Yes, yes, it’s true. The original version of Frozenbyte’s 2D fantasy co-op action puzzler Trine 2 came out about a year ago. Back then, it was praised for it’s incredibly rich detailed settings, beautiful graphics, and intuitive gameplay. The co-op never seemed forced and in fact enhanced the experience. It was a good game. A year on, the Wii U wanted to launch its eShop strong, and so what better way to do it than bringing in a game that already knocked all the critics dead a year ago? Of course, the risk is that we’ve seen it all before, and there’s nothing very exciting about releasing an old game a year later on a new console at full price. Luckily, this isn’t your daddy’s Trine 2. Instead, Frozenbyte has given us Trine 2: Director’s Cut, which includes the Goblin Menace DLC, an entirely new level just for this release, and a bunch of elegant Wii U Gamepad support, and I’m happy to say that the game is just as great as it ever was.
In Trine 2 you have the option of controlling three different characters, a wizard, a knight, and a thief. Luckily, these aren’t just reskinned clones of each other, but unique characters with totally separate abilities. The wizard can levitate objects and build boxes and platforms, the knight has a sword and shield and can break large objects with his hammer, and the thief has a long range bow and a grappling hook for swinging across large gaps and up onto platforms. The puzzles in this game require the skills of all three, and when you’re playing single player mode, you can switch between the characters on the fly. The director’s cut has also added a bunch of touch screen support to the mix, which is especially useful for the wizard, who feels much more elegant now that you can drag objects and enemies around with your fingers and draw lines and boxes right onto the screen to conjure magical items.
Solving puzzles on your own has never been more satisfying, and co-op mode makes it even better, as long as you’re playing online. In person, the local multiplayer is often bogged down with frustrating camera issues that sometimes make it pretty difficult to solve the puzzles however you’d like, having to settle instead for much slower deliberate solutions. This is especially problematic because of the creativity-encouraging freedom you’re often given by the game to solve puzzles in whatever manner you’d like. Having to worry about where your characters are in local multiplayer takes a lot of this freedom to explore away, and makes the game move along at a much slower pace. That said, online, this game works beautifully, and really should be experienced by anyone with a Wii U looking for something to play after they finish Mario and NintendoLand,and the upcoming voice chat feature that drops later this month will make the experience even better.
Graphically, the game is still top notch, especially for a 2.5D platformer, and looks even better on the Wii U than it does on Xbox 360 or PS3. The lighting effects, the detailed environments, and the elaborate boss creatures especially stood out to me as something that I found not only adequate, but really and truly impressive. Seriously, you can’t not be surprised by how good this game looks. The voice acting is also pretty good, though the characters seem distant and delirious at times, and the music works well too, even if it is a tad forgettable, but all in all, this clever puzzler comes in one sexy package that truly has to be seen to be believed. A screenshot does not do it justice; it really looks great, even running in 720p at a steady 30fps.
As far as controls go, however, I was left feeling a little off-balance. In single player and online multiplayer, you use the Gamepad. You can play the game even when the TV’s off, controls are excellent, and everything’s fine. Local multiplayer, though, presents the problem of deciding who gets to use what. The only person who really needs to be using the Gamepad is the wizard, because of the obvious synergy between his levitating and drawing powers and the touchscreen on the pad, but since the Wii U only supports one of these, and Pro Controller support has not yet been added to the game, everybody else has to use either the Wii Remote/Nunchuk combo to point at the screen with a clumsy pointer or the awkwardly small Wii Classic Controller, both of which are equally inferior to the Gamepad, and make the smooth controls feel worse in every way. Admittedly, there’s not much to be done here on Frozenbyte’s part as far as Gamepads are concerned, but that lack of Pro Controller support is puzzling, and actually negatively impacts enjoyment of the game.
In the end, Trine 2: Director’s Cut does justify the slight addition to its name with all the improvements and extras that have been added to this version, and the game is still as fun as always, and beautiful as all get-out. It does carry with it some minor flaws, but nothing game-breaking, and even the biggest of nitpickers will likely come up treasuring the time they spend with this game. If you already played it last year, but never got around to the DLC, I’d even recommend picking it up again to see all the new stuff looking even better than you remember. It’s rare that a fantasy game is made in this charmingly lame, slightly archaic tone anymore, but Trine 2: Director’s Cut is a shining example of everything wonderful about the genre, and I’m not going to spoil it here, but man oh man, if you’re a real geek, you’re gonna really dig those unlockables. Bottom line, give this game a shot. You’ll thank me.