The lights are on
Two years ago, Trine surprised PC and PS3 users with a fresh spin on
platforming and puzzle solving. The unique mechanic of swapping between
characters gave the title a Lost Vikings feel, but with fun
physics-based brain-teasers. If switching between three complementary
protagonists by yourself didn’t suit your fancy, the sequel allows you
and two friends to simultaneously don the wizard’s robes, thief’s cowl,
and knight’s armor. Better yet, the enchanting tale’s next chapter is
also coming to XBLA.
Trine 2 can still be played like the first game, with a single player
controlling the characters one at a time. Players familiarize
themselves with some of the characters’ subtle changes during a brief
introductory tutorial. For instance, the spellcaster Amadeus is no
longer shackled by limited mana, allowing him to draw unlimited boxes
and ladders into life. Sir Pontius can block enemy attacks with his
shield to deliver a swift counterattack, and has his massive battle
hammer available from the start. Zoya, the arrow-wielding, high-flying
thief remains mostly unchanged, but we still love her.
Most of our time with the game was spent with the new three-player
co-op. Having all three characters on screen at once doesn’t change the
structure of the campaign’s levels or puzzles, but it does allow for
dynamic teamwork. Many puzzles have multiple solutions, and having three
minds at work leads to the most creative “eureka” moments. For example,
the wizard can create boxes and levitate allies to unreachable ledges,
or the thief can use her grappling hook to gain higher ground, then
knock down an object the others can use to climb up. The wizard’s power
to manipulate certain objects is far and away the most useful ability.
In one situation he sloshes water down a log with ladle-shaped fauna to
water a cabbage sprout, which then lures a gigantic, hungry snail out of
our heroes’ path.
Atlus emphasized the importance of water as a new puzzle mechanic in
Trine 2. The new physics behind the beautifully rendered fluid will
force players to think about gravity and their environments in different
ways. Water puzzles will be used to open up new pathways to discover
and explore, as evidenced by the roughage-loving snail.
Having three players sharing screen time also comes in handy when
ambushed by a pack of goblins. The knight is still the primary
combatant, but the wizard and thief now have interesting support roles.
The wizard can run interference from afar by drawing boxes to keep
enemies at bay, helping with crowd control and keeping his fragile frame
out of harm’s way. The thief can also whittle away foes’ HP with a few
well-placed arrows. Players also gain experience and unique gear
throughout their journey, but Atlus isn’t saying anything about
The original Trine was a beautiful, atmospheric downloadable game,
and the visual fidelity is carrying over to the sequel. Plants overrun
the world of Trine, and the wild, vibrant foliage is everywhere. Vines
coil and invade almost every piece of scenery, with bright greens,
oranges, and other exotic colors spicing up the game’s palette. The
thriving, immersive atmosphere of Trine 2 will suck in any fan of
fantasy with its living environments.
Our time with this early build of the game left us with a slew of
information, but also some new questions. We now know that three-player
co-op works perfectly in combat and puzzle-solving scenarios, and that
the overgrown world is a visual treat. What we don’t know yet is how the
leveling and equipment system works, what the large-scale boss
encounters entail, or when exactly the game hits this year. We’re
intrigued enough by this 360/PS3/PC downloadable that when the answers
do bloom, we won’t miss them.
release date month?