E3 2011: Trine 2 hands-on preview

Rogues, wizards, and warriors are too often associated with the dungeon crawler. Sure, they make a great team when killing trolls and goblins, but what about those times when they have to get across a giant gap? Or need to get a magical plant to grow so they can get to the top of a tower? Or any number of other physics puzzles? They've got to be able to work together on those too, right? Trine 2 proves that they absolutely can.

At its core, it's a 2D physics puzzle platformer with three characters that you can constantly swap between on the fly to solve the various puzzles strewn about the levels. The rogue has a grappling hook that she can use to swing herself up to higher platforms or pull others down, while the wizard can move objects around or summon new ones, and the warrior just goes ahead and smashes everything in his path. When playing alone, you can switch between the three with a quick button press, allowing you to finish puzzles that your current class can't tackle.

But what fun would a multi-class game be without co-op? We say very little. Taking a page from Little Big Planet's book, you and your crew each choose one of the classes and go tromping through the world of Trine 2, solving puzzles together. Because there's not a singular solution to many of the puzzles, solving them with buddies becomes a fluid affair, with everyone trying different things at once, and oftentimes, succeeding simultaneously. Having a wizard climb a ladder he created up a ledge while the rogue swings across on her grappling hook at the same time shows exactly how you can use the classes' varying abilities to complete the levels. Oh, and the warrior busts through the wall below them. To each his or her own, right?

But when the players work together to get past a particular puzzle, the true joy of Trine 2 starts to show through. At one point in the demo, we had our warrior knock down a wall to unleash a rolling log, which was promptly jumped on by the rogue and picked up by the wizard, who then carried both of them over to the switch, which unlocked the next room. It was all extremely intuitive, with little chatting between the players and a whole bunch of "I wonder if this will work" mutterings. Even if it wasn't pretty, it usually did work, which is a testament to the game's flexible physics.

Really, that's what Trine 2 is all about. Playing with the hugely different ways to take on any given situation is an integral part of the game. Trine 2 excels in accepting many different approaches to each level, and we're intrigued to see the places players are able to take it.

Jun 14, 2011

Taylor Cocke is a Los Angeles-based writer and producer who spends too much time watching numbers go up in MMOs and ARPGs. You name it, he's written and/or produced for them, which is shocking considering the aforementioned MMO playing.