Indie developer Frozenbyte has crafted one of the most beautiful 2D games I have ever seen.
Trine 2's twelve hour quest was likely lengthened by how often I got distracted by that beauty. The level of graphical detail is astounding to see, whether in the forests, swamps, or caverns. Every world I encountered was filled with rich color, vibrant backgrounds, and meticulously-detailed objects from one edge of the screen to the other.
When I wasn’t marveling over Trine 2's graphics, I was learning how to use the three heroes. A direct sequel to the first game, the trio of playable characters, Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief (or "entrepreneur," as she calls herself), return in Trine 2. And once again, they are reunited by the mysterious Trine.
Playing single-player, I controlled one hero at a time, with the ability to tag out to a different hero at any time. Progressing often involved learning when to use each hero’s specific skill. Finicky keyboard controls made that a more difficult task than it needed to be at times. It took a little bit to get my fingers moving just right to swing through stages with Zoya's grappling hook, use Amadeus' magic to craft platforms and bring down nearby ledges, and hack through obstacles with Pontius' sword. Once I learned how to do all this, though, the game rewarded me with its more challenging puzzles.
Trine 2 stepped up by making me think for a solution as much as pull off some control combo. For instance, early on my path was blocked by a giant snail enjoying a shower. After failing to jump over the slimy creature, I figured out that I could use one of Amadeus's powers to create a more appealing spot for mister snail, and lure him into the background, allowing me to proceed. These sort of thoughtful puzzles throughout Trine 2 provide its most satisfying moments.
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There's still plenty of more traditional action. Enemies will pop in from both the background and the foreground at random points in-between the puzzling. This often felt like a disruption to flow of the game, but players are allowed to reduce the number of enemy encounters by adjusting the difficulty level. I saw a noticeable difference between Easy and Medium difficulties and based on my experience would recommend easy as the way to go for anyone that would rather focus on the game's puzzles.
Whatever the difficulty setting, expect to see plenty of large monsters, like fire-breathing snakes and giant spiders, as a number of the game's puzzles involve finding ways to defeat these creatures. Again, brute force is not an option in many cases. There are a few exceptions, such as a stage in which a giant ogre waits at the end with club in-hand. These forced battles are among the more tedious parts of the game. With healing stations only inches away, losing these fights is nearly impossible, leaving them to feel like filler.
While Trine 2 may falter with its enemy encounters, it certainly merits checking out. Intelligent puzzle designs offer plenty of rewarding play and its breathtaking visuals make it a trophy game for anyone that owns a high-spec PC.
Trine 2 is currently available for PC and Mac. A PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade release is coming soon.
[This Trine 2 review is based on the PC version of the game, provided by publisher Atlus.]