We’ll admit here at Retro 101 that we hadn’t really been paying much attention to the Trine series until it arrived on the Wii U eshop. As such, this review comes at you from a newcomer to the series point of view. This review also takes into account the recent update which improved graphical performance and added voice chat and pro controller support. As this the director’s cut you also get the expansion pack and an exclusive Wii U level as well.
Trine follows the adventures of a mage, knight and thief bound together by a magical artefact known as the Trine. A 2D puzzle platform game, Trine 2 tries to do something new with a genre more typically found back in the 16-bit era. Indeed, we found our thoughts drifting to The Lost Vikings as we began utilising the three hero’s unique abilities.
The knight is best at fighting and can use his shield to reflect light beams and deflect objects. The thief shoots arrows and can use a grappling hook and the mage can conjure and move objects. Each character can be upgraded by seeking out experience points in the form of magic bubbles. This unlocks further abilities such as exploding arrows, stealth abilities and a number of other things which help fight off the many Goblins and giant spiders you'll encounter along the way.
With the different abilities on offer and different ways to play the developers have given the players multiple options in how to solve the puzzles. Playing single player has one character on screen which can be changed at any time, while multiplayer has all characters on screen at once. This means that certain puzzles would by default need a number of different ways to get through them.
The great thing is that the Trine world and physics are very tactile and effectively sets up a big toy box for you play around with to accomplish your task. Players who prefer the mage will be able to upgrade his abilities to summon large numbers of boxes and ramps to get around. While those using a mixture of the characters will find the need to use a combination of grappling hook swings, magical platforms and brute strength.
You could for instance spend time re-arranging pipes to get the water level right to reach a high ledge. Alternatively you could use an ice arrow to freeze the pool and then stack some mage created boxes on it, while in multiplayer there would be much more opportunity for cooperative lever pulling . The choice is yours. We found this flexible approach refreshing and it meant that progression was always steady as you weren’t left searching for the one way the developer intended you to get through an area.
The first thing that strikes you about the game is just how jaw droopingly gorgeous the whole thing is. The backdrops and landscapes are beyond stunning. We have never seen a 2D game that looks so good. Sunbeams shine through leaves, ice glistens and everything looks as magical and enchanting as seems humanly possible. The attention to detail is staggering and this combined with the physics engine creates a solid and immersive world that you never tire looking at.
The music is also suitably epic with bold fantasy themed tunes subtly underscoring your adventure. Even better news is that Trine 2 has an excellent script and group of voice actors. As the heroes adventure their comments and conversation can’t help to raise a smile. Everything seems to have been done with just the right amount of tongue in cheek humour.
Graphics and sound are all good but don’t mean anything if the game doesn’t play well. For the first hour or so we were a little worried that the controls wouldn’t gel. But after that the gamepad controls feel like second nature. The only slight issue is having the action button just above the character change button. Initially we were swapping characters when we wanted to fight and this did cause a problem. However, you soon get used to it and after the first few levels it never posed an issue again. An option to configure controls would have been useful though.
The Wiimote and Nunchuck and Pro controller can be used but we found the gamepad the best. It’s worth noting that the old Wii classic controller is useless as the button used to change characters is miles away from anything else. You can play it solely on the gamepad as well.
The game itself is very smooth with everything acting as it should and combat working well. The only slight issues is that after years of playing games like Flashback and Prince of Persia we instinctively expect the edge of a platform to be in a certain part of the graphic. Trine 2’s is a little deeper and this left us missing jumps a number of times. Again, once you get used to it there is very little here to complain about, and if you get really stuck you can just head to the Miiverse and post a screenshot in the community area and await help.
This is a good thing as the game is pretty sizeable with the normal quest taking around ten hours and the add-on content pushing that up by another five to eight depending how good you are. Searching out all the hidden chests to get paintings, poems and the maps pieces needed to access the Wii U exclusive area will also take a fair amount of time.
Every level is strong and there was never a time when we found ourselves wanting the game to be over. It’s one of those titles that eats up your free time without you really realising it. When it ends you just wish there was more of it and we can honestly say this is the most pure fun we've had with a video game for years. Everything about Trine 2 just makes us smile and anyone slightly put off by the price tag really shouldn’t worry. The amount of value and enjoyment present here is to be commended and it’s clear the developers really have gone that extra effort to make something that deserves to be held up with the very best in the genre. In fact, we are a little disappointed this hasn't been made a full retail release and the amount of content and quality on show certainly justifies it.
If you haven’t guessed by now we like this game a lot. It takes players on a magical and beautiful adventure while always remaining enjoyable and throwing in some absolutely stunning design. If you own a Wii U this game is as essential as anything else you can buy. This is definitive version of one of the best games to come out in an absolute age. There really is no excuse not to own it.