About ten minutes into this side-scrolling platform adventure, it dawned on us that it’s the spiritual successor to Blizzard’s The Lost Vikings. Similarities between the two are striking – both have a trio of heroes with similar skill sets that have to be swapped between to solve puzzles in mystical worlds. Seeing as Blizzard are now under the watch of Activision, we very much doubt we’ll ever see a new Lost Vikings game, even though Trine 2 is currently proving to be incredibly popular on the Wii U eShop.
The trio of heroes are an unlikely bunch, yet there’s still chemistry between them. We’re told that wizard Amadeus isn’t the most powerful of his kind, but he is perhaps the smartest. Then there’s the chubby knight Pontius, who wants to try and save the world, but occasionally puts his stomach first. This leaves us with a female thief named Zoya, who’s quick and nimble. She tags along for the journey seeking riches, bringing an upgradable crossbow and grappling hook to the party.
It’s a mysterious glowing jewel known as the Trine that summons them and then transports the heroes to a fantasy world full of puzzles, traps and boss battles with super-sized creatures.
Visually it’s a treat for the eyes. Textures are sharp and detailed and the colour palette is bold, with pink, purple and other rarely used hues flashing before your eyes. There’s an organic look throughout with the environments often coated in moss and leaves, while rivers and such rage in the backdrops.
Physics also impress, which is good seeing as most of the puzzles are physic based. One early brain bender involves opening a drawbridge and then using one of the wizard’s magically fabricated boxes to jam the mechanism. Another entails redirecting a flow of water with hollow logs to make a plant grow. Later portals appear which essentially turn it into a 2D version of Valve’s Portal. Bosses too require brainpower with some non-confrontational solutions to work out.
The best thing about the puzzles is that there’s often more than one way they can be overcome. More than a few times we found a way around by using the wizard’s magic skills, only to think to ourselves after, “Was that how we were supposed to do that? Well, it worked!”
To add variety, every so often a group of enemies will appear. With the knight under your control combat is a little button-bashy, but you do usually have to swap characters at least once, as some enemies perch themselves high and so the thief’s crossbow has to be used. The wizard can be used in combat too – via levitation he’s able to make boxes fall onto of their heads and also grab and drop them down bottomless pits and such. Armed with a sword that can be upgraded so it’s smothered in flames, the knight is more than proficient in battle, so we found that the wizard was only really used as a last resort – or when the other two characters has snuffed it.
Checkpoints are placed close to one another, and it’s here that health is restored and fallen characters revived. One thoughtful touch is that you can choose the delay for vocal prompts that give clues when you’re flummoxed. It’s because of these helpful hints that it’s doubtful anybody will get stuck in the same place for too long. As such, it flows superbly. New things are always being introduced and there are secrets to find for those willing to go out of their way.
The Director’s Cut part of the title relates to this being the definitive version – as well as intuitive touch screen controls and the chance to play entirely on the GamePad, there’s a brand new level along with the Goblin Menace expansion pack. There’s local and online play too. We had a dabble with playing with two random others and found that when playing with somebody who knows what they’re doing, it’s one of the best co-op games around. Play with somebody who doesn’t even appear to have two brain cells to rub together, however, and it can be quite frustrating as there’s currently no way to communicate with one another. You can ask to swap characters though and voice-chat is coming soon via a patch.
For a launch game Trine 2: Director’s Cut sets the bar high for future eShop releases. So high, in fact, that we can’t even see Nintendo themselves topping it any time soon.