I remember being curious about the original Trine when it released on PS3 back in 2009, at which point I put it on my mental “to do” list, and then promptly forgot about it. I also managed to pass over Trine 2 when it released on PS3 in late 2011; I suppose that I was still a bit busy with a little game called The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I have always wanted to try out the series, however, and Trine 2: Director’s Cut (by Finnish developer Frozenbyte) releasing day one at the Wii U launch finally acted as the impetus to push me over the edge. Was it worth the wait?
Trine 2: Director’s Cut is essentially Trine 2 packaged with some DLC and a few other extras (more on this later.) It continues the story of the three heroes of the “Trine”, a mystical item that connects the three intrinsically and lets them work together as one. Amadeus the wizard can manipulate objects from afar and create objects out of thin air, Pontius the knight has brute strength and defensive capabilities, and Zoya the thief is nimble on her feet, can shoot arrows and has a grappling hook that helps her get to places the others cannot. The Trine as a story element is a pretty convenient MacGuffin, existing mostly to explain the gameplay, which revolves around switching between the three heroes on the fly to work together to navigate the terrain (3D graphics, 2D gameplay), defeat enemies and solve puzzles. You can play Trine 2: Director’s Cut single player, or through local or online co-op.
It’s always more fun to play with friends! Or random, online strangers.
Graphically, Trine 2: Director’s Cut is one of the most stunning games that I have played, and let me remind you that yes, I do own a PS3. I have often seen arguments between those who value raw tech and those who value art style, and although I consider this to be a bit of a false dichotomy, it is rare for me to find a game that really impresses me on both levels. Trine 2: Director’s Cut, however, is one such game. Every area is painstakingly detailed, with a fantasy style that feels like it was ripped straight out of a colorful, classic children’s novel. Wide open fields with running rivers and rainbows in the background, overgrown forests where light slips on through the treetops, dark caves containing fiery infernos; every stage is a new kind of breathtaking. My favorite has to be the beach, where waves are lapping against sandy shores with giant palm trees and a beautiful setting sun in the background. The presentation values go beyond the graphics though, with superb voice-acting (including a narrator that sounds a bit like the esteemed Sir Michael Caine) and an excellent, fantasy style soundtrack to complete the package.
One area where I do have some issues with Trine 2: Director’s Cut are the controls. In many respects, they can be pretty sleek, such as Pontius’ sword and shield combo, or Zoya’s grappling hook. Amadeus’ object creation controls are a bit janky, however, especially if you are using the analog stick to try to draw your boxes, and this can be frustrating in the midst of a puzzle that needs speed and precision. You can use the touch screen on the GamePad to draw boxes instead, which is appreciated, but in local co-op anyone not using the GamePad does not have this option. The main control issue that I have though involves the platforming. There is a small imprecision that exists with the platforming, often making it more difficult than it needs to be, and when you are fighting the platforming controls in the middle of combat or a puzzle (or both), this can lead to sheer frustration. This is where one of the strengths of the game (combining platforming, combat, and puzzle solving into one) can become a weakness as well.
The bones of the past will haunt you forever. Or just sit there looking awesome.
The combat mechanics in Trine 2: Director’s Cut aren’t bad for a game that doesn’t revolve around combat, but it really depends on which character you are using. Pontius is your obvious choice for melee combat, and, as stated above, it feels very rewarding to use dual analog for movement and shield control, while slashing your sword with the press of a button. Zoya can be used to take out enemies from afar, and even in a tight spot, her arrows can fend off many enemies better than you might expect. Amadeus, however, is essentially useless in combat without certain upgrades, and even then, he can’t do much for you without some time and distance, something which you are unlikely to have in the heat of battle. If you’re down to just Amadeus and there are enemies afoot, you may as well just kill yourself off, which seems like a bit of a design flaw to me. Combat can also be complicated by the fact that it often takes place in the midst of platforming sections, taking the frustration of the platforming controls to a whole other level. Furthermore, it can be a bit unclear at times which enemies you can attack and which are part of the background (yet can still attack you.) This mostly only applies to large, boss-like enemies which have to be “solved” like a puzzle instead of directly attacked, but it can still be a tad bit annoying not knowing whether you are attacking the wrong spot or just not able to directly attack this enemy at all.
Although platforming and combat are certainly a large part of Trine 2: Director’s Cut, the meat of the game is really in the puzzles, which are built directly into the environment, such as they are in a Zelda game (as opposed to something like Professor Layton where the puzzles are separate.) Trine 2: Director’s Cut is a fairly linear game, so for the most part, when you have solved a puzzle you move forward to the next challenge. Some of the puzzles involve manipulating levers, placing boxes on switches, and the likes; none of this should be new to most gamers. Other puzzles involve more unique elements, like redirecting water to make plants grow into platforms, connecting pipes together to create air flows that you can float upon, or using Amadeus’ powers to create steps and ramps to assist in your forward progression. The puzzles can be pretty clever at times, and more than once I got stuck scratching my head before I was able to work out a solution. One thing that can be viewed as both a plus and a minus, perhaps, is the fact that several of the puzzles have various possible solutions. Oftentimes my “solution” felt so sloppy that I had doubts as to whether it was something that the developers had considered, or if I had just hacked out something that they hadn’t thought about. This happened more often than I would have preferred. However, taken as a whole, solving the puzzles can be very satisfying, and there is a hint system that you can utilize if you simply can’t figure something out on your own.
