Fighting, platforming, and headaches.. I mean puzzles
Zoya, use your grappling hook to swing onto that far ledge! We're surrounded, Pontius, fend off the hordes of enemies with your flaming sword and ice shield! Another god-awful puzzle that would make MC Escher's head spin, quickly Amadeus break the pacing with your boxes and planks!
Developed by Frozenbyte (only previous titles being the Shadowgrounds series), Trine 2 is a side-scrolling platformer that follows the adventures of three heroes united by what seems to be a floating sentient crystal known as the Trine. It tells them that the world is in danger and they are the only ones who can save it. Not much of the story is given to begin with but the plot unfolds as the heroes progress. Each of these heroes has their own unique skill to offer in this quest; there is Zoya the cunning thief, Pontius the noble knight, and Amadeus the cowardly wizard. The game does a good job at differentiating between the characters. They each have their own personality and abilities that makes each character essential in order to progress through the game.
Zoya is the platforming character, her grappling hook, able to stick to wooden surfaces in the air, allows her to swing from platform to platform with relative ease. She also comes with a bow for ranged attacks, which can be upgraded to have fire, ice, or explosive effects. However, she is not the best character to have out in combat as she dies in two hits.
Fighting should be left to Pontius the knight. Although, fighting is his specialty he is also useful in navigating through dangerous traps due to his shield that reflects projectiles. He comes equipped with a sword, shield, and two handed hammer, all of which can be upgraded through leveling up. When using Pontius, combat is never an issue and it is really almost too easy because of his high attack speed.
So that leaves Amadeus, who, while entirely useless in combat, is the most useful character of all. He has the special ability to draw out a box anywhere on screen. What can you do with the box? Jump on it and push it. It doesn't sound like much, but it is without a doubt the greatest advantage you can possibly have in this game. He can make one box on screen at a time to start with, but can be upgraded to create three, which can break many of the game's puzzles. And you will be more than ready to take any path possible to get through the puzzles given an hour or two of playtime.
I am going to start off by saying that I really enjoyed this game for about the first thirty minutes. The puzzles weren't overly-difficult and the character uses were refreshingly clear, I could not just run through the entire game using only one character. Nearing the 45 minute mark, however, I ran face first into a brick wall. The first of a great many puzzles that had me cursing this game's very existence. I do not consider myself a puzzling genius, I cannot solve a Rubix cube in under a minute while blindfolded, but I am able to play through games like Portal and Q.U.B.E with relative ease. But 45 minutes in, every single time I came up against one of Trine 2's puzzles I would sit there for a minimum of 20 minutes trying to navigate from one side of the screen to another.
For some extra platforming, you can unlock....this
The game's puzzles started off easy, pull a lever to raise a wooden platform for a limited time. Usually it consisted of jumping quickly between platforms to make it in time or using Zoya to swing from the lever to the end platform. Simple, but rewarding. About 30 minutes in, however, the lever puzzles began to grow harder and harder until the end platform would stay up for about one second after using the lever. This was not for just one puzzle, but for nearly every puzzle that used a lever. Simply typing the word 'lever' after playing this game leaves a bitter taste in my mouth now. I hate these puzzles. The levers are useless because of how little time they give you to actually complete the puzzle before the platform or gate falls and the lever resets, there is no way to use a block to jam the platform up, and every time I completed them I felt like I had to cheat in order to actually get by so there was no sense of accomplishment afterwards. And these puzzles come up all the time. Five minutes of gameplay buffered by 30 minutes of a single frustrating screen that has no clear solution even after completing it.
It is for this reason that Amadeus is such a useful character. By using his blocks, you can skip over the majority of the puzzles, usually not even having to use the lever provided. Usually balancing his boxes on top of one another is enough to get Zaya across a gap or trap in order to reach the other side of the screen, but even then it is frustrating. By doing this, there is little puzzle variation left since many of them will have the same cheating solution, but it is far more preferable to cheat through something in 5 minutes that would otherwise be a less-satisfying, 30 minute headache. But this is not supposed to be how a puzzle game should go. A good puzzle game such as Portal or Q.U.B.E provides a series of small challenges that require some depth in thought that ultimately feels rewarding once you manage to solve it how it is meant to be solved. Trine 2's puzzles have none of that. They do not have any pacing in difficulty, they have no clear working solution, and they did not feel satisfying to me whatsoever.
There is a multiplayer aspect of this game where up to three people play at the same time, each playing as one of the three characters. I was unable to try this mode because I do not know anybody who owns the game. So the game's puzzles could be easier in multiplayer, but even if they are it is still bad design for single player.
Remember this guy, he will keep you sane through this nightmare of puzzles
But, to be fair Trine 2 is not without its strong points. The graphics are bright and vivid with detailed landscapes, the foreground looks just as interesting as the background does. Everything looks fantastic with this game, there is great color variation and the contrast works very well. To put it simply, this game looks like a work of art. The music is impressive as well. It fits the atmosphere of your environment and works well with the flow of the game, at least until you get stuck at a puzzle for half an hour. I also enjoyed how each character has their own clear purpose, there is no do-it-all character and there is no bench warmer either.
Coming into this game, I really enjoyed it. Trine 2 looks amazing and the music is good. Characters all have their own clear purpose to advance through gameplay and the story seems interesting. I started off ready to give this game a great review, but I realized I could not do that once I found myself slumped in my chair with a pounding headache commenting to myself about how it would be so much easier to eat my way through a steel girder than to legitimately beat some of the puzzles. There is a multiplayer mode, though I was unable to try it out because none of my friends own the game. It may be that the puzzles are easier with multiple people playing at once, but as for my single player experience, Trine 2 is a beautiful gem that has been sunk to the very bottom of the barrel from the dead weight of its puzzles. If you are set on playing this game, I recommend one of two things. A walkthrough, or a bottle of Ibuprofen.
I must say I love this game, tried the free demo on steam then bought it after 1 hour playing on the free demo. I've played about 11 hours now
EDIT: I finished the whole game in 11 hours... Its not really worth the money for just 11 hours of gameplay, and since I just stood still sometimes and were out or watching facebook that took time to. So I bet this game could be done in about 9 hours.