ESG Review: Trine 2
Back in 2009, Finnish developer Frozenbyte pleasantly surprised the gaming world with their extremely charming platformer Trine, which combined some old-school platformer mechanics with an emphasis on physics. While not aiming to be some epic gaming experience, Trine won fans over with its high level of charm, fantastical setting and music, and the platforming gameplay that harkened back to the gaming yesteryear.
Fast-forward to the end of 2011, and Frozenbyte releases a direct sequel to the game, Trine 2. Riding on the positive word-of-mouth and success of the first entry, does this sequel live up to, and perhaps, surpass its charming successor?
Story: 4.5 out of 5
“Once upon a time, there were three valiant heroes chosen by a magical artifact called The Trine. You may have heard another tale of how they met; let me tell you a story of their latest adventure.
Something mysterious and magical was taking place in the forest…”
So begins the latest journey for the game’s three protagonists: Amadeus the wizard, Zoya the thief, and Pontius the knight. As with the first game, the story here is nothing complicated, and its simplicity and straight-forward nature helps achieve the fairy tale vibe that Trine 2 aims to deliver. In fact, the story found in this sequel is actually much easier to digest that that of its predecessor, as the story found there wasn’t exactly structured in the best of ways, leading to some confusion for a few people who played through the original.
As you progress through the game, you discover that the forest you are traversing has been magically altered by some unknown force, only to discover that two sisters are seemingly a key to the affected forest. On top of that, the forest and the surrounding lands have been taken over by a race of Goblins, who have plundered and ransacked the once-pristine land. Being the righteous people that the protagonists are, they aim to restore the kingdom back to its former glory, discover more about the sisters, and battle against the hordes of Goblins who try to impede their progress.
As stated before, Trine 2 really delivers on the fantastical and fairy tale aspect it aims for, and the over-arching narrative that players encounter while progressing through the game brings you back to the days of when you would hear or read fairy tale stories in your youth. It’s nothing overly complicated or epic in scope, but that was never the intention; Trine 2’s story is meant to play like an interactive fairy tale, and in this regard it delivers beautifully.
Gameplay: 5 out of 5
The original Trine was a blast to play through, as its physics-based puzzle platforming and ability to switch between characters on the fly was a nice breath of fresh air in the gaming world back when it was first released in 2009. Does that freshness still last, even two years later? You bet it does, as Trine 2’s gameplay is just as fun and engaging as its predecessor; what really helps retain the fun factor here is that there really haven’t been too many games released since then that have used this gameplay feature, thus keeping the physics implementation in puzzles fresh to players.
Speaking of the puzzles, they are never too complicated to the point where you will scratch your head; instead, they are logical enough that you will figure out the solution sooner rather than later. Helping in this regard is that there are multiple solutions to each of the game’s puzzles, as each character has his or her own way in dealing with the obstacles in their way, and sometimes even combining the abilities of your three characters will help you achieve your goal.
For those who did not play through the first game, here’s a quick rundown of what each character has in their arsenal, ability-wise:
- Amadeus the wizard – Can conjure boxes and planks to help traverse through obstacles; also able to levitate various objects to use as makeshift platforms, or even to drop on unsuspecting enemies.
- Zoya the thief – The most agile of the bunch, she has the use of a grappling hook to help swing past large gaps and reach otherwise inaccessible areas. Zoya also uses a bow and arrow as a weapon, launching arrows of various functions at her foes.
- Pontius the knight – The brawler, he has the use of a sword and shield to use in combat. He also has the use of a hammer, which while much slower than the sword, dishes out more damage and comes in handy when battling larger enemies.
It goes without saying that you will end up using each character’s various abilities throughout your playthrough, and each character compliments one another nicely. Now, you may find that you play with one character more than others for the majority of the game (personally, I tended to stick with Zoya most of the time, as her grappling hook ability was needed for the game’s various collectibles), though each one is balanced with one another nicely to not feel like one character is limited when compared to another.
