I normally don’t post about computer games, and think of the “Gaming” section of my blog as being about tabletop RPGs. However, both Mrs. Jiwaku and I have enjoyed Frozenbyte‘s Trine 2 quite a bit, so I’m going to make an exception:
By “quite a bit,” I mean the degree of enjoyment, not the amount of play: it’s taken us ages (and I mean, months on end) to finish the game, but that’s because we’ve rationed it to sessions of about an hour at a time, of only occasional frequency.
Still, it’s been great fun playing together, and working out how to cooperatively beat all the puzzles along the way. As far as games that require teamwork, it’s an excellent example: you can switch between all three of the characters : the wizard (who’s good at magical conjurings and levitating things), the thief (who is skilled at missile attacks and platforming), and the warrior (who mainly excels in combat).
If you set the game up properly in the settings, you can both play any of the roles, even the same character simultaneously. (In fact, it’s a game that accommodates up to three players, but we never had a third play with us.) The thing is that you can solve a lot of the game’s puzzles in multiple ways: throwing a hammer to hit a distant trigger for a machine is one way to set the thing going, but you can also shoot an arrow at it, or hit it with a magically conjured, levitating box. That’s the beauty of the game: there’s multiple solutions to the problems inherent in it. Another lovely thing is that character death isn’t such a big deal: characters get resurrected with each checkpoint you arrive at, and if all the players’ characters get killed, play recommences at one of the frequent checkpoints: this means you rarely have to replay any scene you’ve mastered for very long.
The best thing about Trine 2, aside from all the wonderful things I could say about the gameplay, is the fact that the game is twice as long as we expected. We completed the main quest, thinking that we’d beaten the game, but there was a whole surprise secondary quest at the end… which we expected to be one more battle, but which turned out to be much longer than that, and indeed some of the weirdest and most unusual parts of the game. (This is what I think is titled “The Goblin Menace” on Frozenbyte’s website.)
As far as story goes, the whole thing is fairly simple, very fairy-tale-esque, but that’s all it really needs–anything more complicated would probably get in the way, and the simplicity here is actually a positive. The visuals and the play mechanics were excellent enough to keep us hooked till the end. There’s a definite strand of steampunk mixed in, but also of pulp adventure: the goblin ruins seemed to be a mix of stereotypical Egyptian ruins and steampunk-magical mystery. There are a variety of settings, from desert to icy mountaintops… but those terrains aren’t just backdrop: in the mountaintop setting, an icy wind actually complicates character manoeuvres!
In any case, we really enjoyed Trine 2, and felt like we’d accomplished something once we finished the game. I have at least a couple of friends who’ve played it an enjoyed as much as we did. I got it as part of the Humble Indie Bundle 9, which is long over now, but if you’d like to try it, it’s still in the Humble Bundle Store (as well as on Steam). There’s also a version for the Wii.