There is something magical about the first time you turn on Trine 2. It comes across like something out of a dream we had back when all games were in 2D. It's an adventure that radiates. Everything from the cascades of colour to the warm personalities makes it hard not to smile while playing.
If you haven't played the first game, there is no need to worry, as Trine 2 builds on the foundation of the first game without putting any real emphasis on story. You can just lean back and enjoy the predictable yet entertaining chats between the three main characters and the elderly narrator.
The three main characters each have widely different abilities and new abilities are added throughout the adventure. Zoya, the female thief, is equipped with a grappling hook and a bow, and she's the most agile of three - able to explore all corners of the levels while taking out enemies from a distance. Pontius is the slightly overweight knight, who uses his trusted sword, shield, hammer and enormous armour to take the fight face-to-face with enemies. Amadeus is a nervous mage, who seems more concerned about his family back home than wizardry and the adventure at hand. His ability to conjure up mechanical boxes and platforms is used to solve puzzles, and there are lots of those.
Much like in the first game all levels are made up of a mixture of combat and puzzles, but this time the emphasis has been put on the latter. There are more puzzles to solve, and the developer has expanded the number of element that you can manipulate. Magical portals work almost like in Portal, and need to be moved around. Tree trunks and overgrown leaves can be given life with a magical wand. The most entertaining part is the pipes that, in the best puzzle tradition, have to be manipulated to transport wind and flames.
Most of the time there are several ways to solve each puzzle, and if you're a bit clever about it most can be solved using the abilities of all characters. If you lack a bit of ingenuity you might get stuck, but thankfully there is a help system to aid you in your hour of need.
Another, more efficient way of solving puzzles is to recruit a couple of friends to help out. Trine 2 supports co-operative play for up to three players, and while the option is there to play with the same character, it's more efficient to use all three characters. The option to play co-operatively online has been added this time, a nice addition even if this is the kind of game that is best played on with everyone sitting in front of one screen.
But before you get into the puzzles and co-operative elements of the game you are sure to enjoy the visual delights Trine 2 offers. There were several times where I just had to stop playing for a few seconds just to really take in all the beautiful details and lighting effects. Everything about the look just radiates adventure and gives you plenty of motivation to see what the next level looks like. As far as the visual design goes Trine 2 is best in class as far as 2D adventures go.
However, I'm not crazy about the decision to favour puzzles over combat, and I felt the balance was better in the first game. What I miss most is the exploration that used to reward curious adventurers with bonus objects that made our life a little easier. There are still secret treasure chests, but this time around they only contain indifferent little rhymes, and that's hardly any reward. The hunt for energy balls that lets you unlock new abilities in the ability tree is the only real reason to explore off the beaten track.
Finnish developers Frozenbyte have created something special with the Trine series, that is sure to resonate with those who long for the less complicated gaming experiences of the 16-bit era. Trine 2 expands on all the qualities that were there in the first game, and adds more creativity and co-operative fun. I would have liked more combat and secrets, but Trine 2 is still a very enjoyable and visually pleasing adventure.
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