Trine 2 from Frozenbyte – An Indie Game Review

Trine 2 from Frozenbyte – An Indie Game Review

Platforms: PC, Mac (Consoles coming soon)

Game Name: Trine 2

Publisher: Atlus

Developer: Frozenbyte

Genre: 2D platformer, puzzle

Release Date: December 7th, 2011 (PC, Mac0 December 20th-21st , 2011 (XBL and PSN)

ESRB Rating: E10

Developer Summary

Trine 2 is a sidescrolling game of action, puzzles and platforming.

You play as one of the Three Heroes who make their way through dangers untold in a fantastical fairytale world.

Physics-based puzzles with fire, water, gravity and magic; Wicked Goblins; Climb the tallest trees and towers in the enchanted forest!

Join your friends in the adventure: Trine 2 has online co-op.

What We Think

Much like its predecessor, Trine 2 is staged in a vibrant, ethereal expanse. It conjures up a gorgeous platforming adventure that is at the same time action-packed and soothing.

Killin' trolls is how he rolls

The Drawing of the Three

The magical Trine appears in order to reunite the three heroes: Amadeus the a worrisome wizard, capable of conjuring clockwork blocks and planks and he can levitate other objects. Pontius is the burly knight with an appetite for adventure and conflict (and meat). Zoya is a nimble thief capable of quick strikes from the shadows and handy with a grappling hook. Each of their unique talents will be necessary to successfully traverse the magical realm, fraught with all manner of peril and save the land from a great evil force.

A Visual Feast

Trine 2’s visuals are even richer than those on offer in the original title. But this could be misconstrued as a simple graphical update – in fact the beauty of the graphical treatment on offer here, is of the ilk that makes one take pause. Sometimes at length. To the point of distraction: Enchanted forests are blanketed in intricate vines, leaves and foliage, all the while basking in the blooms of pockets of magical energy. Dark caves glow eerily from remote light sources, casting dynamic distorted shadows. Oversized creatures blocking the only route forward can be appreciated down to each individual scale on their enormous limbs. The level of detail that has gone into the art design is staggering, and the end results are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Be prepared to spend the first couple of hours simply gawking at the scenery.

The soundtrack is wonderfully orchestrated, rich with long soothing notes and peppered with enough tinkling bells to keep the action of the contained within a perpetual dream state. The music will fade into ambient creaking and sounds of nature, and then suddenly change in tempo to mark the appearance of goblins. The contrast is jarring, but adds urgency to the impending skirmish.

The voice work for the narrator and the characters (both friendly and hostile), are delivered with aplomb and at times with exaggerated emphasis. Though none of the dialog is particularly profound, it all comes together to create the effect of being read a bedtime story beside the light from a warm crackling hearth to live out and play through a classic children’s fable.

Many little intricacies elevate the games visuals into the realm of magic

Player and enemy actions are fluid and organic. Frozenbyte maximizes use of the side-scrolling format in the way it introduces enemies, sometimes from cutscenes that seamlessly spring into action from the foreground,using parallax, depth of field, silhouette and illustrative design techniques brilliantly. Though a few minor hiccups in an animation may occur, the vast majority run without a hitch. (Note that our first playthrough was with the final pre-release beta). Enemies will hack and slash at the player, clamber to higher levels to give chase, react to hits, and perform the always satisfying rag doll collapse when bested.

Take the hilt

The basic controls are balanced and responsive. The player won’t likely overshoot too many jumps as the directional inputs are all really solid. Some of the default actions mapped to controller buttons can be a little confusing, however. For example, accidentally switching to the squishy wizard just in time to take a severe mass-perforating can be frustrating when a powerful swing of a broadsword was the actual intention.

Once the team’s bag of tricks is second nature, most of the puzzles become fairly easy to surpass. The change of visuals and level-specific mechanics (such as magical portals) that come with each new stage keep the puzzles from getting overly stale. Trine 2’s removal of the magic bar is a much welcome change, and fans of the first title will surely enjoy not having to trek back to a checkpoint numerous times to recharge Amadeus’ magic. Furthermore, skills have been adjusted so as to maintain the integrity of the puzzle at hand. In the original Trine, certain character abilities had the ability/tendency to render the actual solving of puzzles obsolete, whereas in the sequel, all of the joy that comes from the design and action is suddenly enhanced by the fact that to solve the path forward, you also have to use your noggin.

Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea

Bring a human shield friend!

While the original Trine only allowed for local co-op, the sequel provides players with the the option to find other players online and up to three people can play at once. Though all puzzles can be bested by single players, Trine 2 is designed to encourage co-operative play. Having all three characters onscreen at once can make solving puzzles far easier, as no on-the-fly switching is required. Add to which, the implementation works and in fact brings out one of the title’s best qualities.

For players preferring a solo campaign, the going may be slower and the challenge greater. All three characters will be available, but only one appears on screen at a time, and can be switched by hitting the appropriate button. Players can collect magical essence and for every fifty that are collected, the level of the party increases. This will also allow for a point to be spent on one of the characters’ skill trees. There are weapon upgrades, stealth abilities, and greater magic prowess. This upgrade system helps to ensure that all areas can be accessed by single players, though the order in which the player decides to purchase upgrades will determine how puzzles will be approached.

Acquire Amadeus' two-object leviation ASAP

Pontius v2.3

Purchasing Amadeus’ dual item levitation ability will allow players to reach areas high above, or across chasms too wide to safely jump. In a sort of loophole of magical rules, Amadeus can abide by the tenet that prevents him from levitating the item he’s standing on, and levitate the item below that item instead. His concentration is finicky at best, and using this method to get around will take a great deal of patience. Move an item too quickly, and everything starts to plummet. It probably isn’t necessary to mention the game’s various spike pits to illustrate why that can make for a less-than-desirable scenario.

More powerful upgrades will require more than one level bonus to purchase, and some of these demand the acquiring of prerequisite abilities. Players eager to unlock all skills for all three players will have to dig in and hunt out the magical essence vials that litter each stage (often in hard-to-reach corners) as collecting the essence dropped from enemies alone will make leveling up much slower.

Fire wheels, portals and magic bubbles. All in a day's work.

Trine 2 be more economical

One of the most frequently expressed complaints about Trine 1 was the price tag. It initially came in at $29.99, and was felt by many to be a little steep for a title that could be completed in five hours, even with the level of beauty offered by the game. Fortunately, Trine 2 comes it at USD $14.99, and for players who simply can’t get enough of the astounding art design and music, there is a collectors’ edition available for $24.99. This set includes a digital art book and the original soundtrack.

Trine 2 princess

Sweet Dreams

Players new to the franchise will no doubt marvel at its presentation. The puzzle and platforming aspects of the game (while not entirely ground-breaking) are easy to pick up, even for newcomers. In many ways, Trine 2 is just a fun puzzle platformer dressed up in a $50,000 ball gown, but for those who bought the original Trine early and loved it, there are many reasons to pick up the second installment. Trine 2 sports online co-op, a lengthier campaign, tightened mechanics and all for half the price of the first title. It certainly doesn’t re-invent its predecessor, and why should it? Trine positively dripped with beauty and whimsy, and the sequel does the same, only with greater refinement and increased player access.

Editor’s Note: Trine 2 received more than a few tips of the hat as a nominee for best indie games of 2011. Because of its polish, multi-platform rollout and association with Atlus, we wanted to ensure that it did qualify, in fact, as an indie rather than a subsidiary or vanity label. We received the following response from Joel Kinnunen at Frozenbyte:

“I define us as an independent game developer; we have full ownership of the company, all creative control, and basically self-fund our projects, although we sign royalty advance deals to balance cash flow.

For what it’s worth, the PC version is 100% self-funded to completion by us (the distribution deals are basically not worth much [as far as budget is concerned]). For the consoles we signed some advances with ATLUS, but that too is not really meaningful in the overall budget.”

Trine 2 can be purchased from the Frozenbyte Website

Get Trine 2 on Steam for USD $14.99

[xrr rating=”4.5/5″]