Swap between a clever wizard, a burly warrior and a … clever but-less-magical-than-the-wizard thief in Trine 2, the puzzle platforming sequel to 2009’s Trine.
As in its precursor, the magical artifact the Trine has bound the fates of three adventurers together into one. Which is a clever conceit to explain the role-swapping mechanic that enables the player to instantly switch between the three characters. Again, Amadeus (the wizard), Pontius (the warrior) and Zoya (the “entrepreneur”) must jump, battle and conjure their way across a lushly detailed world to save the kingdom.
The central principle of Trine remains intact in Trine 2. Using the unique abilities of the threesome you must overcome obstacles and enemies. Amadeus is the most versatile but the most vulnerable. His ability to summon blocks and planks as well as levitate and manipulate objects from a distance makes him ideal for arranging the field. Pontius can block incoming attacks and dangers with his shield, crush boulders with a mighty hammer and slice through orcs with his trusty sword. Zoya can fire an array of deadly arrows and launch herself across the screen with a Bionic Commando-esque grappling hook.
As you progress through the game you will collect magical vials from fallen foes or find them among the many hidden alcoves and pathways. You can spend the experience they impart to unlock new abilities for each of your characters. Zoya gains stealth, freezing and explosive arrows, Pontius can hurl his hammer, ignite his sword and charge enemies and Amadeus, most critically, gains the ability to summon multiple objects.
The physics-based navigation and puzzling are simultaneously whimsical and quizzical. Sometimes you are deflecting streams from a waterfall to coax a giant mushroom into sprouting a bouncy elevator for your team. Other times you must snipe goblins as you hop across fragile platforms to the conjured bridge you’ve covered the spiked pit with. There are possible paths to success using each of the characters’ abilities but you will likely find that swapping and combining them is the surest route. Should you fall to your enemies, or more likely to a sharp and pointy demise, Trine 2 is forgiving. Upon reaching the many checkpoints throughout a level your triumvirate is replenished and ready to forge ahead.
Trine 2 is also one of the most beautiful games seen all year. Characters and environment animate fluidly and control accurately, but one should expect that in any platform title. There is a tremendous depth to the world, despite its 2-D axis, and all of it is richly detailed and saturated with color. Trine 2 also brings its coop mode online, with the entire story playable by three players. Trine 2 is an improvement on its predecessor and a potentially perfect package of aesthetics, smooth gameplay and engaging challenges. A+ — Glenn Given