Trine 2 is another chapter in the lives of our three heroes, Amadeus, the wizard, Zoya, the thief and Pontius, the ever-hungry brave knight. Once again, the Trine summons our trio to save the day as the evil goblin king and his minions overrun the kingdom. The current queen of the kingdom, Rosabel, has lost control of events and asks our heroes to rid the land of this evil. However, a mystery is afoot concerning the kingdom's rightful ruler and as the game progresses, the story of Rosabel and her sister Isabel unfolds, eventually revealing a tale of jealousy and vengeance.
The Trine itself is a magical artifact that can unite our three character's souls into one body. Each has an unique ability, which can be used if that character is active. You can toggle between them at any time as most puzzles and obstacles require a combination of their various abilities. The characters have individual health bars so if one dies, you can switch to another. However, you lose that character's ability until they are revived at a checkpoint. Since most puzzles require all three to overcome, it's hard to progress without the full compliment of skills at your disposal.
In Trine 1, there was some dissatisfaction with the lack of variety of enemies so this game did add more monsters. These are mostly a range of goblin types, with boss fights involving bigger goblins and dragons. There are also some giant spiders and man-eating plants thrown in for good measure. Another complaint was the placement of checkpoints, which respawned you too far back in the game. This has also been revamped with checkpoints that are now close to tricky puzzles and boss fights, which enables you to resurrect dead characters quickly. Some may find things have gone too far in this direction, making the game much easier with very little penalty for dying.
As to the graphics, there is no doubt that the Trine games are visually splendid pieces of work and Trine 2 brings us all the same beautiful and richly textured visuals of the first game. However, if there is such a thing as being too gorgeous, sometimes the characters blend in too much with the lush environments and lose some distinction. This is nitpicking, though.
Puzzles are fairly obvious for the most part, especially to advance in the main story, although some of the experience gathering puzzles can be a bit more difficult to figure out. Amadeus can use magic to grab onto certain objects as well as create boxes and planks to reach upper areas or cross chasms. You can have some fun with this as the physics allow for some fudging and creative solutions. Zoya can strike at objects with her arrows, and grapple onto certain surfaces and Pontius can use combat expertise or his strength where brute force is required. A combination of these elements are necessary to complete each stage of the game. New obstacles to overcome have been added in the form of portals, waterwheels and lava streams.
Collectibles include bubbles, vials and hearts for health and experience points to level up. Skills must progress in order. In other words, even if you have enough skill points, you cannot buy a skill lower on the tree without having purchased the higher one first. You can access the skill tree from "tab" although the menu interface likes to keep this a secret for some reason. There are also poems, paintings and hidden in chests throughout as well as achievements.
There were very few performance issues although I did have an essential piece of pipe clip through the floor once and had to restart the level. I also found Zoya, the thief, a little difficult to manuever with the grapple and the final boss fight was quite tricky.
Trine 2 supports single-player, co-op, local co-op and an online multiplayer mode. Since its initial release, it is now sold as Trine 2 Complete with the expansion, The Goblin Menace, included. However, for those who bought it previously, you can buy the expansion seperately as an upgrade.
Overall, because games like this provide little in the way of story to add interest, they rely on the diversity and challenge of the puzzles and platforming to keep the player motivated. That's a difficult proposition to create something fresh and new in a sequel that uses 2D. However, Trine 2 manages to pull it off and gives us a gaming experience that's very satisfying. Some people would like to see a Trine 3, but I wonder just how far they can go with this franchise to keep it interesting. The developers are making no promises at this time and are working on other projects.UPDATE: In April of 2015, Trine 3 was introduced on Steam as an Early Access game. Frozenbyte explained this move as a wish to get user feedback on their first attempt at introducing 3D gameplay. In Aug, Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power was officially released.