Once upon a time, there was a wizard, a knight, and a thief, and they had many grand adventures together in search of a mystical artefact called the Trine. Then they found it and saved the kingdom and lived happily ever after, until…

Once upon this other time, the wizard, knight, and thief were brought together again by the Trine, and magicked off into another kingdom in desperate need of saving. Hero business, it’s always pretty much the same thing, just different sequels.

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Trine 2 might well be the most beautiful game ever made, though. I mean, it’s quite simply amazing, and in the original, unadulterated by dreary pop culture “Omg, it’s, like, totally, like, amazing” sense of the word. This game is like a kind of narcotic reverie, its smudged and saturated pinks and greens and blues and pumpkins and fireflies the work of some eccentric alchemist tripped out on neon fantasy kitsch.

For those of you who – like me – missed the first game for one reason or another [being a terrible person is not a “reason”, ed], the concept is fundamentally somewhat similar to The Lost Vikings. If you didn’t play that, then basically, you have three characters with different abilities, and you use these in combination (often variably) to navigate a series of implausibly complex environments.

Amadeus the wizard can conjure up boxes and planks, which he can also levitate; Pontius the knight has a shield and two melee weapons, one of which can break some obstacles; and Zoya the thief has a grapple and bow. Each character also has a bunch of upgrades, that you can unlock by snaffling glowy blue orbs and bottles liberally distributed around the stages. It’s all quite simple, elegant, and straightforward.

Not so much the game, though. It gets going easily enough, but quickly becomes immensely clever and increasingly devious, especially if you’re determined to collect all the upgrade thingums. Honestly, there was one that took us over an hour to work out, and two we had to reluctantly abandon after more or less recreating that scene with the monkeys and the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey several times over.

Speaking of “us” and “we”, this is a game that’s heaps better in co-op. Instead of having to constantly swap, one at a time, between characters to solve puzzles, you and up to two other players can interact with one another, which makes for a whole new category of zany ingenuity and a lot of giggling. With options for both online and local co-op, Trine 2 can finally replace Castle Crashers in your party list.

What’s perhaps most remarkable is the tremendous scope for creativity, particularly in co-op. I frequently had the impression that we’d solved a puzzle in a way unintended, maybe even entirely unimagined, by the developers – but it was still allowed. This sort of flexibility, you’ll suddenly realise, is really quite unusual in a gaming generation predominated by corridor-based shooters and superficial choices. So that’s nice too.

Or click here for Tarryn’s real bottom line, as divulged in a Google chat.

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