I was asked recently why I begin my reviews with a recap of my experiences with other games in the series or genre I’ve played. Simply it’s to give you an idea of my bias. I do my best to remain impartial, but I have my favourite genres and game types just like everyone else.
So, my experience with Trine? Unfortunately it fell victim to bundleitis. When I buy an indie bundle, I tend to go through the titles and try them out one by one. The problem is, when you get 5-8 games at once, it can be pretty easy to forget one or four, and that’s what happened. I enjoyed the hour or so I played, but that’s all I remember. So I went into Trine 2 knowing that there were 3 characters that were interchangeable: a thief, a wizard and a warrior.
This remains the same, with each of them having individual skills that are upgradeable by finding orbs throughout the levels. As you’d imagine, some are harder to get to than others. You start off with the wizard able to conjure a single crate out of thin air and manipulate some physics objects, the thief able to shoot arrows and use a grappling hook and the warrior able to smash things and use a shield. As you get more orbs your heros become more useful, with in my opinion the most useful being the wizard able to summon multiple crates.
This is because the game is largely physics puzzles, with some light combat thrown in to mix things up. The floaty jumping and sometimes awkward behaviour of physics objects can make the puzzles more difficult at times, but it also lends itself to multiple paths to solve a problem. That helps prevent the ‘I’ve been stuck here for an hour’ syndrome that can plague some puzzlers, but can also at times be a frustration if you’re trying what seems to be a perfectly apt way to do a puzzle, but because you’re struggling with the physics you keep blaming yourself instead of realizing your solution actually won’t do what you want. Twice I got myself stuck on or behind something that took a couple minutes of wiggling to fix.
All that being said, the game is a visual and auditory treat. You can play the entire game on the Wii U pad if you want, and it still looks fantastic but doesn’t have the same visual impact of the larger screen. I found when I switched from one to the other though, that the Wii U pad was much more vibrant and actually a tad over saturated. Now I have a very neutral monitor I calibrated very carefully that I use as a TV, so this was probably a unique thing to my experience, but I thought I should mention it. It isn’t a game of accurate colour reproduction, it’s a game of light, colour and sound. The backgrounds are lively, the animations are great and the soundtrack ties everything together.
If you played it simply to experience the art, as I ended up doing, then you’ll have a mostly fantastic experience. I occasionally got frustrated at a puzzle that didn’t seem to have a logical way to do it, but that’s honestly what puzzle games are about. I felt like I ‘cheated’ my way through some puzzles with extra crates and some crafty jumping, because it didn’t seem like a real solution. I realize this sounds odd, because I solved the problem, but I’m so trained by games like this to lock into a single solution that I felt I had done it incorrectly by not using all of the world objects that were there. Odd.
The goblin expansion is included in this ‘directors cut’ and it gives a nice change up with some less naturey-colour-explosion type environments and some new goblin machines to take on. The combat isn’t the strongest part of Trine 2, but it does help complete the experience and give the game some freshness that it needs.
Overall it’s a tough game to score, because as a 2d platformer it doesn’t have the accuracy of controls as a Rayman or Mario. In fact it takes awhile to get used to the slightly awkward controls. The combat is also fairly straightforward, but then again it’s more involved than either Rayman or Mario. It also has more interesting puzzles and a visual style that is all it’s own. It has local and online multiplayer, but no voice chat. But ultimately I feel I must look past the small annoyances and frustrations to see the greater whole that is a beautiful puzzling co-op platformer, that really deserves to be played and enjoyed.
Just watch out for falling boxes.
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