The first major eShop title is finally among us Australians, and boy is it a doozy. It’s great to see FrozenByte’s puzzle platformer, Trine 2: Director’s Cut finally make its way to Australia and with the patch available from the outset too. As a precaution – please be aware that this review will be taking into consideration the patched version. Given that you need to be online to obtain this, we are of the position that most will be in the capacity to update the game and experience the same product we are reviewing right now.
Trine 2: Director’s Cut, as the name suggests, includes more than just the base Trine 2 game. It also includes the original game, the Goblin’s Menace expansion pack and a brand new area (the Dwarven Caverns) crafted exclusively for the Wii U. It’s a very meaty package, and the expansion in particular does a good job at expanding the Trine universe outside of the archetypal medieval environments and into more unconventional ones such as deserts and even the insides of a mysterious creature. Of course, Trine 2 also supports online play, voice chat and off-screen play on the GamePad.
Trine 2 is a fantasy game that doesn’t have an immense amount of story behind it. Players take on the role of three characters – a mage, a knight and a thief. All three of these are bound together by a mysterious artefact called the Trine. All three of these heroes have been summoned to the kingdom to rid the evil hordes of Goblins. Being a sequel, one might be concerned that the lack of knowledge about the first game – but I’ll be blunt. Trine isn’t story intensive, as the characters aren’t properly explored and don’t really tell too much of a story. This is great for newcomers, as there’s not much to catch up on, and allows the player to focus on the gameplay more so than anything else.
The first thing most players will notice about Trine 2 is that there are many control options available to the player. Given the multitude of options – we saw fit to try them all out. The GamePad itself is unsurprisingly the best way to control the game, once you get over the small difficulty curve. The biggest problem is that the action button and change character button takes a while to properly learn – we would often change our character when we wanted to carry out an action or vice versa. It was, to say the least, annoying. That being said, Trine 2 is not an adrenaline pumping action game so it didn’t become too frustrating – though we really wish we had an option to configure our controls.
The Wii Remote eschews touch pad controls in favour of pointer ones, and the Wii U Pro Controller is nice but somewhat plain. In short – it’s definitely the GamePad that works well, so much so that it feels like a game developed for the Wii U originally. Some of the touch screen controls work really well (ie. Dragging and conjuring items as the mage) while others don’t work quite as well (ie. Using the warrior’s sword). But the best thing – is that these touch screen controls are entirely optional and not required should the player want a more traditional experience.
The three characters the player controls all control quite similarly – but each of them have their own specific moves. The Knight/Warrior is best at fighting, using a sword to attack and a shield to deflect objects and reflect beams/waves of energy. The thief shoots arrows and can grapple along gaps and chasms using her grappling hook. Finally, the mage can conjure and move objects using his magic to bridge gaps, block hazardous objects and create platforms to climb areas. Your characters can all be upgraded using experience collected throughout the stage, with five skills per character to be unlocked in a skill tree (of which can be reset at any time).
The different abilities that each character has means that almost every puzzle the player comes across in Trine 2 can be solved in a different way each time you run through the game. Trine 2 features a very dynamic and robust physics engine that allows players to move objects around and use them to reach your goal – usually making you wonder if the developers intended for you to get through said puzzles your way. The problem with giving the player so many options is that it can be kind of easy to “accidently” get through an area or solve a puzzle, rather than solve it properly with proper thinking. Though we suppose this outlook could change depending on your own psychological outlook on things in general. Thankfully, puzzles strike a careful balanced between frustration and fulfilment, and thankfully we found most to be in the latter during our play through.
Trine 2 also features several online features. Of course, it has MiiVerse functionality which allows players to post screenshots and ask for help. We didn’t need it, but it was nice to see the community helping other players out, whether it be with sketched hints or just typed ones. Additionally, local multiplayer and co-operative online multiplayer are also offered. Both perform well, and change up the dynamic considerably as all three characters will appear on screen rather than one player switching between all three. With the patch, voice chat is also offered which is invaluable for collaboration between players. Online performs very admirably too.
As an eShop title, Trine 2 is priced at approximately $20 (a special price is still available at the time of writing, however). As such, one has to wonder how much value is included in the package. With roughly ten hours’ worth of gameplay during the main “story” of the game, the expansion adds on roughly eight more hours making this an incredibly meaty game (several more hours can be added on if you want to find everything to enter the Wii U exclusive area and complete that too). In addition to this, completionists will enjoy searching for art pieces and collectibles to further extend their experience. In short – considering the length of the campaign, the amount of content and the online functionality, Trine 2 is the full package and well worth purchasing.
Finally, the game is presented beautifully. The backdrops and the landscapes are some of the most immaculate and the most beautiful on the Wii U. The lighting system, which has since been upgraded with the latest patch, also adds to the atmosphere and tone of the game. Light shines down through the trees, hits water and glistens as the player walks through. It’s crazy to think that I stopped to look at each environment as I passed through it – but I really did. It’s very well done – even moonlight has been tweaked to not be as intense as sunlight but still give everything a glow. It’s a beautiful game that absolutely drips atmosphere. The details lend themselves to creating a very sparkly and alive world that fits the fantasy theme and tone of Trine.
Surprisingly, there is a lot of voice work in the game and it’s very well done as well, with many of the actors giving just enough of a satirical edge to their performances to fit the tone of the game perfectly. It’s great simply because it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the vocal performance of the characters really hammers that home. The score is also very good, featuring some very dark and ambient tunes that give the game a very dark tone.
Trine 2: Director’s Cut is a great game that takes advantage of all of the Wii U’s functionality, as well as incorporating features found on other platforms at the same parity. The gameplay is fun, the mechanics and puzzles are great and the longevity of the package – at the asking price – is absolutely fantastic value for money. The additions for the Director’s Cut are, admittedly, probably not for those who have already tried and finished Trine 2, but this title is definitely among the eShop’s best and hopefully a sign of what’s to come from other developers. Just a shame that the game’s greatest asset also contributes to its biggest downfall – that it’s just simply too easy to fumble your way through the “puzzles”. A puzzle platformer that is easily accessible and approachable for people of all ages and experiences that comes highly recommended.