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GamingOnLinux Reviews - Trine 2: Complete Story

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Game Information:
Name: Trine 2: Complete Story
Released: June 6, 2013
Developer: Frozenbyte
Rating: 8.5/10

Hardware Specifications:
Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 3.2 Ghz
Video Card: Diamond AMD Radeon HD 4670
Memory: 4 Gigabytes DDR3 PC10666, 1333 MHz
Hard Drive: 500 GB Western Digital Caviar Black

System Specifications:
Distribution: Arch Linux
Kernel: Linux 3.11.2
Graphics Driver: R600 Gallium3D Driver
Desktop Environment: Xfce with composting

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The original Trine (2009) first became notable to me after I had discovered that its developer Frozenbyte had given full permission to redistribute certain screenshots of the game under a Creative Commons license as long as an attribution back to them was preserved. This is a sadly underused marketing technique which also provides the added benefit of allowing a company's game titles to have beautifully well illustrated articles on Wikipedia. By this point some of Frozenbyte's earlier titles in the Shadowgrounds series (2005-2007) had already arrived on Linux in the form of somewhat underwhelming third-party ports, but with the knowledge I had gained from their policy regarding screenshots, I had discovered that the game's original developers were well capable of trying new and better methods of interacting with their community. As such, I accordingly became quite confident that this situation would at some point improve upon itself.

Later that year came word that a port of Trine was expected to be released for Linux in the near future, with it finally arriving alongside updated and improved Shadowgrounds ports in the form of the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle (2011). While these releases were once again handled by an independent third-party porting house called Alternative Games, the original developer of the series, Frozenbyte, later committed to handling the Linux port of their next game Trine 2 themselves, although us Linux gamers still needed to tolerate a delay of several months before we were actually able to play the game. This trend continued with the release of the Goblin Menace expansion, which remained unavailable on our platform until the Linux release of Steam, and even longer for those of use who refuse to play any game that employs DRM, with the expansion content not being accessible to us until the release of Trine 2: Complete Story as part of Humble Indie Bundle 9 (2013). While Frozenbyte's heart is clearly in the right place, it has most definitely developed a tendency of keeping us waiting before sharing with us some of its regard.

For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the main thing that sets it apart from other similar physics platformers is that it allows players to take control of three unique heroes in order to solve a variety of puzzles and battle enemies, an idea that first originated for them with the release of Shadowgrounds: Survivor (2007). Amadeus is a somewhat cowardly and self-indulgent wizard who nevertheless means well and can use his magical powers to move and conjure objects. Pontius is a proud and noble knight of significant girth and less than average intelligence, who nevertheless is a stout fighter and a man of great physical and moral strength. Zoya, meanwhile, is a rather counter-intuitively eye catching thief who uses her grappling hook and bow to sneak through the night unheard and unseen, often for nefarious purposes. The original game chronicled the events that led to these three becoming united as one powerful force by touching the Trine, a mystical object that allows for the joining of souls, as well as conveniently bringing our characters back to life whenever the need arises, which it quite often does.

Trine 2 takes full advantage of the possibilities that having three playable characters can offer, with one being able to switch between all three in single-player mode or have each player cycle between the bunch of them while playing cooperatively. Frozenbyte did a very good job of making each of these characters feel indispensable while playing the game, with each having very specific and useful abilities that the others lack, ensuring that all three of the heroes get a significant amount of screen time throughout the course of the game. That being said, Frozenbyte also tried to ensure that no one character would ever become essential to solving any one particular game breaking puzzle, which means that it is always up to the players themselves to decide which solution works best for them, something that allows for a far greater flexibility of action than is seen in some other similar games such as Recoil Games' Rochard (2011).

