Trine 2: Complete Story is a bit of rarity. You see, it’s a special sort of curio that manages to hit that sweet spot of accessibility, combines it with a visually staggering fairy-tale setting and allows multiple players to get in on the fun with some decent co-op gameplay.
What also doesn’t hurt is that the ‘Complete Story’ suffix ensures that the PlayStation 4 version of Frozenbyte’s game is the best rendition of their opus yet. Aside from boasting all the expansion content released for the game, it also packs the sort of visual upgrade that dulls the pain of not being able to eat for a month on account of the purring box of obsidian plastic that currently resides under your TV.
Casting players as the adventurous trio of Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight and Zoya the Thief, Trine 2’s narrative is a perfunctory, if unspectacular yarn that relies much more on visual storytelling than a sophisticated plot or a bunch of witty dialogue. In guiding the three heroes to heed the call of the mysterious Trine crystal, they are whisked off to a magical forest stuffed with nefarious goblin-folk, massive snails, mysterious witches and a special kind of magical water that does funky things to plants.
A 2D platforming puzzle adventure which is lovingly bolstered by the marriage of some astounding art direction and technical wizardry, the gameplay in Trine 2 Complete Story is centred almost exclusively around physics based conundrums and more pointedly, the unique skill sets of each of the heroes that you’ll need to call upon in order to solve them.
They’re a talented bunch too, since Amadeus can move objects and create boxes which can be stacked to reach areas or block hazards while Zoya can harass foes at range with her bow and shoot a grappling hook into certain surfaces, allowing her to swing across, up and over various obstacles. Finally, Pointus the knight is the obvious brawler; a stout fighter decked out in plate armour, he can block attacks and hazards with his shield and is capable of dishing out punishment via his sword and Thor-like projectile hammer.
Switching between the heroic trifecta couldn’t be easier; you simply tap the L1 or R1 shoulder buttons to make the desired change. Pleasingly, a well-judged balance has been struck in the design of the puzzles so that playing as just one hero alone will not assure success.
For example, one area might require you to use Amadeus to conjure up a box to reach a ledge, switch to Zoya to swing rope your way across a hazardous swamp and then, on the other side, bring Pontius into the equation to deal with an oncoming goblin horde. It’s beautifully judged for the most part and as such, each of the characters can be upgraded with new abilities by collecting the shiny blue orbs and potion bottles which permeate Trine 2’s gorgeous locales.
And herein lies one of the game’s most captivating hooks; above and beyond the need to see each new gloriously rendered level, the temptation to grab every magical orb and potion proves to be an irresistible one, due in no small part the increased ingenuity that the game demands to obtain them.
On the topic of difficulty, the game rarely frustrates. One way that it affords this level of accessibility is through an unobtrusive and customisable hint system; a series of verbal prompts which prod you in the right direction should you find yourself frothing at the mouth and hopelessly stuck on a particularly troublesome puzzle.
Additionally, checkpoints prove to be a welcome respite; being generously placed and replenishing your health and reviving any fallen comrades into the bargain. If all this sounds a little too accommodating however, more confident/foolhardy players will find their masochistic tendencies ably catered for by the game’s Hardcore mode, which limits the amount of times you can come back from the grave and prevents saving during a level.
Where Trine 2 Complete Story struggles to find surer footing though, is in relation to the skills that you can unlock for each character. The skills that you unlock for both Zoya and Pontius seem largely superfluous since they don’t really offer anything truly meaningful above and beyond the default skills that each begin with.
As you expand Amadeus’ arsenal of spells however, you find yourself able to ‘game’ the puzzles in a manner that perhaps the developers hadn’t planned for, as in many cases I was able to simply conjure up multiple boxes to reach areas that I was supposed to reach in a different fashion. So as you might reasonably guess, it pays to invest your skill points in the wizard’s box building talents since they provide the most tangible benefit to the gameplay.
In terms of content, Trine 2 Complete Story isn’t a trivial affair. Stuffed to the brim with content including a main single-player campaign which lasts between 8-12 hours, the seamlessly integrated Goblin Menace expansion pack which lasts between 3-5 hours and an additional secret level on top of that, Frozenbyte’s PlayStation 4 debut certainly doesn’t skip on value.
Brilliantly, you don’t have to embark on the adventure alone either, as Trine 2 Complete Story supports both online and local co-op modes. The inclusion of the latter is especially appreciated in this era where developers are seemingly keen to eschew the feature.
Boasting a visual veneer that would typically exceed the remit and budget of other independent studios, Frozenbyte’s game looks resplendent in its PlayStation 4 duds; boasting a liquid smooth, 60 frames per second screen update which neatly compliments the retina-searing 1080p visuals that Sony’s newest console permits.
The art direction is spot on too. Evoking a vivid yet dream-like fairy tale realm awash in an explosion of colour, life and near-flawless animation, it often feels as if your TV has transcended itself somehow into a looking-glass pointed at a fantastical world straight out of a fairy tale.
Elsewhere, complimented by a deft mixture of gentle serenades, haunting melodies and an appropriately rousing score where needed, the music of Trine 2 Complete Story duly impresses; setting the scene perfectly for the epic journey throughout with due aplomb.
Ably standing alongside triple-A efforts, Trine 2 Complete Story is the definitive version of one of the best adventures to come out in the last couple of years. More crucially than that, it’s just a great deal of fun to play. It’s time to give Resogun a break.