Common wisdom says most of the expense of making any game today goes into the graphics. And it’s true. Your average “Call of Duty” or similar “TripleA” is often short, its environments are small, and it’s not doing much that couldn’t have been done for less money back in the early 2000s.
Of course, a dedicated and creative team can produce a game that looks better than most of the most expensive games of the past few years for a fraction of the cost. “Trine 2” is just such a game.
The game follows the continuing adventures of three heroes — a wizard, knight and thief — as they encounter a mystical artifact called the Trine. What exactly the Trine does is not clear to the adventurers, but it’s clearly the catalyst of their journeys. This time around, something strange seems to be happening with animals and plants growing giant because of some magical water.
The game’s world and story is wonderfully realized at every level. The game is narrated, and the loading screens give it a literal storybook feel.
Each of the characters has a very distinct and entertaining personality, and the voice acting is some of the very best I’ve heard in a game. I couldn’t help grinning as I while listening to the characters babbling on about their predicament, whether it is facing carnivorous plants or a fearsome dragon.
“Trine 2” is a side-scrolling platform game, and controls fairly typically in this regard. You can run left and right and jump with all three characters smoothly and responsively.
The twist is that you switch between all three characters, each with their own abilities. The knight can protect himself with a shield, fight monsters with his sword and break things with his hammer. The thief can fire arrows and shoot a grappling hook at some surfaces and swing around on it, allowing her a wider range of moment than the other two characters.
The wizard probably gets the most use, though, because he can summon boxes and planks and magically move around some of the objects you encounter.
Because it is a puzzle game, each screen is a riddle you need to solve by using the various talents of the heroes in combination. It may be as simple as having the wizard summon a box to stand on to reach an out of the way platform.
But the game gets trickier as it goes along. While most of the puzzles encountered aren’t the hardest you’ll face in the gaming arena, getting all the various spheres that allow you to enhance the adventurers’ abilities is considerably trickier. There’s some fighting in it as well, and it works fine but seems oddly out of place except for the occasional tumble with a more unique enemy.
I should also mention that there’s almost always a few ways to get through a room — including ones the developer didn’t think of — due to things you can pull off with clever use of wizard powers, something I enjoy quite a bit.
As I mentioned, this game doesn’t just look good; it’s gorgeous. I’m talking one of the most-lush-and-colorful-games-I’ve-ever-played gorgeous. Everything is animated with gusto and personality. Goblins charge at you with bumbling menace. Magical sparks fly around you, well, magically. And somehow, it’s all still very easy to understand what’s happening on screen. The game is awash with bright but never garish colors that make it feel warm and fun.
Overall, “Trine 2” is a game that was clearly a labor of love for its makers. Developed by Frozenbyte and published by Atlus, it s available on Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, and (this is a first for this column) Linux for about $15.
Walla Wallan Noah Hinz is a tabletop and electronic games aficionado. A graphic arts student at the Evergreen State College, he’s working on various art projects and game designs. Email your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.