Trine 2: Goblin Menace is an expansion to the popular side-scrolling indie game, Trine 2. Set in a world of fantasy, you’ll run into glowing mushrooms, annoying goblins, strange beasts, beautifully colored scenery, lost lands, and music that matches the atmosphere. Playing Trine feels like entering a fairy tale, something that you’d hear as a bedtime story, but doesn’t come off as childish in any way. The Goblin Menace is a little different; it keeps the same mechanics as Trine 2 but accommodates harder puzzles, a less interesting story, and the feel of an expansion.
If you need some backstory, the first Trine began with three heroes wandering on their own paths until they came across an artifact called the Trine. They all touched the Trine, and their souls became bound to each other, allowing the player to control the different abilities and powers of each character. There’s a Knight, a Thief, and a Wizard, named Pontius, Zoya, and Amadeus respectively. Together they save the fallen kingdom from a strange evil that caused the dead to rise. The enemies were mostly Skeletons, with the main bulk of the levels set to solving puzzles rather than fighting.
Trine 2 followed the same style as the first game, though improvements to the controls, graphics, sound, clever puzzles, and a cooperative multiplayer mode made it better in every way. The story didn’t feel as fantasy driven as the original; you save a princess (and as a result, the forest) from her evil sister. Still, Trine 2 did not need a lot of depth or backstory to tell a classic make-believe tale.
Can you thwart the scheming goblins who took your grumpy wife and stuffed her in a sack?
The Goblin Menace expansion finds the three heroes chasing after the Wizard’s wife, who was kidnapped by goblins during their onslaught on the town. I wasn’t nearly as interested in this story as I was in first two Trine games, which meant the driving force to continue playing was to see what new puzzles and scenery awaited me.
The Knight, the Thief, and the Wizard have different abilities to aid the player throughout the levels, whether it’s solving puzzles or fighting goblins. The Knight uses his sword to hack away the adversaries and raises his shield to block attacks, acid, and lava. The Thief draws her bow and arrow to defeat enemies from afar and grapples to get around tricky parts of the level or even skip entire puzzles. The Wizard summons his magic to make boxes, planks, and move objects in the environment, meaning he’s chiefly used to solve puzzles rather than to fight.
Scattered throughout the game are experience orbs and vials that you collect to advance your level. These were placed inconveniently in Goblin Menace, meaning they were harder to get to than in Trine 2, which lengthens the stages if you decide to grab them all. When you gain a level, you earn a skill point that you spend in different skills for each character. Whether it’s the ability to place more boxes, fire explosive arrows, or swing a flaming sword, they are all useful and should be employed throughout any playthrough. If you don’t have enough levels to buy all the upgrades, you’ll probably find yourself refunding the skill points and reassigning them to fit your current situation. Goblin Menace adds six new skills, all of which are more fun to play with instead of being particularly valuable.
Some puzzles in Goblin Menace are frustrating, but they evoke that “OH!” feeling when you finally solve them. These diabolical enigmas stretch the playtime of the expansion and give you a greater sense of accomplishment than in the previous Trine games. I have to recommend not using a walkthrough to get through the different challenges, unless you absolutely cannot figure it out after an hour of trying.
Taken directly from the game, as are all of the pictures in this review. The desert is a new environment for Trine.
Being a side-scroller, Trine has “layers” of scenery. By layers, I mean the foreground, middle-ground, and background. The foreground contains plants, structures, cave formations, skulking enemies, and other fantasy elements. The tangible middle-ground provides interactions with the enemies and the puzzles . The background holds the mystery of the levels, revealing verdant hills, quaint cottages, and gushing waterfalls, or broken buildings, weathered statues, and crumbling stonework. All this comes together to create beautiful level designs, with help entirely from the colorful graphics and vastly different environments.
Throughout the expansion you’ll explore a town under siege, a vast desert, the slimy stomach of a gigantic worm, and a series of caves and cloud islands. Each level displays its own unique design, and some really make you wonder how the developers managed to layer the stages so well. The levels are mysterious, hectic, but also tranquil. You’ll come across stunningly gorgeous sections that make you want to sit and stare until the rest of the game calls you forward.
From the moment you start up Trine 2, you hear a song that gives a great idea as to what the awaiting experience will be. Each level emits its own theme matched perfectly by the composer. The desert burns with classic Arabic sounds, the airborne cloud islands beams with lofty music, and the belly of a beast drips with a sort of scummy composure. Throw in the awesome voice acting and crisp action sounds, and you may forget you’re playing a game (if not for the slight mistakes).
One of the many unlockable paintings you can find throughout the expansion.
The controls remain a very important part of any side-scroller. Bad controls will make or break the game, and Trine has always felt in-between; they aren’t perfect, and they aren’t horrible. But sometimes it feels like controlling your characters could have been vastly improved. You’ll slip and slide along surfaces and slopes you swear you should be able to climb; you’ll miss a ledge by half an inch and fall off because there was a nick you didn’t notice; and you’ll miss a hit with your sword because the enemy somehow managed to slip an attack a split second before you sent yours. The controls are incredibly easy to learn, and most of the time they are spot-on, but you will notice improvements that need to be made.
The Goblin Menace expansion also tries a new style of cutscenes, at least new to the Trine series. Before, the only story advancement was made through a narrator at the beginning of the level and some dialogue from the characters. This still exists in Goblin Menace, but you’ll see the characters and goblins speaking with poorly animated movements and lip-syncing. It took away from the overall polish of Trine and felt unnecessary. Though not entirely bad, I still wish it wasn’t there.
There isn’t much to say about the multiplayer experience other than Trine 2 and Goblin Menace are a lot more fun to play with another person. You may joke around, have a good time, and navigate through puzzles without actually solving them. With an extra pair of eyes, multiplayer remains a great way to hunt down the two hidden chests per level, which unlock awesome-looking paintings, interesting poems, and strange puzzle pieces.
It's hard to pin down exactly what makes Trine 2's expansion great. It definitely has its issues, but the experience helps you forget about them. From the gorgeous color-bursting graphics to the fairy-tale story, this is one of the few games that had me wondering if I'd stepped through my computer monitor and into a make-believe world. There’s always something fresh to see, and every level appears to be the start of a new adventure. It seems like I’m writing a review of Trine 2 at times, and that’s because Goblin Menace only includes six additional levels, a fresh set of skills, and a vain attempt at cutscenes. Yet Goblin Menace contains exactly what any decent expansion should: more of the base game. And that's all any Trine fan needs to know.
Release Date: September 6, 2012
Number of Players: 1 (Campaign), 2-3 (Cooperative)
Platforms: PC (Reviewed)