How does a knight swim decked out in full armor? Pontius found a way.
Trine 2: Director’s Cut has frequent checkpoints, almost to the point of excess, so if you find yourself running up against a tough spot and continually dying, it won’t set you back very far each time. Furthermore, any progress that you have made since the last checkpoint is saved, so that you won’t have to fight the same enemies, obtain the same orbs, etc. over again when you die. I did run into one minor glitch related to the checkpoints; a small handful of times I would die without fully passing an area, and it would set me at the next checkpoint, essentially forcing me to skip over the part that was troubling me. This only happened maybe two or three times in my entire playthrough, but it is worth mentioning.
There is a pretty robust skill tree system in Trine 2: Director’s Cut, through which each of your three heroes can upgrade and / or obtain new powers, weapons, and attacks. In order to upgrade you must first collect enough glowing orbs, some of which are laying around in plain sight and easy enough to acquire, others of which are tucked away in secrets areas or areas that involve a higher degree of platforming and puzzle solving than the core game contains. This optional way to challenge yourself further is very appreciated. However, there are some points where a non-optional puzzle in the main game appears to require a specific upgrade to continue, and the game never even hints that this will be the case. I got pretty far into Trine 2: Director’s Cut without worrying too much about upgrades, and then ended up stuck at a certain puzzle, scratching my head on what I could possibly do to progress. It turned out that the puzzle required a certain upgrade which I had not yet unlocked (I believe, although as stated above, there are often multiple ways to solve a puzzle.) You can reassign your skill points at any given time so you won’t be left scrambling to collect orbs to unlock any needed upgrade, but it would have been nice if the game were a bit more clear about how this all works from the start.
Cast it into the fire! Destroy it!
If you have played the original Trine 2 (or even if you haven’t) on another platform, you might be wondering what is new in the Director’s Cut. The biggest addition is the inclusion of The Goblin Menace expansion, which was added as paid DLC in the original version of the game. This is a pretty meaty expansion that adds six brand new stages, adding hours of playtime. For the most part I was equally as satisfied with this expansion as I was with the core game, although it seemed to have just a bit more in the way of obscure puzzles and frustrating platforming. On the plus side, the environments in this expansion are amazing, ranging from a desert to a snow-capped mountain to the inside of a large beast and more, and they somehow manage to be even more visually stunning than the environments in the core game, which is no small feat. The Director’s Cut also includes some new touch screen controls (which I didn’t really get into), and an unlockable Dwarven Caverns bonus stage. EDIT: I have been informed by Frozenbyte that the previously mentioned Magic Mayhem multiplayer mode was dropped mid-way into development in favor of the exclusive stage -Andrew
Trine 2: Director’s Cut is a big, bold, and beautiful game that presents itself nicely on almost every level. If you’re looking for something on your brand new Wii U that you can drool over, this is your game. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it being a digital download only makes it any less impressive; it meets and exceeds retail standards. Trine 2: Director’s Cut is also a very ambitious game from a design standpoint, attempting to mix together platforming, combat, and puzzles into a coherent whole, an aspiration in which it mostly succeeds. However, it contains some key flaws that hold it back from reaching the highest heights, ranging from platforming controls that could be tighter to puzzle designs that are, at times, a bit too obtuse. If you can overlook these issues, it’s easy to get lost in the world of Trine 2: Director’s Cut, and you should get a good 8 to 10 hours of play out of it, which more than justifies the price tag (and it is, at the posting of this review, currently on sale!) Just keep in mind that beneath the A+ level presentation there is a B level game that tries to be more, and you will be ok.
I think this pretty much says everything that needs to be said.
Good review! I haven't played 2 (only the first game) but I agree the controls were a little janky, drawing boxes with the analog stick wasn't that easy and the jumping felt a little floaty for my taste. Still a really fun game and I really want to play 2 either on PS3 or when I get a Wii U someday.
A little help (maybe), but a question nonetheless:
You said that Amadeus was a poor combat choice; would it make sense to play as him most of the time, and as you're approaching a group of guys to fight (I don't know how fights are initiated), could you soften them up as they close in and switch to your brawler of choice? When you say that he's pretty much useless in combat, do you mean that he is completely useless in combat? Would my suggestion even work at all?
Also, does everyone generally have the same speed and agility? I'd expect Pontius to be more lumbering than the others, and possibly sluggish, and I know you said Zoya was quite nimble; does that include her standard travel pace?
EDIT- OH, OF COURSE. These screenshots remind me of the Giana Sisters game that I saw here the other day..and those made me think of Little Big Planet (2?); are we reaching a point where developers and game designers will just densely pack EVERYTHING they can into a frame (I know that is what the plan is in the Star Wars prequels -- F you, Rick Berman!), and let fans figure it out on their own? You already said that you were confused on who you could attack, and who was in the background, and watching both the Giana Sisters thing and my cousin play LBP (all 3 depths of it..), my stomach was beginning to turn slightly. Rayman upcoming is like this though, right? Things like that make me miss the simplicity of Super Mario Bros. where you didn't need to be a detective to advance.
I just played the demo a couple of days ago... I may play it again to see if I want to pick it up. It is a very pretty game - I found it jarring sometimes though controlling three characters differently. It's 9.99 till April 30th