Trine 2 Special Edition Soundtrack :: Review by Don
Ari Pulkkinen, known for his work on Angry Birds, Super Stardust HD, and Trine, returns for the sequel to the latter. For the most part, the Trine 2 soundtrack continues the medieval fantasy sound of its predecessor. The soundtrack release comes in two flavors. The regular edition features 21 tracks and is included in the European collector's edition of the game. The special edition featuring two orchestral renditions not heard on the regular edition and will be available as a digital release through AriTunes. How does the overall soundtrack turn out and is it a worthy follow-up to the original?
The album opens up with the "Trine 2 Main Theme," which has a Renaissance-inspired sound. I really like the harp and woodwind combination, as it manages to convey a very magical atmosphere. As the theme progresses, the instrumentation becomes more lush, incorporating some stringed instruments and some light percussion work before incorporating some moving choral accompaniments and orchestral elements. There is also a storybook version of this theme, continuing the magical atmosphere of the original with its focus on ethereal choral accompaniment and music box soundscape. "The Story Begins" features the main theme motif and provides a very mysterious atmosphere. I really like the cello, woodwind, and harp combination as it gives a bit of an airy feel, but at the same time, there is definitely a hint of darkness or gloominess thanks to the cello sections.
"Thieves Guild" incorporates Renaissance instrumentation to create a theme befitting of a band of themes. Exotic vocal work, an air of mystery, and the incorporation of the main theme motif make for a very satisfying listen. In particular, the melody really shines when the vocal work is incorporated in the second of half of the track. To portray the hero, "The Mighty Warrior Pontius" is featured twice on the album. The first portion of the theme, "The Mighty Warrior Pontius I" is a very epic tune with a definite air of heroism, but at the same time, there is definitely a rustic atmosphere as well thanks to the folk instrumentation. The combination of these instruments with the orchestral and choral tones makes for a great listen. The second version of this theme features many of the same elements, such as choir and percussion, but overall, it feels a bit clunky, in my opinion. Much of the heroic atmosphere is traded in for a quirky folk atmosphere.
There are also a lot of pieces that constitute the majority of the soundtrack, given they are the area themes of the game. The first, "Mudwater Dale," takes the main theme motif and transforms it into a dark and mysterious piece. The sharp brass and choral tones make for a great contrast to the mysterious and ominous strings work. "Waltz of the Temple Forest Elves" features a very enchanting atmosphere with its focus on a waltz tempo and intoxicatingly beautiful strings work that add a sense of intricacy, despite their simple progression. While not the strongest theme on the album, it definitely gives off a wonderful sense of atmosphere. "Mosslight Marsh" has a very ethnic sound almost Middle Eastern in style with its twangy strings work in combination with the more Renaissance sounds. It really works well with the ominous choral chanting, tribal percussion, and orchestral passages. This is one of my favorite area themes on the soundtrack.
Another fantastic area theme is "The Lost Court of the Mushroom Caves." It provides a bit of a regal atmosphere in combination with the Renaissance soundscape and incorporates the main theme motif in a very mysterious, almost hypnotic, way, especially once the operatic style vocals are incorporated into the theme. "Hushing Grove" is a very ominous, atmospheric tune that really manages to give off a very suspenseful and fearful tone. It is, on a standalone listen, harder to listen to, especially for those who look for melody in their music, but does work wonders in the game itself. "Petrified Tree" has a mysterious atmosphere with some sinister tones, particularly in the strings work. Overall, I think it's a good theme with its beautiful combination of woodwind work, providing additional eeriness, harpsichord, and strings work. Similarly, "Shadowed Halls" focuses on these elements, in addition to providing haunting choral work, to create a lasting effect on the listener. "Eldritch Passages" follows a similar tone, focusing more on atmosphere rather than melody, but I do enjoy the ominous strings work quite a bit.
Another of my favorite area themes is, without a doubt, "Searock Castle." I really love the focus on vocal work. It gives it a very Celtic vibe in some ways, and combined with the Renaissance instrumentation, makes for an astounding listen. It conveys an air of regality, but at the same time, there are some subtle sinister tones from time to time, as well as some more romantic passages, particularly when the strings are incorporated into the harmony. "Icewarden Keep," presumably the last area of the game, is another stunning theme. I really like how it gives off that essence of frozenness through its wispful, crystalline synthesizer and piano passages in conjunction with the romantic and moving strings work and vocal work.
Exploring other highlights of the soundtrack, "Goblins!" is a bit of a mysterious theme with an air of playfulness as well with its woodwind focus. "Goblins! Part II" is a bit more sinister and atmosphere and focuses more on percussion elements and dark brass tones. I must commend Ari for his clever title for "Snake, Oh It's a Snake." It instantly reminded me of the infamous "Badger Song" video that is on the internet and is, perhaps, a tongue-in-cheek reference. Fortunately, the music is a bit more heroic and features that Renaissance atmosphere. Although not the most engaging theme, at least to me, I must say that the incorporation of a maraca or something to that effect, to emulate the sound a rattlesnake makes is absolutely genius. "For the Kingdom!" is an epic orchestral track that features some subtle choral work and some ethnic percussion to create a very exhilarating sound. Lastly, "The Giant Dragon," presumably the final battle theme, is a dramatic orchestral piece that incorporates some of the more ethnic influences heard in the soundtrack, particularly in the percussion, with heroic brass tones, ominous strings and choral work. It's one of the most successful themes on the album.
Moving to the special edition exclusives, one of the bonus tracks is an orchestral version of the main theme. While a strong orchestration that manages to capture the atmosphere of the original, I find that some of that magical atmosphere is lost given the lack of more Renaissance type instrumentation. The second bonus track on the special edition of the soundtrack is an orchestrated version of "The Giant Dragon". Unlike the other bonus track, I feel this version accentuates the overall theme, giving it a more ominous approach, while still retaining the small tribal flourishes featured in the original.
While my favorite soundtrack by Ari Pulkkinen is still Super Stardust HD, the Trine 2 soundtrack is highly enjoyable. It is a fitting sequel to the original and in many ways is more successful, but in some regards, a little weaker. While there are a few themes that don't stand out on their own, such as the atmospheric ones, many of the tracks transport the listener into this magical world, particularly in-game. Fans of the original and more medieval inspired music will surely find this one worth a listen. While the regular edition features the bulk of the soundtrack, it's definitely worth purchasing the special edition to hear the bonus orchestral versions.
Overall Score: 8/10