Thank you FrozenByte for sending us this game to review!
The Trine is a magical artifact that bound the souls of the wizard Amadeus, the knight Pontius, and the thief Zoya, together in their last adventure together. A few years after the event of Trine, Amadeus is woken up by a bright light. He decides to investigate, and finds the Trine summoning him for adventure once again. He is quickly joined by Pontius and Zoya once again, as the forest is coming to life, goblins are attacking, and the world needs your help to save everyone from impending peril.
For those who have not played Trine, I would encourage you to read my review of that game, here. As in Trine, each character has a unique set of abilities. They all contribute to solving puzzles, finding secrets, and eliminating enemies, each in their own way. You can switch between each of them at any moment, with a simple press of a button. This is all done on a 2D side scrolling play-field, filled with puzzles, enemies, and items galore. To find everything, you'll need all of the characters. For those who like to do things the hard way, there is an achievement to play through a single level without changing characters. It must be quite a challenge; it may be fun to attempt sometime.
Amadeus is the wizard. While he cannot directly injure opponents, he can summon boxes and planks which can be created almost anywhere. He can also levitate many objects in the environment, and, new to this game, he can lift up many enemies now, too. He is the master puzzle solver; many puzzles either require or are just made easier with his skills. His character is also the wisest to the ways of magic.
Zoya is the thief. She is an extremely acrobatic woman, who can grapple to wooden surfaces similarly to Spider-Man. She can swing from ledge to ledge, flying through the air with elegant grace the whole time. She also is a master of bow and arrow, and can shoot it in any direction easily. Quite often, she is needed to get to places that are difficult to reach. As her weapon is upgraded, she can be an effective warrior as well, but for most of the game, she needs to be careful in battle.
Pontius is the knight. He swings a sword and a hammer with a satisfying thud. He is usually the most effective against the many enemies that cross your path. It's not until late in the game that Zoya can easily kill most monsters; before then it's all Pontius. His hammer can break any destructible surface very easily, which is valuable for puzzle solving and finding secrets. Also, his shield can block most environmental hazards, which would kill the other two almost instantly in many cases.
Environmental hazards are much more common and difficult in this game than the previous entry. There is everything from hot air to poisonous vapor to burning acid and hot lava. Not to mention everyone's favorite: deadly spikes. On top of all of this, there are some really challenging puzzles which can test your brain and acrobatic skills. I am very impressed with the quantity and quality of the puzzles. The first game had some great ones; this one has some doozies. Although I didn't need it, the characters can now offer hints after a certain amount of time. That time delay is actually configurable in the options.
Those characters come to life here as well. While I can't say that the story is as engaging as Trine was, because the main characters are well established already, the voice acting, narration, and storytelling are all done very well. On each loading screen in between levels, the narrator explains what is happening, and where they are going now. The characters themselves also say how they feel, in a distinct and lovable way.
All of this is done with voice acting that is simply top notch. All of the actors from Trine reprise their role here, and do an excellent job. It's fun to listen to their banter, especially since there seems to be more of it as well. Since they know each other better, it's fun to listen to some of the exchanges as they sometimes get personal.
The music and sound effects are similarly great. I wouldn't say they are noticeably better than the first game, though there is a bit more enemy variety. Instead of dozens or even hundreds of skeletons to slay, there are goblins of many types. There are also many other new enemies, including crocodile-like creatures. They also removed some of the more annoying flying creatures that the first game had a few too many of, which I definitely didn't miss.
One area where this game really shines is in the incredible graphics. With all of the details maxed out, it is simply breathtaking. While Trine looked great, this really takes it to the next level. It's somewhat hard to imagine how a 2D game in this graphical style can possibly look any better. There are colors everywhere. The lights glitter, rainbows glow, and the forest seethes with color. It's simply amazing. And the environments are varied and equally gorgeous. From the town to the forest to the underground lairs, all is wonderful to look at.
The controls are pretty similar to its predecessor. Keyboard and mouse is still the preferred control scheme, if controlling what is happening with pinpoint accuracy is important to you. One very positive change was made though: drawing boxes is much easier, especially for controller users. Since there are only two different items that Amadeus can create, it makes a whole lot of sense to try to figure out what he is trying to create and choose one, rather than making the player draw a perfect square every time to summon a cube. Drawing two lines of a square is sufficient to tell the game engine you want to summon a box; this is the way it should be.
One thing that really surprised me about the controller mode is how well the game was able to guess what surface I wanted to attach to with Zoya's grapple. While keyboard and mouse is still superior in my opinion, the controller button somehow knew just where I wanted to grapple to next. Now this isn't perfect; there is one place where I wanted to grab the slight edge of a wooden plank, and it worked fine with the mouse, but not the controller. But for 90% of the time, it worked well. Very nice, especially for those who prefer gaming with a controller.
Multiplayer is supported, with both a local and online mode. Online is new to this game, and it's done very well. Under normal or 'Classic' multiplayer mode, each character can only be on screen at one time, so each of the up to three characters can only be used by one person at a time. There is also a new mode, called 'Unlimited', which allows any combination of three players to play together. For example, if you want three Zoyas, you can have them. And local multiplayer can be joined at any time by simply pressing a button on a controller. Multiple keyboard and mice are supported, but significantly more complicated to set up.
Appropriateness issues are fairly light, and certainly in line for a game rated E10+. There is magic in this game. You can summon objects, and levitate items at will. Each character has an attack that seems to be magic enhanced, like Pontius' fire sword, or Zoya's frost bow. The female thief is reasonably covered. She is wearing short shorts, and the garment that covers her chest is like a large red bikini top, except with a much looser fit. But over all of this is a long dress-like garment that flows as you move, so you usually see only one leg at a time. While her curves there are noticeable, the outfit is not skin tight, and not done in an overly sexualized way. There is violence, in the form of killing goblins, spiders, and various other enemies. There is a very small amount of green blood when goblins are attacked. There is no gore. There is one storyline plot which involves jealousy and betrayal.
Most of the characters matured some from the previous game, and as a result most of my minor complaints are no longer here. For example, Amadeus was a wizard who focused more on women than his studies in the first game. Now, he's married with children. I did get a kick out of one comment from Zoya where she pointed out Amadeus acknowledging that a queen was quite beautiful, saying 'is she more beautiful than your wife?'
The game experience was mostly seamless, but I did find one glitch which did require activating 'return to last checkpoint' to get out of. I fell through a strange crack and got stuck.
Trine 2 is an excellent follow-up to the first Trine from 2009. If you take everything that made Trine great, and refine it, Trine 2 is a logical result. It's Trine, only better. Of course Trine is absolutely worth playing – and if you can, I would encourage you to do so before playing this. But if you won't play this otherwise, don't let missing the first one stop you – this is great stuff here. There are elements that aren't as explained as well as the first, like the nature of the Trine itself, and there are a few allusions to the first game in the quips some of the characters make, but this game can definitely stand on its own. And if the very small appropriateness issues don't bother you, I can't encourage you to play this enough. It's a fair value as well, since I expect many players can get 10-15 hours out of the single player game, assuming you try to find everything, and even more out of multiplayer. And it's a joy to play.