This is one area where Trine 2 does build on considerably when compared to its predecessor, with the balance of strengths between the characters receiving some subtle but important tweaks that do well to help balance out the tripartite whole in several small if still very noticeable ways. Added abilities given to Zoya and Pontius help them become far more effective at navigating the game's complex worlds and make the wizard a little less of an obvious choice when it comes to puzzle solving, with the knight's enhanced power to charge across gaps and Zoya's talent for generating ice floes with her ice bow coming in particularly handy. Amadeus, meanwhile, who was almost entirely defenceless in the original game besides his ability to drop objects on foes, is now given a far greater range of offensive capabilities, from being able to pick up and daze enemies before tossing them into convenient hazards to generating specific monster cages that can imprison hostile adversaries.

Certain other game elements have also been given small but still important tweaks, often for the better. A new skills menu replaces the old inventory screen of the first game, and gives the player far greater flexibility in deciding which characters can be assigned experience points. Experience can now also be traded between characters, which is a very useful thing due to the sequel's much expanded skill tree and sometimes high skill prices. All collectable items are now merely esoteric elements, which mostly serve to help flesh out the game world and sometimes elaborate on specific plot points. They still reward players for cleverness and exploration, but they no longer provide any particular gameplay advantages or tools like they did in the first game. The energy variable that limited the amount of actions available to the player at any given time and needed to be recharged by the collection of blue energy bottles has also been dropped in the sequel, likely due to the more rounded out skill sets of the game's three main characters, as it always did seem to be there mostly as an artificial block to try and counter the puzzle solving abilities of the wizard.

But by far the most intuitive change was the implementation of a proper save system, something which Frozenbyte seemed surprisingly adverse to in their previous titles. While the original Trine did already improve upon this by the addition of a checkpoint system that served to replenish characters and resurrect them after they died, unlike in the Shadowgrounds games where such a situation forced a painful level restart, in Trine 2 one's progress is saved upon closing to the main menu, meaning that you do not actually need to finish a level before quitting or taking a break from a particularity irritating puzzle. Completed levels can still thankfully be selected from a convenient menu screen however, keeping the best feature that was gained from their previous harshness to saving. The physics and input calculations have also been made faster and more fine tuned making it easier to conjure and move objects, all of which allows the game's interface to be a lot less of a grating experience.

The puzzles have also grown to be far larger and more elaborate than in the previous game. The original Trine relied heavily on many physic puzzle staples such as seesaws, scales, gears, pendulums, and revolving platforms, as well as several traditional platforming elements. Trine 2 still has all of these while also adding many new imaginative puzzles that take advantage of the game's more natural setting, consisting mostly of forests, ruins, and other structures overran by growth. One puzzle which is heavily used, and is also quite plot important, involves guiding magic water to certain designated spots in order to grow large plants which can help the player navigate to certain previously inaccessible parts of the level, or occasionally trigger a sequence of events vital to the progression of the game. These setups do well to utilize the game's physics engine, as it often takes a detailed understanding of how the game world works in order to make the water flow exactly as you expect it to. Bouncy mushrooms and mud slides also help to make the game feel faster and far more fluid, while noxious gas clouds and carnivorous plants remind us why we must not always be so willing to embrace the raw forces of the natural world.

Two other new puzzles involve either the movement of portals, controlled by levers, and fitting pipes into the right order in order to solve the game's grave plumbing issues. These are some of the more hard-boiled puzzles present in the game, and the ones that are most likely to stop the game flow as you are solving them. I found the portal puzzles to be rather finicky, and they were one of the few things that actually slowed me down enough to hear the game's integrated hint system come into effect, even on subsequent replays. The pipe puzzles I found to be a lot more enjoyable, if still a little time consuming; the pipes typically carry jets of varying elements which either need to be diverted in order to make certain machines function, generate bubbles, move gusts of air, or to simply make them no longer an obstacle. One still needs to be careful while doing this however, as in one clever sequence solving an assumed pipe puzzle actually activates an unrelated magical monster generator. Pipes, and all other levitated objects for that matter, can be rotated by using the “A” and “D” keys, something which makes these sequences far easier, although this knowledge was not made immediately discoverable by the game.

Zoya's grappling hook is still by far one of the fastest and most enjoyable ways of getting through the levels, with it being able to affix to any wooden surface and swing her about from place to place, sometimes with comically awkward results; she still has a tendency to become stretched, swung into spike strips, dangled in front of monsters, or forced into other humiliating if still amusing outcomes due to the elasticity of her grapple. That is not to say her power is not useful however, and the same flexibility that leads to some of these previously mentioned quirks can also become an acute advantage, as anyone who has backtracked through half a level just to grab a wooden box to place precariously over a ledge in order to grapple to it and leap onto the ledge just as the box slides and falls into an acid pit can readily attest. Pontius' storm hammer also returns with a vengeance, becoming if anything an even more essential asset due to its power to smash through walls and break weakened structures. It can also serve as a ranged weapon, striking enemies and obstructions with a force that only Zoya's new explosive arrows can match, something that helps compensate for the fact he can no longer pick and up and hurl objects.
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16 comments
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HadBabits 24 October 2013 at 2:32 am UTC
I still have yet to finish Trine 2. I got stuck on a level where the Wizard apparently needed planks to complete the puzzle. However, without having acquired that in my skill tree and trying everything I could think of, I exited the game with a huff and have yet to return.
Hamish 24 October 2013 at 2:46 am UTC
As I mentioned in the review, you can trade points between characters, so you could have temporarily acquired the plank by sacrificing a different skill from any of the characters. Although, I have no notion of any level that requires you to use the plank; as I said, puzzles were designed not to rely on any one character, so there probably was another way to handle it all the same.
HadBabits 24 October 2013 at 11:34 am UTC
Ah, then maybe I was just being thick XD
bricklin 24 October 2013 at 3:10 pm UTC
You can also play the level with multiplayer then a online player with more skills can help you out.
n30p1r4t3 24 October 2013 at 7:30 pm UTC
Were you able to max out the game on the Gallium driver?
Hamish 25 October 2013 at 2:32 am UTC
I did not have all of the effects turned on when I was playing due to the performance penalty; whether or not the driver itself can support all of the effects the game offers I do not know, but I was fairly pleased with what I did get considering the hardware being used.
KIAaze 28 October 2013 at 10:31 am UTC
Wow, that is an impressively long and detailed article. I will have to read it later. Kudos for the work put into writing it!
Cheeseness 6 November 2013 at 7:28 am UTC
Great review, Hamish

I wasn't previously aware of the CC screenshot licencing. That's fantastically progressive and scores Frozenbyte additional (how is that possible?) love points.


I like that you highlighted Margaret's presence in the series (something I didn't get to touch on with my review of the original Trine 2 game). I do feel that whilst her being the MacGuffin of Goblin Menace strengthened Amadeus' character, it did seem to significantly weaken Zoya, who as you say, was starting to border being hateful. I recall feeling that Pontius' stupidity being used for comic relief in Trine 2 might have been a bit excessive, but it's been a little while since I played it through.

Gosh, what a delight it was to finally get to glide with Pontius' shield. The franchise had been crying out for it since day one, with its spiritual predecessor, The Lost Vikings, having set precedence for "the fat guy should fly". I do feel that it'd be nice if Pontius could hurt enemies by jumping on them with the shield below, but maybe we'll get that in Trine 3

I'm unsure about how good a thing the flexible skill point allocation is. On one hand, it's nice to be able to experiment and try different things, but not having the skills lock in at all means that you often find yourself pausing the game to switch skill configurations instead of using what abilities you currently have to solve a problem (which is more interesting from a puzzle/critical thinking perspective).

I now have an itching to play the game again. We should have a co-op runthrough at some stage! It'd be neat to attempt to stream a GOL playthrough or something.
Hamish 6 November 2013 at 5:50 pm UTC
Quote from CheesenessGosh, what a delight it was to finally get to glide with Pontius' shield. The franchise had been crying out for it since day one, with its spiritual predecessor, The Lost Vikings, having set precedence for "the fat guy should fly".

Has Frozenbyte ever acknowledged a connection between the two? It seems to be the great assumption with regards to Trine is that it is based on The Lost Vikings, but I have never seen Frozenbyte themselves make the connection.

