In the original Trine, three unlikely heroes – a wizard that’s unable to even cast a fire spell, a heavyset knight, and a cunning thief – are forced to team up and take on a host of undead that are assailing their kingdom. This team up is a result of the eponymous artifact that fuses the souls of the protagonists and sets them off on an adventure to put the dead to rest and restore the kingdom to its glory. Through dark forests, mythical caverns, and an eerie castle, the reluctant heroes fight their way past the hordes of skeletons and use their unique abilities to overcome more than a few puzzles before finally righting wrongs.
After being restored to their old selves, the trio goes their separate ways. Trine 2, then, picks up with the three some time later after the once ruined kingdom is restored to its glory and each has been occupied with their own lives. The wizard, Amadeus, has a family now, though he’s still attempting to get that fireball spell down. The knight, Pontius, helps defend the kingdom and its citizens. The thief, Zoya, continues to search for treasure in less than fully legitimate ways. As opposed to the first game, where each of the heroes stumble upon the Trine by accident, the mysterious artifact seeks them out as an odd mix of goblins and giant plants seem to be threatening the kingdom. So our heroes set off once again.
As with the first, the real focus of Trine 2’s gameplay is about using each of the heroes’ different abilities to tackle foes and maneuver through a variety of physics-based puzzles. Since the first game, each hero has seen a few improvements to his or her skill set. Amadeus, in addition to creating boxes and planks, can now pick enemies up using his levitation magic and place them into any sort of nearby peril that may be available. Voya has both fire (and eventually, explosive) arrows and ice arrows to wield, as well as the ability to make herself invisible for a brief period of time, while Pontius now carries a big hammer that’s perfect for smashing walls (and enemies) and can even be flung to hit those out-of-reach places. Perhaps the greatest enhancement all three characters have seen, though, is the elimination of the mana/energy bar from the first game, so you are free to use their abilities to your heart’s content.
That's pretty much the first level right there... Yeah, the game starts off strong in the graphics department
Aside from these gameplay improvements, Trine 2 has also tweaked the graphics and this, more than anything else, is what will undoubtedly stick out. The levels in the first game, while pretty, also tended to be rather dark, and lacked, at times, a very diverse color palette. Not so in the sequel. There were times as I was playing when I had to simply stop whatever I was doing and just stare at the background. From lush, green forests, to beaches with deep, blue lagoons, to frigid ice castles, Trine 2’s scenery could be framed and hung in a modern art museum. Combine those beautiful vistas with an enchanting and playful score, and the game has quite a leg up on many of the full AAA releases we’ve seen this year. Yet with all of these enhancements and additions, how does the game itself hold up?
In brief: extremely well in co-op. From a solo play perspective, Trine 2 is fun and offers some rather interesting mind teasers to overcome, but it also feels lacking. Specifically, it feels like it’s lacking another person with whom to play. It is a problem, though, that is easily remedied as one of the biggest improvements to the game is that online co-op is now fully supported from the get go. What’s more, it supports a combination of local and online so you can play with a mixture of friends, both near and far. It also now offers two co-op modes: campaign and Unlimited. Both take you through the game’s 13 levels, but both do it in a slightly different way.