One thing I’ve long regretted about being too poor to afford a PS3 or 360 is not having access to the rich and exciting range of low-priced download only software the HD consoles have enjoyed over the years. It’s not that the Wii hasn’t had an alternative but the games on WiiWare never enticed me in the same way. With the Wii U here I’ve been anxious to catch up with what I’ve been missing and the darling of the Wii U eShop’s early days is this dazzling puzzle platformer from developer Frozenbyte and it’s easy to see why.
Trine 2 follows the adventures of Pontius the knight, Zoya the thief and Amadeus the magician and their continuing adventures to save the kingdom, a journey entwined with the story of two princesses. The game is a sidescroller that takes the heroes through a variety of locations including forests, castles, caves and dungeons where they fight goblins, solve puzzles and gather collectibles. In single player you control one character at a time and can switch between them with the touch of a button whilst in co-op each player controls one character and their different strengths are combines.
Each character has unique abilities. Pontius is the heavy who is best employed dealing with enemy threats using his sword, shield and hammer. Zoya’s grappling hook is your best aid to exploration as you can use it to reach high ledges and swing across wide gaps; she can also shoot enemies with her bow. Amadeus is in charge of puzzle solving and uses his magic to levitate objects or conjure boxes and planks for various purposes. Each character can gain new abilities or upgrade existing ones by collecting magical vials. You’ll have to master all three heroes’ play styles to get the most out of the game.
The gameplay works pretty well and is fun and engaging. At times it recalls classic point-and-click adventures as you face complex obstacles and ponder how to pass and making progress through the lengthy levels feels rewarding. Things can get a bit fiddly at times, though, particularly when trying to control Zoya’s grappling hook or Amadeus’ magic. Conjuring objects is very forgiving as you can be very imprecise without penalty but you’ll often find yourself conjuring things by accident and levitating things the way you want can become a bore. There’s also the nagging regret that the game isn’t designed to make imaginative enough use of fairly realistic physics.
The developers are also guilty of reusing the same tricks time after time. You’ll lose count of the number of times you’re challenged by collapsing wooden platforms and fire-spitting plants and I occasionally found I was able to progress by using Amadeus’ summoned objects in imaginative but very goofy ways that left me convinced I wasn’t doing what the designers had intended. Having multiple solutions to obstacles is no bad thing but I wasn’t convinced this was done intentionally.
Although the level design leaves something to be desired you cannot say the same about the aesthetics. This is one gorgeous-looking game that showcases some stunning rendered environments that bring the locales to vivid life without ever feeling repetitive or empty. The use of lighting for mood and depth of field in a 2D plane is fantastic and you’ll find yourself wishing you could disappear into the background up an enticing staircase or path. It’s also great to listen to with music that evokes classic fairytale and very characterful voice acting.
The main quest consists of thirteen levels and they last a good while with a few bits and bobs for completionists to hunt down. The Director’s Cut also features a handful of Wii U-exclusive levels to get stuck into and the online mode offers yet more longevity. It’s not an enormous game but it doesn’t outstay its welcome either. Overall it’s a very satisfying package with beautiful style and a fun multi-character dynamic that is well worth the purchase.
Design – 6
Gameplay – 7
Graphics – 9
Sound – 8
Content – 7
A 2.5D sidescroller with bags of style and enough substance to keep serious gamers entertained. There are some design and control issues but the hypnotic fantasy setting and forgiving structure make it a breeze.