Not every game has to be a blockbusting 50+ hour epicsaga. Online marketplaces for consoles are teeming with smaller games that don’t demand so much investment of your time, money or headspace. Trine 2 is certainly one of these.
Trine 2 is more Trine. It’s Trinier. The same set up is there: you play as a wizard, rogue or fighter and can switch between them with the press of a button. Or your buddies can join you for co-op and you each play a character. The wizard can levitate stuff and conjure boxes and ramps, the rogue shoots arrows and has a grappling hook and the fighter … fights with sword and has a shield. You side scroll through picturesque levels, solving puzzles and having some combat.
During levels you collect orbs that go towards upgrading the Triners’ skills, such as fire arrows for the rogue, more boxes for the wizard or a frost shield for the warrior. Some of the skills are necessary for solving puzzles, and at any time you can reset and reallocate the skill points you’ve earned.
Combat is rudimentary. The rogue can twang at critters with her bow but the fighter does the heavy lifting. Group encounters often involve being surrounded and the fighter is the only one who can block attacks. Critters’ AI can be pretty dumb though — I’ve seen critters jump into bottomless chasms that lay between me and them and fall to their deaths. I was glad that I wasn’t the only one stuffing up my jumps in the game.
Combat is not the game’s strong point anyway — the puzzles are. The puzzles are a combination of platforming challenge and physics-based object manipulation. Objects can behave oddly at times and there are some exploits to be had (plank surfing!), but generally the physics system works well. I liked the addition of elements such as water, shooty plants and acid. Some puzzles had red herrings, where not every object in reach was necessary to solve the puzzle.
Trine had an infamously teeth-grindingly, screen-endangeringly frustrating end stage. Trine 2 replaces this with a fight that’s almost too easy. As with most boss fights in Trine 2, you can win by attrition– bosses’ health doesn’t reset when all the Trinians die in combat, and when all the Trineteers die, you respawn from the nearest checkpoint orb (like the portals in LittleBigPlanet). So you can spawn the fighter, run over, give a boss a few mashy sword licks before he is smote, let the other two get smote, respawn and do it again. I suppose you could also win by dodging attacks and waiting for breaks in attack patterns to strike back, but who does that in videogames?
For its duration, Trine 2 is adequate. The story serves as the plate on which the game is served and is about as interesting as one. The levels ramp up in difficulty, both of combat and puzzles, in a manageably linear way and there is a genuine feeling of progress when you get past some tricky bits. Because the puzzles must be solvable by either one player acting alone or players in co-op, many of them do not have only one right solution, so it is about finding what works (plank surfing!).
It’s hard to say much more about Trine 2. It would probably be cool to play with your 5 year old kid, if the kid is into age-appropriate games and isn’t raiding on WoW, teabagging noobs or dismembering necromorphs. Trine 2 didn’t get me philosophising about the state of the world but it was a suitable diversion on a sick day.
The best thing about it was that it reminded me of this: