First Impressions: Trine 2: Director's Cut

Triple trouble

Three: it's the magic number. It's also the number of playable characters in Trine 2: Director's Cut, a 2D puzzle platformer that sees you regularly switching between a mismatched trio of varying skillsets to traverse beautiful lands.

The wizard Amadeus commands bridges and blocks with the tips of his wizened fingers, either levitating present obstacles or wishing new ones into existence at will. Zoya the thief has a sideline in archery and is proficient with a grappling hook. Pontius, a fearsome knight with a not-so-fearsome name, is the brute force, bulky and slow but perfect for battle thanks to a vicious axe hand and a shield that can repel many an attack.

It's essential to keep swapping characters due to the ever-changing environments, and putting a character in the backseat after they've taken damage also lets them heal. There's also a co-operative mode for up to three players, which eradicates that switching in favour of team work, though that wasn't on show in our demo.

Wii U lends itself well to Trine 2's control set up. Weapons and abilities are controlled by swiping, tapping or drawing on the GamePad's touch screen: a bridge can be lowered by sketching a line to the required length, a grapple or arrow aimed precisely with a touch. Actions that needed more than a tap felt sticky upon first play, however, especially anything to do with bridges.

This improved over the course of the demo and it felt better when swiping to charge forward with the knight, or dragging around the cursor to aim his shield, but we'd have to experiment with the full game to see if it's going to pose any significant problems; it could just be a case of a learning curve as you work out how best to use it. Traditional stick and buttons controls are available too.

The doubled-up view also required some adjustment. The urge is to pay tribute to the truly gorgeous visuals, each scene seemingly orchestrated to outdo the last, and watch them in all their glory on the television, but when using touch controls this becomes confusing. It's easier to keep your eyes on the GamePad screen so that you can keep track of your direct control at all times. A cursor is shown on the TV, so with practice you probably could play without looking down so much; that's another 'wait and see'.

Most of the demonstration had us platforming, flicking between the characters often to clamber over several types of perils: the wizard to tame a gaping spike pit with a handy block of wood, the thief to shoot a button or swing across an abyss. There was also a taste of the trickery ahead — the platforming paused for a light-based puzzle, in which a sun beam had to be directed into a sensor to open a door. The demo was crested by a battle sequence where the knight could show off his full worth by shattering an army of undead skeletons.

With Trine 2 on PSN and other formats already, Frozenbyte promises enough new content to make this Wii U version's shiny new subtitle worthwhile. A new multiplayer mode, Magic Mayhem, is in the works, though there aren't any new details at this time. Four player co-op – one GamePad, three Wii Remotes – is in too, and its upcoming expansion pack, The Goblin Menace, will only be available on PC and Wii U.

How well Trine 2: Director's Cut translates to Wii U ultimately remains to be seen, but judging by how well received it was on other formats there's a lot to look forward to. The touch controls took some practice, but there's time for that to be sorted out before it graces Wii U's eShop later this year.

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