Posted by Dustin Spencer on Dec 7, 2012

Trine 2: Director’s Cut Review

Trine 2: Director’s Cut
Developer: Frozenbyte
Publisher: Frozenbyte
Platform: Nintendo Wii U eShop
Release Date: November 18, 2012
Price: $19.99

Overview
Trine 2 first released upon the world a year ago, boasting some of the most beautiful visuals a digital title had ever produced. Of course it wasn’t just about graphics though, as this game featured an enchanting tale of three characters with very different personalities that must utilize their own special abilities to progress forward in a true puzzle/platforming style. With the Wii U, Trine 2 is back with Trine 2: Director’s Cut. With the Wii U’s promised power, you would think that this title would be a perfect fit. Does this cut of a modern classic make for a must have for the platform, or are you better off sticking to other versions?

Story
Trine 2 starts off by re-introducing us to the main cast which include Amadeus, a cautious wizard, the stealthy and mysterious Zoya, and the brave warrior Pontius – who have been summoned by the Trine for a new adventure. To be honest, the entire plot isn’t too thick or deep, as it mainly revolves around the player’s interactions with two princesses and the quest to save a kingdom, with plenty of goblins and other foes to outsmart and defeat along the way. Deep or not though, this narrative is still told in a charming fashion, rewarding the player for their own exploration with more backstory on the characters that inhabit this world – which is found in poems and other entries that are obtained during the journey.

Gameplay
The actual gameplay of Trine 2 is a bit of a mix between your standard, 2D sidescroller and Portal. I know, using Portal as a comparison is a bit much, but the concept is relatively the same when it boils down to it as the whole “puzzle solving to progress” gimmick is in full effect for the entire experience. Players take control of their choice of protagonist and can swap between each at the press of a button – with every character instantly transforming into the next. These heroes are not simple clones of eachother either, as each have their own cons and benefits when using. Amadeus can levitate objects to finish puzzles, trample enemies, or make a platform to reach a higher point in the stage, while Zoya comes with a handy grappling hook to snag onto wooden surfaces and swing through the stage, as well as a handy bow for ranged attacks. Pontius is more of the hack and slasher, equipped with a sword and hammer that lets him mulch through goblins and break weaker walls. As the game progresses and orbs are collected, players can level up their squad and receive new abilities, while also enhancing each character’s strength and defense.

You would think that the game would be more hectic with this constant character swapping, but it actually works to it’s advantage greatly. Every puzzle, wave of enemies, or platforming section is well placed within each stage, giving the player time to think before utilizing the main abilities of their protagonist. For instance, if you run across a herd of goblins, you can easily go back a few steps and think about how you want to tackle the lot, whether it be by bow or manpower. This doesn’t mean that the enemies stand still by any means, as the AI can be quite clever and are sure to destroy a hero at a stand still. What I do mean however is that if you need a second to think before acting, there will be plenty of time to do so before meeting your doom as Trine 2 works at the pace of the player, letting you plan your own strategies before moving forward.

A lot of the puzzles within the game are open-ended, so they can be solved by any means necessary. Most of these segments involve utilizing the physics of the fauna and items around our characters to make it to the next check point. As an example, there is one section where pipes blow wind to a collapsed platform. The player can take the long route and find more pieces of the pipe to connect, pull up the platform (which will then be kept afloat by your freshly built contraption), and have a new safe entry point, or they can use Zoya’s grappling hook to attempt to swing up to the next area in a much quicker, but less satisfying way. At times I felt as if I were cheating myself by getting through these types of areas by using un-traditional methods, as it’s obvious Frozenbyte put a lot of work into making clever puzzles with this gorgeous world, but I must say it is nice to have the choice to just move on when stumped.

What truly makes this version of Trine 2 different is the Gamepad. Players can use the button layout if they choose, which works well enough – but the touch screen has also come into play, changing things up just a tad from the norm. With the button control scheme, the player can use the left analog stick to move, the face buttons for their attack/action commands, and can utilize the right ZB button in combination with the right stick as a cursor when performing tasks such as levitating blocks or aiming the bow. The touchscreen takes the place of the cursor, and allows the player to whip up their own crates or pull their finger along the screen to aim. At first, I wasn’t really feeling the Gamepad for being the choice way to play the game, as it felt a bit inconvenient. Hours in, I noticed I was swapping between the two without even thinking about it, holding up logs one minute with the touchscreen and using the cursor to aim the bow at the next. This integration for the Gamepad is the best kind in my opinion, as the gimmickry is just an option – leaving the player to decide the scheme that best fits their own playstyle.

This is also the “Director’s Cut” version of the game, which boasts the Goblin Menace expansion, as well as a stage exclusive to the Wii U. Yeah, this version may be five bucks more than the XBLA or PSN versions of the game, but the add-ons and Gamepad support more than make up that small overage, adding hours to the experience. Going back really quick, I mentioned Portal earlier to best explain the puzzles. The reason for that is because when I go back and play Portal, I try to find new ways to explore each stage and attempt to solve the puzzles in different fashions. Trine 2 has that same re-playable nature – with enough collectibles bundled in to keep you coming back, and also includes a nicely structured co-op mode so that players can get a friend in on the action, whether it be online or locally. The detached Gamepad mode is also well suited for the game, allowing users to watch their television or the screen to play the main game at any given time, while still maintaining all of the touchscreen options either way.

Visuals and Audio
Eye candy. Pefection. A Living Story Book. There are not enough words to describe how beautiful the stages within Trine 2 actually are. These worlds may have been crafted for other platforms, but they look just as good – if not better on the Wii U, and will keep your eyes glossy with wonder as you traverse the colorful and polished environments within. Frozenbyte are not like the stingy shopowner who screams “LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH!” either, as these worlds are meant to be interacted with fully, and the busy backdrops just make everything feel that much more alive. I know this is a big statement, but Trine 2 may be the most beautiful game released this generation, with an enchanting paradise that begs to be explored.

The audio is just as exquisite, with a soothing soundtrack that cater to each area’s design. During tense bouts with several enemies, the tempo of the music will rise to create a feeling of unease as the player ponders through paradise, with the music quickly dying down once all threats have been eliminated. Sure, there are not many memorable tracks, but they are all fitting for the environments, creating a create a cozy and warm atmosphere that allows players to calmly participate in the challenges ahead without the need to feel weary of incoming danger. The voicework is decent for the most part, but the narrator that tells this tale is the true star of the game as his friendly and charming tone makes it seem as if the plot a simple fairy tale told by an elderly man in a rocking chair.

Overall
With the Wii U’s eShop, Nintendo needed to prove that they can deliver the same excellence seen on other platforms. Being a launch day release, Trine 2: Director’s cut has already achieved that feat, setting a bar of what we should see from the service, while offering up some of the best looking visuals the platform has seen thus far. Sure, it’s a year old, but age means nothing for this title – as the art style, clever puzzles, and fairy tale narrative come together to create something timeless. It doesn’t matter if you already own Trine 2 for every platform in existence already either. If you are a Wii U owner and want to show your console the top shelf of launch titles, you can’t go wrong here as the Director’s Cut is the definitive version of the game, and one of the most enchanting experiences one can have on their new, dual screened system.

9-5-capsules-out-of-10

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