There are a few refinements that have been made from the original game, and they tend to streamline the overall experience and make things a tad bit easier than before. People who played the original Trine will notice that the blue energy bar that used to be under your character’s health bar is now gone, meaning that you are able to use your character’s abilities ad infinitum; this mostly helps with the wizard, as you are able to conjure objects at an unlimited rate, which was a limitation set in the first game. Furthermore, each checkpoint that you pass in the game automatically brings everyone to full health, while also reviving any character that was previously killed. In a way, this numbs any sense of danger in the game, although the Trine games were always games that you played at your own pace, and as such danger was never a big feature. Observant gamers will notice that some abilities from the first game have also been removed, such as Zoya’s ability to shoot 3 arrows simultaneously, as well as Pontius’ ability to attack underwater. While these omissions certainly do not break the game by any means, their absence are still interesting to note nonetheless.
Overall, Trine 2 is a blast to play through, and the go-at-your-own-pace style of gameplay is certainly something to appreciate; who needs time limits when you can just have a blast playing however you’d like?
Presentation: 5 out of 5
Before delving into the technical aspects of the game, let’s just give a quick rundown and show what the minimum PC requirements are for the game, and compare that to the rig used for our review, shall we?
My PC’s Specs:
|OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7||OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, Service Pack 1|
|Processor: 2.0 GHz CPU (Dual Core recommended)||Processor: Intel® Core i7 875k @2.93GHz|
|RAM/Disk Space: 1GB RAM and 1.5GB disk space||RAM/Disk Space: 4GB DDR3 RAM and 1TB disk space|
|Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 2400 or NVIDIA GeForce 7600 or better (Shader Model 3.0 needs to be supported)||Video Card: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 460|
*Please note that Trine 2 may not run on most Intel graphics solutions used in 2004-2009. The game does run on new (2010 and newer) Intel HD Graphics 3000 or better.
Outside of anti-aliasing (I had it set to High, which was FXAA + 2xSSAA; higher AA options are rather GPU intensive), I was able to max out every other setting for Trine 2. During my playthrough, I had no issues performance-wise, with the game running at a smooth 60fps for the majority of the game, with slowdown only occurring during the more visually intense cutscenes. Speaking of cutscenes, Trine 2 has quite a few in-game cutscenes this time around, as opposed to the single in-game cutscene from the original Trine, which is certainly nice to see considering the game is downright gorgeous.
Yes, there is no other real way to say it: Trine 2 is an absolutely beautiful game to behold. The screenshots littered in this review most certainly do not do the game’s visuals justice; you have to see this game running in person to see how visually pleasing it is. Trine 2 makes use of very bold and vibrant colors, and the levels you traverse through give you the sensation that you are running through a living, breathing oil painting. Be it a lush forest, a beach at the crack of dawn, or a moonlit town, the game’s visuals will always give you a calm, serene feeling as you’re playing. The game also makes great use of a 2.5D plane, meaning that various objects run and interact to your movements and actions in the foreground and background; a nice visual touch is that enemies come to you from both the foreground and background to attack you. This is a welcome change from the original, where enemies would mostly spawn right in front of you.
Alas, I was not able to try the game out in 3D (the game supports NVIDIA 3D Vision), as I do not have a 3D-capable setup, although I can only imagine that 3D implementation for Trine 2 would be quite a sight to behold. Considering the beautiful implementation of a 2.5D plane, the added depth of field included with 3D must surely be a pleasant sight, although the game itself looks absolutely stunning in its standard form.
This game may not have an uber-realistic visual style, but its art direction alone makes Trine 2 a pure beauty to behold in motion, and you will find yourself saying “wow” on quite a few occasions during your playthrough. I have to say, major kudos to Frozenbyte for proving that you don’t need a multi-million dollar game engine to produce breathtaking visuals.
