Trine 2 – Preview
Your journey begins in the home of Amadeus the Wizard who, while partaking in the ancient Wizard ritual of sleeping, is disturbed by a blinding light. From here on out a series of events occurs and, before long, you soon find yourself reacquainted with the rest of your team: Pontius the Knight and Zoya the Thief. From there, adventure awaits and together you set out to discover what exactly is up with the Trine (a glowing crystal device) and, more importantly, why it keeps appearing.
In typical fashion (and as you’d expect) each character has their own set of abilities that will need to be called upon as you progress through the game, something made rather easy thanks to the simple one-button-press to switch between them as and when you desire. Amadeus for example is particularly apt at conjuring boxes and making inanimate objects levitate which, in the puzzle-rich environment, is more than useful. Zoya, armed with her grappling hook can get places the other heroes cannot, and there is of course her bow which strikes with deadly accuracy. Pontius is your stereotypical knight, a great commander for justice and the common man, but like all good knights he clearly enjoys feasting in his glory if his waistline is any indication.
It’s the subtle touches of humour that the game employs that really help bring Trine 2 to life, from Amadeus and his wife (Margaret) to Pontius and his love of food. The greatest accomplishment is that the humour is never in your face and doesn’t become tiresome and over used. Just every now and then something will be said that’ll cause your face to twitch in a smirk and, most likely, if you’re anything like me, let out a chuckle.
The humour only works so well because of the quality of the voice acting, from the narrator who acts as an interactive storyteller to each of the individual characters. Developer FrozenByte has clearly put a lot of stock into audio as not only is the voice cast of good quality but the music is also exceptionally beautiful, and when it kicks in you can’t help but stand still and simply listen.
It would be somewhat remiss to talk about Trine 2 without mentioning its beautiful graphic palette that, amongst a generation of games which seemingly only wish to operate with grey, brown and the various shades between, is a welcome breath of fresh air. A testament to the quality of the aesthetics is that even in the really dark places – night time for example for example – the world is still just as beautiful. Trine 2′s graphical impact is helped greatly by some exceptional use of lighting and, of course, the by-product: shadows. As you would expect, levels based at night time offer a much more frequent use of lighting, but even in the daylight of a forest, the level of quality is always ever-present.
Gameplay wise, Trine 2 is something of a hybrid between platformer, puzzle and adventure, but the important bit is that it seems to work exceptionally well. The platform portion handles superbly and is everything you could want it to be; it doesn’t really take that particular genre anywhere new, but it does what it needs to more than adequately.
Puzzles play a big part in the game and if there’s one thing I learnt while playing is that you’ll be encountering them at a fairly hefty speed. Predominately physics based, the ones I experienced revolved around the use of gravity (dropping blocks, rolling logs down make shift tracks) and water. It was the water based puzzles, however, that were the cause of my first “woah, that’s excellent” moment – not just for how good it all looked but for that all important ‘cool’ factor.
As you make your way through the game you come across what can only be describe as bubbles, a bit similar to those of LittleBigPlanet – collect enough and you can level up. Levelling up grants you a single skill point, which you can then use to purchase upgrades for any of the three characters, from new abilities to modifying current ones such as giving Pontius’ shield a frost ability that, when touched, causes a melee attack to freezes foes on the spot. In essence, how you play will ultimately define how you spend your points.
Going into the game for the first time I was a bit concerned as to how it would control, especially with a keyboard and mouse, but all fears were immediately put to rest. Playing through the preview with my trusty keyboard and mouse combo was more than adequate, but after noticing the menu prompts matched the colour of a standard Xbox 360 controller I plugged one in and took it for a spin. The end result was a rather pleasant one and if anything I probably enjoyed the game a little more with a controller in hand, as it meant I could sit back, relax and watch the story unfold before my eyes.
The full release of the game does feature co-operative play, both local and online but it was something that was not available during the preview due to the rather annoying technicality of there being nobody to play with. That said, from what I did play on my own it is crystal clear just how well the game will lend itself to the co-op style of gameplay. With each character having their own abilities and unique skills it looks like Trine 2 could be one of those titles where three strangers start playing, but a team finishes – we’ll just have to wait and see.
Ultimately Trine 2 is shaping up very nicely and even from the preview build the amount of polish that has been lavished upon it was clearly evident; should the rest of the game continue in the same manner then I have high hopes for how it’ll turn out. So far it seems to be ticking all the right boxes: graphics, audio and gameplay but perhaps, more importantly, it has its own ‘special feeling’ about it. Trine 2 has a personality. It’s quirky, beautiful and if it had eyes you could bet they would be dark and mysterious, the sort that, when you gaze upon them, simply say “come get some”.
Trine 2 is due to be released December 9th this year, is being developed FrozenByte and will be released on PC, Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.
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