Though Nintendo Wii U's first few months were rocky at best, the system did debut with a strong line-up of titles, which regardless of their origins on other machines helped lend credence to the notion that Third Party developers were throwing their weight behind the new console. At this point in time that view is in question, but for the downloadable side of the matter the eShop looks to be gaining ground with independent developers leading the pack. One of these developers is Frozenbyte, who brought Trine 2 to the Wii U's launch. How does it fare on Nintendo's newest HD wonder?
Although Trine 2 is a sequel to a game that has yet to appear on a Nintendo system, those curious about the title need not fear missing out on important story elements. The game basically follows the same formula and characters with very little reference or reliance on previous events, thereby providing an excellent jumping in point for new Wii U owners.
Trine 2 sits firmly in the 2.5D physics-based platform and puzzle genre and gives the player a team of three characters to control at one time; switching instantly when needed with a press of the button. There is Amadeus the Wizard, a cowardly spell caster who can conjure up blocks and planks to use as stepping stones or weights. Alongside him is the overly cheerful and oblivious Pontius the Armour-clad Knight who acts as the offensive and defensive tool with his sword, shield and throwing hammer.
Making up the trio is Zoya the Thief, an agile longbow specialist with a Ninja Rope and a dry sense of humour. All three are once again summoned by the mystic Trine artefact to embark on a quest across perilous lands, past horrific creatures, and the odd giant troll here and there. The story is played out through scripted narrative scenes within a high number of chapters, and the well-acted voices of each of the characters help to establish tone and setting just as much as the visuals.
Speaking of visuals, Trine 2 will undoubtedly impress the eyes upon first glance. Simply put, the game is beautiful, with a number of environmental themes that will make players want to just stop and stare at. Striking forestry hampered by clouds of poisonous pollution, an icy wasteland frozen in time, a derelict castle with fire-breathing inhabitants; the list goes on to a satisfying degree. Animations of local creatures and plant life are done wonderfully, and the physics engine the game relies on is fluid and reliable.
Trine 2's puzzle gameplay focuses almost entirely on the physics engine, challenging the player to cross otherwise impassable obstacles and chasms using the abilities of the three characters to build bridges, clobber walls and targets, and block harmful foes and gases. With each collectable obtained and bad guy hacked to bits, experience will be gained that will accumulate and roll over to allow for a new ability to be learned. This can be as simple as gaining fire arrows for Zoya, or allowing Amadeus to create more blocks at once, but some can be major difference-makers to the puzzles faced. That is perhaps one of the most ingenious aspects of Trine 2, in that each situation has multiple solutions; even a party with no abilities can get past later puzzles with enough consideration, but obtaining them will present easier answers.
The game is broken into chapter-based levels, but each main puzzle of the level is also broken up by checkpoint marker Orbs that restore health and automatically save progress, making Trine 2 all the more accessible for quick play sessions even before taking the GamePad support into consideration.
The default control option is the GamePad (which conveniently also fully supports Off-TV Play), but Frozenbyte has added in support for Wii Remotes and both the original Wii Classic Controller and its newer Wii U wireless version, allowing players to not only fine-tune their play-throughs to their own preferences, but also allow up to two friends to join in through on-screen co-operative play. This can be extended to online play also, with optional voice chat and easy matchmaking features, allowing you to either join someone else's game in progress or continue off your own current checkpoint.
Although the collectable bottles in the game are the main component of gaining experience points, hidden poem scrolls can be found here and there in more secluded parts of the levels; after finishing the game these will be the biggest reason for collectors to return to the game. That being said, Trine 2 is neither a walk in the park nor a brisk one. A good number of puzzles will leave gamers stumped (though after a while the characters will voice particular things of note to help out) and the large number of chapters to play through more than justifies the price of entry. The online features are merely icing on the cake for a highly recommended eShop title.
Solid puzzling action with interesting and distinct character abilities to juggle, backed by an effective physics engine. Online works well and broad control options do the game justice.
On a good TV set, stunning; on the GamePad screen, surprisingly not far off the same. Beautiful lighting and a large set of themed environments make for a varied adventure.
Tranquil melodies and superb voice acting help make Trine 2's world come alive, even if base tunes like the fight track interrupt the main themes a little too harshly.
By no means an endless game, but with online features and offline co-op players will be spoilt for choice on how to play, and the collectibles will tempt them back when all is said and done.
As far as the Wii U's eShop offerings go, there are very few games it could have started off with that are stronger than this one. Trine 2's tailor-made adventure will delight platform and puzzle fans alike, and the game becomes a surprisingly viable option for multiplayer bashes, too. Not the longest of games, but a beautiful ride while it lasts.