It’s exactly a whole year ago to the day that I reviewed Trine 2: Director’s Cut for the Wii U and found it to be absolutely brilliant. Here we are, 12 months on, at the launch of another major console and Frozenbyte’s exceptional fantasy adventure, like a reliable, dutiful hound, is back in our lives again, wagging its tail and panting for our affection.
Trine 2 is an excellent game, let’s get that out of the way immediately. Nothing has changed to dampen that quality in any way over the past year, and it remains as beautiful and as playable as ever. Nothing else has an art style like Trine 2, and few games reward co-op experimentation quite so well, either.
The story follows Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight and Zoya the Thief, a triumvirate of legendary heroes summoned by the mysterious Trine to eradicate a growing evil leaking its dark influence across the world from deep within the Enchanted Forest. The problem stems from a couple of magical sisters whose sibling feud is causing an imbalance in the Forest, producing enlarged wildlife (giant snakes and cottage-sized snails feature, among other things) and stirring up the resident goblin population.
So the trio of world-weary heroes head off into the Enchanted Forest, each equipped with specific skills and equipment to overcome any obstacle. Pontius is the melee guy, equipped with a hefty sword and a shield you can angle to deflect attacks, and able to switch to a two-handed hammer in order to smash down certain boundaries. Amadeus can levitate objects and (later) enemies, or conjure magical blocks out of thin air and manipulate distant levers; and then there’s Zoya, who can use her bow to deal damage from afar, use her grappling hook to swing from certain outcrops or render herself invisible. The magic of the Trine turns the three into a kind of gestalt entity, allowing you to switch between them with the push of a button.
By combining their abilities, you’ll overcome the majority of puzzles without too much head-scratching, although Trine 2 does occasionally hurl a beastly challenge at you. Puzzles might be as simple as pulling the right lever, or as complex as positioning magical blocks to hold up bridges or reconnecting broken sections of piping using Amadeus’ telekinesis. Lenient check-pointing means you’ll rarely get a Game Over for failing puzzles, even if you’re constantly falling into pits full of spikes. Unfortunately, the same system makes combat far too easy and removes the peril from a lot of the traps you come across.
To counterbalance this, Complete Story adds a Hardcore Mode to the main menu. This mode ramps up the difficulty considerably, removing a good portion of checkpoints and ensuring that a character’s death is far more consequential. Sadly, this leads to problems of its own, mostly because the platforming isn’t great. The characters all have a floaty-ness to their movements that may well add to the fairytale whimsy of it all, but can make jumping between ledges and across moving platforms quite tricky. Less checkpoints mean you’ll often find yourself suffering due to imprecise jumping rather than an actual mistake on your part – but Frozenbyte could probably tweak it forever and still struggle to appease everyone. The very inclusion of a tougher mode for those who complained about the lack of challenge is a solid bonus.
Trine 2: Complete Story also comes with the 6 extra levels of the Goblin Menace, though they’ve now been streamlined into one 19-level game rather than a pair of separate entities. The best thing about this is that your character progression carries over, creating a much more cohesive and considerably longer experience. There’s also an unlockable 20th level in the Dwarven Caverns – if you can meet the criteria, of course.
Anyone who has played Trine 2 in its previous incarnations will know that it’s an absolutely beautiful game. Rich colours combine to present a pallet that’s almost mouth-watering, and the PS4 version is, frankly, gorgeous. Presented in full 1080p and sliding along at 60fps, Trine 2: Complete Story might even be one of the best-looking games in the launch line-up. If you happen to have a 3DTV, you’re in for a genuine treat as the next-gen edition has been designed with this in mind. If you thought the riotous colours popped in the admittedly-lovely Wii U version, just wait until you see Trine 2 in 3D.
Remote Play is enabled, but it requires the use of the Vita’s rear touchpad for certain actions, which is annoyingly inaccessible at the best of times, not to mention when you’re trying to switch between three different characters on the fly. The smaller screen does the highly-detailed environments no favours either; as in the Wii U release, there are just too many colours and too much going on to focus properly on your characters, and it’s easy to lose them in amongst puffs of steam, bursts of colour and explosions of twinkling light that abound.
Still designed for co-op, Trine 2: Complete Story comes alive when you play it with friends. What is initially a quite daunting challenge when played alone becomes a playground when enjoyed with friends, as you experiment with various abilities like Amadeus’ levitation and Pontius’ shield (handy for boost-jumping, don’tcha know?).
VERDICT: Trine 2: Complete Story is still a brilliantly charming game, and the PS4 version is the definitive iteration by some distance, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that Frozenbyte need to move on now and work on number 3 – or something new altogether. More Trine 2 is always welcome, but it’s high time for the developers to take the franchise down a different path instead of simply pushing out a new version of an existing game every year. It’s hardly showing its age, and it’s still great fun and visually captivating, but it’s not doing anything new and it’s not easy to recommend it to those of you who have played the previous versions. It may no longer be essential, but Trine 2: Complete Story is excellent nonetheless.
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.
Review code provided by publisher.