box and finagle the vial out of the passage. Exploiting the physics in this game was a common occurrence that I didn’t always initiate.

There are still plenty of clever puzzles that don’t lend themselves to exploitation. One such puzzle involves a rotating pillar of fire that is blocking a lever. The solution? You have to create a box with the wizard and position it on the pillar’s cogs to prevent it from fully rotating. There’s even a hint of portal (or magic mirror) manipulation that isn’t too hard to figure out, but manages to make you feel nice for using a little brain power.

Happily Ever After

Trine 2 still managed to capture my interests through its charm, 2D platforming and beautiful environments. Even if you never played the first Trine, you’ll have no problem jumping into this game and understanding how to play because a lot is unchanged. Its use of physics is both an advantage and a disadvantage that sometimes feels like a pretty tug-of-war match. I don’t consider these issues to be a deal breaker by any means. Trine 2 is still a fine game for the money.

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