These days, it seems like there’s been a concerted push by the video game industry towards the fantasy genre. From big names such as Skyrim to indie releases like Orcs Must Die! and Dungeon Defenders, you can hardly turn around without being overwhelmed by options to get your fill of goblin and dragon slaying. But with so many titles to choose from and a limited budget, you may be wondering where to start. To that, I say look no further than Trine 2.
A little history, first and foremost: Two years ago, Frozenbyte Software tried their hand at a fairytale storybook plot in a puzzle game with platforming elements, layering stunning graphics and a brilliantly arranged soundtrack on top of it all. Throw in more than a few word-of-mouth reviews praising it as a return to the design of games from over a decade ago like The Lost Vikings, and they effectively captured my attention. Considering the budget-conscious price, it wasn’t as though I was breaking the bank by taking the plunge.
Several hours later – maybe days, really – I found myself scratching my head, wondering what the hell I had been thinking. The environments were appropriately themed and extremely lush, with such well-designed levels, clever puzzles, and the music was an excellent mood-setter. But even with all of this, the game felt so damn flawed. The plot was thrown together from a fantasy word generator, and the characters were extremely cliched and managed to feel less than two dimensional, which is an impressive feat to achieve in a side scroller. The enemies were also boring and unimaginative: limited to skeletons and skeletal archers, while the combat system’s controls also felt sluggish (and I imagine are also a skeleton). There was also a multiplayer mode, provided you don’t mind a half-assed local co-op system.
And that brings us back to the present. Yes, the characters still feel bland and lacking. And yes, the plot (“Hark! The Trine is back! We must adventure!”) is still as banal as the last time around. However, seemingly everything else has received a laser-like focus in attempt to refine and polish the game, shedding it of the weaknesses present in the original.