The Lights Fantastic: Trine 2 Preview

By Alec Meer on November 25th, 2011 at 4:51 pm.

 'Every time I see an image from Trine 2 I feel as if the world is a better place.' - Adam Smith, November 2011

FrozenByte’s ethereally-lit follow-up to their Lost Vikings-esque puzzle-platformer has been sitting temptingly on my hard drive for several weeks now, but my Skyrim habit has kept me from until today. I was still feeling a little raw after the freneticism of Serious Sam 3 and an unfortunate chilli-burn incident that temporarily cost me the use of my hands, but Trine 2‘s main menu alone is a balm for the soul if ever there was one. I’ve put a little time into the beta version – not enough for some sort of cast-iron verdict, but enough to go ‘d’awwwwwwwwwww’ and offer a few early observations.

First up, it really is incredibly pretty. Mostly because of the lighting, which is all softly-coloured rays illuminating the chunky, almost plasticine people in a way that makes me think of the covers to early Terry Pratchett books. I don’t get the sense it’s especially high-tech, just that it enjoys particularly loving art direction. In this grimdark age, we don’t see a lot of games that try to make us feel sweet and cheerful, and as such Trine 2’s happy face sticks out a mile. Couple that with casually charming, similarly gentle voice acting for its three playable characters and you’ve got something that’s positively oozing goodwill.

The main menu screen! Oh, how I love it. A wide, beautiful view of Trine’s world, with a completely controllable character waiting on it. Use their abilities, jump around, or switch to another character: a tiny playground encapsulating what the game is, more succinctly than any words or video ever could. (The jolly-fantasy-inn music’s slightly annoying, though).

As before, you’re in control of a Knight (stabby/smashy/shieldy), a wizard (block-conjurery/levitatey) and a rogue (arrowy/batropey/invisibly), switching between the three as and when required in order to navigate around side-scrolling levels, peppered with physics puzzles and occasional enemies. It’s not too prescribed, I was glad to discover – I often managed to fudge together a solution that probably shouldn’t have worked but just about did, such as summoning a crate with the wizard then cackhandedly jumping onto to its uppermost corner as it tumbled down the hill I’d foolishly conjured it on, which just gave me the height needed to reach an overhead platform.
And that sort of thing’s the joy of it – there clearly are square peg/square hole puzzle answers, but the chaotic nature of its full physics system means there are all manner of ad-hoc methods too.

There are intermittent setpiece puzzles aside from the standard navigation, and at least one saw me break out in a big, helplessly goofy smile of the kind that would see my girlfriend refuse to make physical contact with me for at least 48 hours. Giant (giant!) snail drinking happily from a trickle of water running down an overhead log, and as such is blocking the door you need to go through. Won’t spoil the solution, but it’s such a deftly-done puzzle, quietly chaining together a couple of disciplines you’ve picked up in your journey so far and rewarding you with a cheesy but delightful animation when you pull it off.

There’s an upgrade tree for the powers in there, which I’ve only just started to delve into, but it seems to focus on dramatic expansion of abilities rather than minor stat-boosts. For instance, the wizard can eventually summon up to four crates at once, or the knight can lob his hammer across the screen. The perks you pick affect how you go about solving puzzles, again adding to that fixed-but-forgiving feel, like undoing the top button on your trousers to make room for a big meal.

At times, I’ll concede Trine 2 can seem a bit too fiddly, requiring the rapid memorisation of an awful lot of tactics and just what works on what (is that the type of block hammers can smash, or one that has to be levitated? Can I shoot my grappling hook into that bit of ceiling, or is it only the bits that look like wood?), but it’s generous with its checkpoints and the eventual aha! moments are always proud ones when you have ‘em. Of course, it’s really a co-op game, with three players each controlling one character, and I’m expecting oddles of ad-hoc ingenuity there. I’ll be trying to rabble-rouse team RPS for a look at that side of the game next week.

(I must note that Trine 2 also reminds me of a less rigid Fury of the Furries, the first videogame I ever bought with my own money. That’s another reason I find it very hard not to feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I play it)

Trine 2 is due for release at some point next month. You can pre-order now, if you so wish.

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28 Comments »

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  1. Saiko Kila says:

    I believe the archer was called a thief, in before. Anyway, it looks great, and if it will be as much fun as the previous one – I’m sold. Oh, and I know about guys who had (actually still have) problems with Trine 1 on AMD cards, namely low performance. Maybe due to the PhysX thing. Were there any such problems with Trine 2?

    • Gnoupi says:

      I didn’t have such problems with the beta with a radeon mobility 5870

    • Syra says:

      it’s still the thief. They all have names now which are used more than just at the very start too.

