Trine 2: Complete Story Review – Switch

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Trine 2: Complete Story, developed and published by Frozenbyte, has once again brought the magic to the masses by rolling out on the Nintendo Switch.  This is about the third time I’ve played Trine 2 in some capacity but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. It brings a certain pizzazz that much of the puzzle game industry is still grasping for, it’s about the only puzzle platformer that I can still replay more than once, as made obvious by the third time I’m playing this. Many things are unchanged but a few are different for sure.

Being the “Complete Story” brings with it the “Goblin Menace” as well as “Dwarven Caravan” expansions that add a total of 7 additional levels, new story and additional skills you can attain. Obviously, Trine 2 is a sequel, although it doesn’t require any knowledge of the first game as we meet up with Amadeus the Wizard, comfortably napping after long hours researching the elusive Fireball spell. A rush of wind forces the door of his cottage open extinguishing the lights, and then a bright light shines through the window waking him up. Amadeus staggers outside into a lush storybook wonderland that serves as your first of three-character tutorials.

Once Amadeus meets up with the Trine (a magical beacon of light), you will link up with the other two members of your team, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief, who each have their own introductory lessons that showcase their unique skills and abilities. Pontius is your fighter armed with sword, shield and hammer while Zoya uses her bow and grapple for ranged combat and platform navigation. Together, these three are an unstoppable force once you learn to master their unique talents.

There is also a nice leveling-up process that requires you to collect these glass jars scattered about the levels. Some are quite obvious while others require special feats of navigation and acrobatics, or perhaps magical intervention or even the forceful smash of Pontius’ blade or hammer. For every 50 you collect you will obtain one skill point that can be spent to upgrade any of the three characters in various ways.

Amadeus’ skill tree allows him to levitate a monster or increase his initial conjuring ability to include multiple objects or even a plank; a nice alternative to the normal boxes he can summon. Zoya can upgrade to fire and ice arrows or even unlock a stealth ability while Pontius can upgrade his shield so it freezes his enemies or give his hammer a Thor-like throwing ability. The various upgrades get progressively more expensive, so you often have to bank your skill points and save up for the more powerful enhancements.

Gameplay, or at least the concept, is eloquently simple by design but the actual game provides some of the most fiendish puzzles of any game to date.  And thanks to a wonderful physics system, there is an unparalleled ability to experiment and solve these navigation, combat, and item collection puzzles in a multitude of ways. I came away from 60% of the puzzles in this game thinking I had “tricked the designers” and had done something “nobody else would ever think of”.

Unlike previous versions of the game where you could use Amadeus to create a box or plank and have co-op players ride the object like a magic carpet, summoned objects will cease to levitate when another player steps on them.   You can still use created objects as quick stepping stones for other players, but the designers finally fixed a major flaw in the co-op play.  Summoned objects still make collecting jars stashed on high ledges a breeze by still being able to knock them down to the ground.  The camera also needs to pull out a bit more in co-op play. Way too often you are fighting the edge of the screen (and the other players) to grab an object just out of reach.

While worthless in combat, Amadeus is by far the most versatile. His ability to conjure boxes and planks is critical in just getting through the levels, and the more boxes and planks he can summon, the easier it is to get through the game and get a 100% collection. He can also levitate the environment like rocks, logs, leaves, and even these deadly spore-shooting plants that can be aimed at the enemy. You can also affect the environment like jamming a summoned box into the gears of some machine, moving pieces of pipe to create new air streams, or tug on a curled leaf to redirect water flow to irrigate a seed into a climbable plant.

Pontius comes into play whenever the game throws a batch of enemies at you. He can slash his way through most with ease; others require being stunned first, and others require a pounding with his hammer.  Zoya is great for targeting enemies perched on ledges or shooting fire arrows into exploding barrels. Her grapple is perfect for zipping up to the top of the screen or swinging across bottomless chasms.  And when it comes time to go swimming, you can enjoy three individual air meters, effectively tripling the time you can spend exploring underwater as long as you switch characters.

There is a steady progression in difficulty in both the gameplay and the puzzles yet Trine 2 never gets frustrating thanks to its wonderful healing and checkpoint system. About every two screens scrolled there is a glowing orb that will heal your party and resurrect any dead characters. There were even a few combat encounters that take place on the same screen as one of these orbs, effectively making you indestructible. You’ll never have to repeat a combat or solve a difficult puzzle twice in this game.

Trine 2: Complete Story is a solid 12-15 hour game when you factor in the embedded DLC; although your mileage may vary based entirely on how easily you can figure out the puzzles it presents and whether or not you are playing alone or co-op. There is a built-in hint system that you can tweak to provide hints after a certain amount of time. Completionists will want to go for the perfect kills and collectibles, both XP jars and hidden treasures, and there are interesting Game+ modes to experiment with after your initial trip through the game.

The Nintendo Switch offers a slightly different experience than the previous versions I’ve played being capped at 720P/30FPS in handheld mode and 1080P/30FPS in console mode, so I was curious to see the difference in gameplay, but the Switch did a pretty good job of still keeping it seamless. The biggest difference for me was the feel of playing in handheld mode after playing console with the joy-cons. The joy-cons in console mode played much like I expected after experiencing PS4, but handheld just feels…off. The game itself felt slower and the controls a bit more touchy, especially with creating boxes with Amadeus.

With the addition of the Nintendo Switch membership you can expand your co-op play to the rest of the world. As of this writing (two weeks since launch) I have not gotten a single multiplayer game to show up on my list, but I can safely assume it’s the same as every other multiplayer Trine game; someone chooses a character and nobody else can use it until they are switched out of it. While Trine is best played as a multiplayer game with its trio of characters, you’ll have a better time playing local co-op.  It’s just easier to communicate and cooperate.  The game really does get cheated on difficulty with some human ingenuity, which we always take full advantage of.

Trine 2 has been around since 2011, so chances are most of you have already played this game on some other system, but if for some reason you haven’t experienced the charming co-op puzzle platformer and you want the Complete Story on a portable format then this is $17 well spent. Trine 2: Complete Story looks and plays just as good as it did eight years ago; truly a timeless classic.