On the audio side of things, Trine 2 fares just as well as its predecessor; that is to say that sound design is top-notch overall. As with the original game, Sound Designer Ari Pulkkinen delivers a magical score that brings the fairy tale atmosphere of the Trine world to life, ranging from uplifting, playful songs, to more brooding and atmospheric tracks when the need arises. Ari’s beautiful soundtrack immerses the player into the fantasy world, and brings a level of excitement and discovery when traversing the game’s environments. Special mention also has to be made of the game’s narrator, Terry Wilton, who has returned to reprise his role; his excellent and reassuring voice gives players an even better insight into the beautiful world that we are thrown into (or, in the case of those who played the original, are returning to), though his voice has changed somewhat from the original Trine where he had the tone of a Grandfather reading a fairy tale to his grandson or granddaughter; now, the narrator recites his lines like a proper narrator, recounting the history of the events that take place in the game. It goes without saying that Trine 2 delivers an audio and visual experience that are both equally stunning and do everything they can to immerse players in this beautifully realized world.
Longevity: 4 out of 5
As with the original Trine, Trine 2 will offer you a pleasant nine to ten hour trek through the campaign, which hits the sweet spot in length; the game is not short enough for naysayers out there to complain about, and it is not long enough to the point where it overstays its welcome. Upon completing the game, completionists will be inclined to revisit levels to collect all of the hidden blue vials scattered throughout the levels; while there is no ultimate prize for finding them, there is of course a certain level of satisfaction upon doing so. Additionally, there are various treasure chests placed in the game’s various environments that contain paintings and poems; the paintings are mostly concept art of characters and environments, while the poems do serve to give further insight into the storyline of the game. While they are not requirements for completing the game, the poems do give some inner dialogue to characters you meet later on in the game, and help you understand their ultimate motives a little more clearly.
One nice addition to Trine 2 was one that fans had been clamoring for since the original game was released, and that is the implementation of online co-operative play. With the online multiplayer, you can have up to two friends play with you, allowing all three characters to be controlled simultaneously. When played with the right crowd, this can be a truly fun experience, as everyone works in unison to solve the game’s various environmental puzzles and combat enemies; however, if you decide to play with random people, then chances are that communication will be an issue and your playthrough experience will suffer as a result. When it works, it’s a beautiful thing, and I recommend playing this online with friends if that is the avenue that you decide to take. Performance-wise, the online experience played without a hitch, with no noticeable performance hits, outside of a few random stutters from the narrator when loading a new level. There was no lag on my end or the fellow players’ connections whilst playing, although your mileage may vary here depending on your internet speeds.
Overall, Trine 2 will most likely have you coming back to revisit the game’s world to find all of the hidden collectibles scattered throughout the game’s various stages, and the online co-op opens up several new possibilities in how to tackle the puzzles that are thrown your way. You won’t soon tire of Trine 2, and you will definitely have a blast playing through this latest adventure.
The ESG Verdict: 4.6 out of 5
Trine 2 delivers an immersive experience to a fantasy world filled with awe and wonder, with loads of charm strewn throughout, from the colorful cast of characters to the absolutely vivid and beautiful environments that you will encounter. There will come many a moment where you will find yourself standing still to bask in and appreciate the gorgeous visuals; Frozenbyte has essentially created living, breathing art here, and man, it is certainly something to awe over when you see it in motion.
There’s really not much to complain about here, as what is offered here is a solid, tight experience that you will enjoy playing through the entire way; for some, it may harken back to the days of one’s youth when their imagination ran wild, and to others, introduce the world of high fantasy and adventure for the first time. Either way you look at it, it’ll be a great gaming experience that will make you smile when you complete the game. That is perhaps the best part of Trine 2; never at any point does it feel like a chore when you’re playing, and never does the game force you along, instead allowing you the freedom to play at whatever pace you are comfortable with.
I can’t really put it any other way: Trine 2 comes highly recommended, and you owe it to yourself to jump into this beautiful world as soon as possible.