This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Frozenbyte's PC platformer Trine 2, which reviewers describe as "gorgeous, charming, and incredibly fun." Trine 2 currently earns a score of 86 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.
Jane Douglas at GameSpot scores Trine 2 at 8.5 out of 10. "With the wholesome appeal of a fairy tale, Trine 2 is unapologetically packed with comfortable tropes," she begins. "But out of that conventional premise, the game conjures a gorgeous and gratifying platform puzzler."
Douglas praises Trine 2's bump in graphics quality. "Trine 2's environments could have been lifted off the screen of a latter-day Fantasia or from the pages of a particularly lovely storybook," she says. "Gloomier levels house oversized spiders, animated with skin-crawling authenticity. One level, taking in sunset on a tropical beach, is stop-and-stare beautiful."
Trine 2 features the same set of characters from the first game. "Each hero has a simple, distinct set of powers," Douglas explains. "The knight has a sword and shield for fighting, as well as a warhammer for smashing obstacles; the thief has a grappling hook, along with a bow and arrow; and the wizard can levitate items and summon boxes or planks from thin air."
Douglas continues: "The wizard's conjuring powers make him the best suited for solving a puzzle on your own. Though the basic platforming is smooth and accessible, with combat that is brisk and straightforward, the heart of the action is physics-based puzzling. At its simplest, this means constructing a ramp from crates, while more complex challenges have you reroute steam jets by hovering segments of pipe into place."
"If you bypass secrets and ignore experience orbs, you can breeze through a single-player campaign in six hours or so," Douglas estimates. "Although Trine 2 wouldn't outstay its welcome at twice that length, it's no raw deal, given the modest pricing ($15 or £12). This Trine follow-up is a more complete, refined work than its predecessor, and those who didn't catch the original are in for a real treat."
Bit-Gamer's Joe Martin rates Trine 2 at 95 out of 100. "If you haven't played the first Trine then your immediate reaction will probably be a confused expulsion of vowel sounds, followed by some comment about how gorgeous Trine 2 looks," he asserts. "If you have played the first Trine, however, then you'll first expel a high-pitched squeaky noise of the type usually reserved for watching babies eat lemons as you realise that the old trio of characters is back."
Martin continues: "The point is that Trine 2 is one of the prettiest games we've ever seen, even despite the fact that it's ostensibly something as old hat as a physics-based platform game. It's ludicrously beautiful to look at, with detail and wild flourishes of colour lavished into every level, which themselves range from dark forests infested with mutant mushrooms through to airy canopies lit by sunrise."
Multiplayer proves to be the game's defining feature. "It's in multiplayer where Trine 2 really starts to shine, especially with the introduction of online co-operative modes to bolster the original's offline co-op mode," Martin explains.
"Here, up to three characters take a role each and can use their abilities to complement each other -- the Wizard lifting enemies into range of the Thief's bow, for example. It certainly makes most of the puzzles a lot easier too; what might take ten minutes to orchestrate in singleplayer takes mere moments to stumble through in co-op."
"Trine 2 is a fantastic game," Martin praises, "and one which we feel we can easily and flatly recommend to gamers of all tastes and ability levels -- no matter who you are, you can't help but love Trine 2."
Matthew Keast at Games Radar gives Trine 2 an 8 out of 10. "It really says something about how color choice can affect the aesthetic experience," he notes. "Sure the graphics are sharp if you turn everything to the max, but it's the softly glowing royal-purple cave toadstools, the greener-than-emerald giant platform leaves, the so-turquoise-it-hurts-your-eyes underwater scenes that come together to create the most scintillating color palette we've seen in who knows how long."
The gameplay is equally inspired. "One of the wonderful things about the Trine philosophy is that the game encourages you to make up your own solutions to puzzles," Keast writes. "We're quite sure that half the solutions we devised weren't the 'right' answer to an obstacle. We know this because there were puzzles where objects, levers, or portals were present and we didn't even use them."
"At first we were confused by the developer's decision to remove character abilities that were a big part of the first game -- the wizard used to be able to conjure floating platforms and allow the thief to grapple onto them," Keast observes.
"We realized, though, that such a combination made some of Trine 1's puzzles irrelevant and made the game a bit too easy. Without that skeleton key, Trine 2 comes up with some devious situations that will probably make you say 'What the? That's impossible to overcome!' Of course, overcoming these hurdles becomes extremely satisfying."
"Trine 2 should not be ignored, and we hope it doesn't get such treatment, because it's gorgeous, charming, and incredibly fun," Keast concludes. "Trine 2 is like a refined extension of the first game, but so gussied up your eyes will thank you for treating them to some of the most sumptuous visuals they'll ever see. Your brain will thank you, too."