Platform: Wii U
When Nintendo announced that the Wii U would provide a new opportunity for indie developers, Frozenbyte were first in the queue. After all, they had the perfect product for the fledgling console: a colourful and unique puzzler that's all about experimentation and multiplayer fun. Trine 2 strode onto the online marketplace with brains, accessibility and looks to kill.
Not content to just retread old ground, Frozenbyte went all-out to create a definitive version of their physics based puzzle-platformer. The graphics have been smartened up and smoothed out, equivalent to the PC version at near-maximum settings. The Goblin Menace DLC is included as standard, with its levels carefully inserted into the storyline rather than standing alone. Online multiplayer, a feature absent from any previous version, is now present and correct.
Otherwise it's business as usual. Which is to say that Trine 2 is as brilliant as ever, despite Gamepad functionality that delights and confounds in equal measure.
We've already awarded Trine 2 a deserved 9/10 in our in-depth PC version review, so I'll keep the gameplay description to a minimum. Suffice to say that players are thrown into a gorgeous 2.5D fantasy world, switching instantly between three unique characters to solve a selection of truly open-ended puzzles. The wizard can summon boxes and planks to create makeshift structures, or telekinetically move scenery elements to advantage. The Rogue can swing around with a grappel or bring a powerful bow to bear. Though combat (typically against Goblins) can still be a simplistic chore, and appears to only have been put in to give the Knight something to do, it's still a refreshingly since each distinct obstacle can be approached in a myriad of different ways.
Finding exciting new solutions to solve problems has rarely been more fun, nor rewarding thanks to cunningly-placed experience phials that gradually let us unlock new skills - and yet more ways to get stuck into each solutions. On the flip-side, a year of perspective has made us wonder whether it's just a little too easy to randomly (or even accidentally) bludgeon one's way through many of the puzzles without much in the way of brainpower.
We already know all that. So, what's new?
As mentioned, the Director's Cut is handily Trine 2's best-looking console version. It's utterly gorgeous, the kind of slobber-inducing eye candy that comes from both exquisite detail, smooth performance and sensational art direction. It's noticeably crisper than both the Xbox 360 or PS3 version, exhibiting no screen tearing whatsoever. My only gripe would be the lack of 60 FPS compared to the PC original, and the fact that the colours seem to be markedly less vibrant; lending a slightly 'washed out' vibe to the proceedings if stacked up next to one of its predecessors.
In fact, it's easily the most attractive game on the Wii U thus far, making even New Super Mario Bros. U look a bit bland and boring.
The extra Goblin Menace DLC levels are well-designed, contain some interesting new challenges and fit perfectly into the existing narrative; indeed, you wouldn't know that they were developed after the fact. Online multiplayer also works well - and if you have any trouble finding a game, be sure to get on MiiVerse to rope in some recruits. The Wii U's social hub happens to be a great place to share clever puzzle solutions too (be sure to tag as a spoiler, mind).
In terms of controls, you're free to wield the Pro Controller or a WiiMote, but they both feel much less intuitive and comfortable than a mouse/keyboard setup. Delicate positioning and aiming never quite comes together on a traditional joypad, which is where the Wii U's Gamepad should have come into its own.
It nearly does, in fairness.
Real-time game footage is automatically streamed to the Gamepad's touchscreen, allowing players to precisely place objects and interact directly with the world. You can aim an arrow with a single touch. Throw a hammer. Summon a box into existence. Four out of five times you use it, you'll find it to work well, but the cramped space can lead to some infuriating complications. It's all too easily to accidentally create a plank or box instead of moving an existing object, while you'll frequently find yourself swapping characters because you've accidentally nudged the on-screen portraits.
There's also the small matter of having to constantly peer into a 6.2 inch LCD screen when there's a ruddy great television sitting opposite you.
Still, for £13.99, it's impossible to complain. Unless you've already sampled the joys of Trine 2, it's difficult not to recommend the Director's Cut to new Wii U adopters.
- A lengthy selection of clever open-ended puzzles
- Utterly gorgeous
- Extra levels and new online multiplayer make for fantastic value
- Gamepad touchscreen controls sometimes feel infuriatingly inaccurate
- Combat is still a chore, Knight doesn't quite earn his keep
- Puzzles can sometimes be beaten too easily or accidentally
The Short Version: Trine 2: Director's Cut is probably the best-looking game on the Wii U, and one of the most fun to boot. Gamepad functionality impresses despite the occasional hiccup, making Frozenbyte's puzzler a sure-fire hit if you bought the new console over Christmas.
Make sure you've got enough room in your flash memory, mind...