Quote from CheesenessI do feel that it'd be nice if Pontius could hurt enemies by jumping on them with the shield below, but maybe we'll get that in Trine 3

I do wonder what Frozenbyte's next move is going to be. When the expansion was announced there was word of a new IP, but now they seem to be talking up the idea of a new Trine game instead. I personally feel that it would be better for Frozenbyte to try something new; while there are a few more places it could go (as you mentioned, hurting enemies with the shield) the sequel was already getting rather abstract with the powers and the plot and characters only have so much more life in them. But they could always surprise me.

Quote from CheesenessI'm unsure about how good a thing the flexible skill point allocation is. On one hand, it's nice to be able to experiment and try different things, but not having the skills lock in at all means that you often find yourself pausing the game to switch skill configurations instead of using what abilities you currently have to solve a problem (which is more interesting from a puzzle/critical thinking perspective).

It is a trade off between flexibility and economy - while it does indeed diminish the need to select powers carefully and figure out how best they are used, it does also allow the player to come up with more creative solutions to problems. For my part, I basically treated the skills as as being hard set after I selected them until I reached the Goblin Menace levels, where all of the new powers with higher skill prices prompted me to do a bit more experience exchanges.

Quote from CheesenessII now have an itching to play the game again. We should have a co-op runthrough at some stage! It'd be neat to attempt to stream a GOL playthrough or something.

I assume that the Steam and DRM free versions can not communicate with each other, which would be problematic?
Cheeseness 6 November 2013 at 9:04 pm UTC
Quote from Hamish
Quote from CheesenessGosh, what a delight it was to finally get to glide with Pontius' shield. The franchise had been crying out for it since day one, with its spiritual predecessor, The Lost Vikings, having set precedence for "the fat guy should fly".

Has Frozenbyte ever acknowledged a connection between the two? It seems to be the great assumption with regards to Trine is that it is based on The Lost Vikings, but I have never seen Frozenbyte themselves make the connection.

I've spotted Joel say that it provided some inspiration. I wasn't meaning to imply that Trine was based on The Lost Vikings as such, just that due to any inspiration that was drawn from it and the similarities between character dynamics encourage the comparison.

Quote from Hamish
Quote from CheesenessI do feel that it'd be nice if Pontius could hurt enemies by jumping on them with the shield below, but maybe we'll get that in Trine 3

I do wonder what Frozenbyte's next move is going to be. When the expansion was announced there was word of a new IP, but now they seem to be talking up the idea of a new Trine game instead. I personally feel that it would be better for Frozenbyte to try something new; while there are a few more places it could go (as you mentioned, hurting enemies with the shield) the sequel was already getting rather abstract with the powers and the plot and characters only have so much more life in them. But they could always surprise me.

My spider senses tell me something new and big is on the way.

Quote from Hamish
Quote from CheesenessI'm unsure about how good a thing the flexible skill point allocation is. On one hand, it's nice to be able to experiment and try different things, but not having the skills lock in at all means that you often find yourself pausing the game to switch skill configurations instead of using what abilities you currently have to solve a problem (which is more interesting from a puzzle/critical thinking perspective).

It is a trade off between flexibility and economy - while it does indeed diminish the need to select powers carefully and figure out how best they are used, it does also allow the player to come up with more creative solutions to problems. For my part, I basically treated the skills as as being hard set after I selected them until I reached the Goblin Menace levels, where all of the new powers with higher skill prices prompted me to do a bit more experience exchanges.

I found myself being less creative, to be honest. On my first runthroughs, I didn't bother with magnetism much at all, opting to reallocate points to skills that I was more familiar with the use of instead of really exploring it. This lead to me being thoroughly confused by a seemingly impossible to reach chest in the ice level.

Quote from Hamish
Quote from CheesenessII now have an itching to play the game again. We should have a co-op runthrough at some stage! It'd be neat to attempt to stream a GOL playthrough or something.

I assume that the Steam and DRM free versions can not communicate with each other, which would be problematic?

My understanding was that there were plans to allow DRM free and Steam players to play together, though I'm not sure what came of that. It's not really a big deal though. I have both
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