As a kid building sandcastles on the beach I vividly remember the satisfaction of watching the ocean stream into the moat. Before the wave receded I’d desperately try to trap the remaining water to save the fruits of my creation. Perhaps that’s why after redirecting the flow of pouring water for the first time in Trine 2, I couldn’t suppress a delighted laugh. Trine 2 must not be overlooked because of the excellent presentation at a cheaper-than-dinner cost. While far from a perfect game, fantastic visuals, near tangible physics, and an inherent sense of enchantment culminate to bring the player back to the days when our play was more creative and free.
From the moment the Trine summons the reluctant Wizard you are immersed in a stunning world. By definition the world may be ‘2-D’ but I’ve played in many 3-D environments that lacked the detail, vitality, and interactivity of Trine’s dramatically varied environments. The huge creatures and budding plants of the forests, the mysterious libraries of the castle, and machinery underground never had me wishing I was somewhere else. Water chutes, magical mirrors, and furnace pipes add character to the environments and serve as a playground for us to manipulate.
That manipulation is a core component of puzzle solving within the game. Particularly in the forest levels which often require you to reroute flowing water to a seedling. Not only did I look forward to advancing through the area, the mystery of what form the seedling would take added extra excitement to the puzzles.
The three seamlessly exchangeable characters are a Wizard, Thief, and Knight. Each has unique abilities for both puzzle solving and combat. Though I enjoyed leveling up and unlocking new abilities—by collecting vials throughout the journey—for each of them, I found the wizard to be a bit overpowered in respect to puzzle solving. The solutions to puzzles often disappointed me as I rarely felt I had used the tools and abilities available in a creative way. Most of the time I’d reach a junction with what appeared to be an epic setup only to end up jamming the jump button to get through. Although that’s a simple example I felt I’d cheated the game on multiple occasions. There’s something to be said for allowing players the freedom to solve a puzzle in multiple ways. If none of those options are particularly interesting, however, I’d rather be given one well-crafted solution than a mix of cheap ones.
The platforming can be frustrating at times but the game relied more on environment manipulation than precision jumps anyway. The combat is dull at first but by the end of the game I appreciated the limited life of your heroes and the difficulty of survival without access to each of their abilities. I found myself strategically lining up my enemies so their attacks would find other enemy targets. It’s combat that eschews mindless button mashing for a more thoughtful approach. Incorporating the ice and fire abilities during battle with both the Knight and Thief added a nice visual and tactical touch that’s not apparent at first. Even the combat adds to the game’s visual impact and sense of enchantment.
In a medium where destruction is often the means to success, Trine 2’s continued insistence on working with the environment and advancing through creation is a refreshing change. When that environment is alive and responsive then the task is both refreshing and welcome.