With the wholesome appeal of a fairytale, Trine 2 is unapologetically packed with comfortable tropes. Like the first game, it stars a trio of classic fantasy heroes: a merry knight, a sly thief and a nervy wizard. Their adventure bustles them through ye olde tale of rescue the princess — via enchanted forest and murky cavern, wherein they thrash goblins and giant spiders. But out of that conventional premise the game conjures a gorgeous and gratifying platform puzzler.
Trine 2's environments could have been lifted off the screen of a latter-day Fantasia, or from the pages of a particularly lovely storybook. Deep, richly detailed levels pop with lively, luminous colour. The forest is home to luscious glowing foliage and glistening colossal snails. Gloomier levels house oversized spiders, animated with skin-crawling authenticity. One level, taking in sunset on a tropical beach, is stop-and-stare beautiful.
Each hero has a simple, distinct set of powers. The knight has a sword and shield for fighting, as well as a war hammer for smashing obstacles; the thief has a grappling hook, along with a bow and arrow; and the wizard can levitate items and summon boxes or planks from thin air. In single-player mode, only one hero appears onscreen, but you can instantly flip between them to access the powers demanded by the task at hand.
The wizard's conjuring powers make him the best suited for solving a puzzle on your own. While the basic platforming is smooth and accessible with combat that is brisk and straightforward, the heart of the action is physics-based puzzling. At its simplest, this means constructing a ramp from crates, while more complex challenges have you reroute steam jets by hovering segments of pipe into place. In others, you channel water onto the roots of plants that shoot up, like a magic beanstalk, to create leafy new platforms on which to hop. New elements, such as moveable portals, waterwheels and lava streams, come thick and fast, in addition to memorable one-offs, such as a house-sized frog that lassoes giant fruit with its tongue.
Although many of the puzzles suggest single, efficient solutions right off the bat, some of the best fun is to be had experimenting with the physics and looking for less-obvious solutions. Trine 2's physics engine is robust and finetuned, and noodling about with it is engrossing in its own right. The game is generously rigged to allow for the guilty pleasure of fudging a solution when the elegant answer is out of reach; teetering structures of magic planks can be used to bypass clever gate mechanisms altogether, or the same planks can be jammed gracelessly into the gears.