Trine 2: The Director’s Cut was the first time the series appeared on a Nintendo platform, way back at the Wii U’s launch. Over two years later, we finally get to see the first adventure the three heroes shared – and now we get that tale with significant visual improvements. So how does the game fare? Well, it’s not as good as the sequel. Of course it isn’t – the sequel improved on practically everything about the original. Even so, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t share the same beautiful visuals, stunning music, fantastical world, and clever gameplay as its follow up – and that means that it is most certainly worth checking out all the same, and is a great place for newcomers to start.
So what is Trine, for those who do not yet know? The series follows the adventures of three heroes: Amadeus the wizard, Zoya the Thief, and Pontius the Knight. You switch between the characters as you attempt to solve puzzles, platform your way through obstacles, and fight enemies. As Amadeus, you can create boxes and planks out of midair and move some objects around; as Zoya, you can grapple from wooden surfaces and shoot arrows; and as Pontius, you can use a sword and shield to fight.
These unique abilities help get you through the game’s many challenges. By pressing R you can switch immediately between the characters. There are situations where you will need to get over pits, or avoid dangerous obstacles, by using and combining these abilities. Maybe you\’ll need to create a box to lower a platform that you can then grapple from; maybe you’ll need to block fireballs with your shield and then create a box to press down a switch.
These puzzles are well done, and certainly fun to play – there are often multiple ways to solve them, especially once you start upgrading your characters with the experience you find in levels, which adds a bit of personal satisfaction in that it is possible no one else solved a conundrum the exact same way you did. Still; they’re exceedingly easy, rarely taking much time to solve with just a few stumpers scattered throughout the experience. This is coming from someone who played the second game first, of course – it’s possible someone who’s starting here would find the puzzles much more challenging.
Combat is a fun time, for sure. Avoiding enemy fire while aiming your bow is exciting, and going in with your sword, getting in blocks with your shield at the last minute flows smoothly and feels great. Still – the game could use more enemies and boss types – even just one or two more – as fighting the same enemies in level 13 as you were in level 4 can get a bit old. Additionally, there are only two types of bosses which show up every once in a while, and though one of them is very fun, the other isn\’t really that great.
For the most part, the game isn’t particularly hard, in any element. The puzzles and platforming challenges are satisfying to complete, but aren’t very tough. The enemies are fun to fight, but there are enough checkpoints that you won’t have any trouble dying; you can immediately just go back and finish them off, even on harder difficulties. Even so, for those who REALLY want a challenge, there’s “hardcore mode”, which doesn’t let you save for the entire level. It’s remarkably challenging, and a great addition for those who want to truly master the game.
Here’s the thing, though: for new players, all this is going to feel fresh and new. For those who bought Trine 2, you’ve experienced this gameplay already, only done better. And that’s not a PROBLEM, considering this is, in fact, a game made before the one most of us have already played, and we’re lucky to even have it on the system. Even so, those who struggled with Trine 2’s gameplay will not enjoy the slight step down, whereas new players will get to experience the series the way it was meant to be experienced: in order, with a rising sense of polish and spectacle as opposed to a slightly lowered one.
The story is unobtrusive, yet fairly interesting nonetheless. The opening tells the tale of a king who dies – and the subsequent battles to become the new king. Soon these struggles are nothing in comparison to a new threat: a dark magic has made the dead come back. The game proper starts as our heroes each explore the Astral Academy for some reason or another, all of them meeting in the treasury where they find a mystical artifact. And thus, the adventure begins.
Again: it doesn’t get in the way of gameplay at all, playing out almost exclusively during gameplay or loading screens. This is good, as not everyone wants to bother with the story. More importantly, when playing with friends, you don’t want to wait for a cutscene to take place. Even so, it’s a reasonably compelling tale nonetheless, with a fairly high stakes plot, a cool storytelling style (the narrator presents it as if he were reading a storybook), and the characters are pretty endearing; unfortunately, these heroes don’t interact much as you go through the level, which is something of a disappointment as their chemistry and banter is extremely fun in the sequel.
If there’s one thing the Trine series is known for, it’s the visuals – and this game doesn’t hold back in that area in the slightest. The incredible art style is put to work, with constantly awe-inspiring views filled with color, personality, and magic. It’s nearly impossible to describe, and the screenshots don’t quite capture what it’s like to experience it in-game. Those who have played the sequel know the general gist of what to expect, and they won’t be disappointed – this game is just as gorgeous as its successor.
If I had one problem, it is that there are too many indoor environments, which simply don\’t have that same sense of awe and wonder as the outdoor environments do. It can start to feel slightly repetitive, as many dungeons and caves have similar architecture with only major differences in color. Still; it’s hard to complain much when there so many gorgeous views, and the indoor areas are still crafted with a precision and beauty rarely matched.
And the music. Oh, the music! It’s simply delightful, with composer Ari Pulkkien delivering absolutely masterful tracks. From the title theme to the Dragon Graveyard to the Crystal Cavern, each track draws you into the world with its fantastical style and delightful sound. I cannot praise this soundtrack enough – it’s what brings the experience all together.
There’s also multiplayer, both local and online. This changes the game considerably, as now you’re trying to work together to solve puzzles and traverse the environment. This makes some puzzles easier and others harder – either way, you’ll be having a great time with friends, or at least having a new twist on the established gameplay when trying to get everyone through alive.
The game’s length will be different for everyone. If you solve every puzzle with ease and just go straight through as fast as possible by yourself, the title will likely take just five or six hours. There’s plenty else to do, though – you can try to find all the experience, upgrades, and chests in every level, which is anything but easy and will likely near double the game’s size. The multiplayer’s value is immense, as it’s a wholly different game when playing with other people – especially friends. At launch, the game is only ten dollars, and that’s a great value – the normal fifteen dollar price tag is a bit more iffy for the level of content, but it’s still worth it in my opinion.
If you enjoyed Trine 2: The Director’s Cut, you’re going to enjoy Trine: Enchanted Edition. It has the same kind of stunning views, incredible atmosphere, and clever puzzles. In gameplay, it undeniably feels like the beginning of a series, with none of the elements feeling as fleshed out as Trine 2, but if you’re OK with just exploring more of this breathtaking world, taking in the sights and sounds while experiencing some pleasant puzzles and combat, it’s worth the fifteen dollar or less price of admission. And for those who have not yet experienced the series, Trine: Enchanted Edition is a great place to start, because it is certainly an amazing experience – and it only gets better from here.