  2. rustybroomhandle says:

    Also, last I heard they were planning a day 1 Linux release. For me that’s a day 1 purchase.

    • JoelFB says:

      To be honest the Linux version is now early 2012. I don’t think we ever promised a day 1 release, but if we did I’m very sorry about that – for a while now we’ve always said “a bit later”. We’ll get the Win/Mac releases and the consoles out, and then we’ll try to fix all tech issues and other things that come from launch, and then we’ll work on the Linux port. That should also guarantee that we can focus our Linux time on actual Linux issues, as the game otherwise will hopefully be very stable and bugfree at that point. We’ll have more info (a better idea of the schedule) in January I hope.

      And thanks for the comments everyone. :)

      – Joel, Frozenbyte, developers of Trine 2

    • Pianosaurus says:

      A linux release “a bit later” is still a day one purchase for me, at least. Yay!

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Don’t mind waiting a bit either. Loads else to play in the mean time.

  3. Multikarpo says:

    OFFLINE Co-op? With other people… in the same room? What is this devilry?

    • Gnoupi says:

      Trine 1 only had offline coop, but Trine 2 has online one as well. It was really the main request from players, on the fist game, and they listened.

    • Fumarole says:

      A co-op fist game?

  4. Gnoupi says:

    From what I try of the beta (tutorial + 1 level), it’s really beautiful, and pleasant to play.
    I played it in coop with my lovely girlfriend, t was quite fun.

    Trine is really the kind of game which can be enjoyed solo, but is much better in coop. Because it changes the puzzles almost entirely. When you play alone, you switch to the character best suited to pass the puzzle. When you play coop, you actually have to think how to make everyone cross the place. And in the default mode, that means everyone has a different character, so you can’t just go easily with the grappling hook from the thief, you have to figure out how to make everyone go further. And that’s really fun!

  5. Premium User Badge

    liquidsoap89 says:

    In regards to that snail puzzle. I don’t know why but I had such a hard time with that one. *SPOILERS for those that are interested in the puzzles be up in here!* I ended up stacking I think 3 boxes in a mucked up, barely working staircase, and after fiddling for what had to have been 15 minutes, I finally got the water to trickle down JUST far enough to reach the plant. Just out of curiosity… What was I actually supposed to do there? I know it’s a simple answer, and I’m going to feel like a fool when I see it, but I just can’t find this one.

    • Xocrates says:

      *SPOILERS* There’s a tree trunk you can use to channel the water in the floor to the left.

    • Gnoupi says:

      But what is impressive is that while this was the “normal” solution, it was possible to do otherwise, as proven by liquidsoap :P

      And that kind of thing is happening a lot in this game, from what I have seen so far.

    • Xocrates says:

      Aye, that’s what made the first one so great.

    • Premium User Badge

      liquidsoap89 says:

      You mean the tree trunk that the water initially lands on? Or was I just ridiculously blind and quite possibly missed one sitting on the ground or something.

    • Xocrates says:

      Yes, there is one on the ground. It is fairly easy to miss however.

  6. neolith says:

    Bonus points for the Terry Pratchett headline! :D

  7. Syra says:

    Durr won’t spoil puzzle.

    Will put screenshot of solution under words.

    <3 the beta

  8. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    Who cares about all those posts about improving the graphics of Skyrim with mods when a game like Trine 2 exists?

    Every screen from this game looks unbelievably amazing.

  9. Icyicy9999 says:

    The first game was one of the most memorable experiences in gaming for me, a two day sleepover with 2 friends, pizzas, barbeque and Trine 2 all day every day.

    I cannot wait for the second one, it will be an easy day one purchase for us.

  10. JackDandy says:

    Aw man, I freakin’ loved Fury of the Furries.
    And Trine 1.

    Yeah, I guess it’s time to preorder this thing.

  11. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    My eyes are bleeding from its sheer awesomeness!

    Seriously, kudos to the art direction.

  12. noom says:

    Eeee! Fury of the Furries. Never got that but remember loving a demo of it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      Likewise. Probably just as well I didn’t get the full game though, would probably have frustrated my young self no end by being way too difficult!

  13. Navagon says:

    I’m pretty crap at platformers, but I loved the first one and this one’s looking pretty special too.

  14. Freud says:

    The first one was ok, but I got a bit bored with it towards the end when all mechanics were known and all puzzle solutions had been used over and over again. All that remained was a slow platform game with some easily killed skeletons here and there.

    Very pretty game though. Fantastic design.

  15. cmi says:

    I loved the first one, so I preordered trine 2 on steam and got the “beta” this way.

    To put it simply: bloom has never been so beautiful :)