For the uninitiated Trine is a series of puzzle platform games developed by Finnish developer Frozenbyte; who also developed the Shadowgrounds series. The first Trine was released in 2009 to really positive reviews while it follow up Trine 2 was released two years later in 2011 and received an even more overwhelmingly positive reception. After taking a break the franchise returned four years later with Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power which upon released was meet with a rather large ‘Meh’ with most citing it’s incredibly short length making it almost pointless to play to which the VP of Frozenbyte countered saying that to increase the length of the game would have cost an additional 15 million which they didn’t have. Now here we are, another four years later with the newest entry into the series, but have the devs learned from their last mistake?
In the Trine series you control three characters which you can switch between at any time; a thief, a wizard and a knight. Each of the characters have their own abilities, play style and leveling up paths which allows different puzzles and platforming sections to be completed in multiple ways. You have a wizard who can levitate and conjure objects, the thief possess a bow and arrow and the knight tends to lean towards brute strength. Each character can use these skills at any time to complete the levels through puzzle solving, platforming and combat which means that there are multiple ways to complete each level. Them levels though, they sure do feel long, I mean they look great with a beautiful coloured art style but their length. Ok their length probably isn’t too bad their is just very little personality going on with the characters or narration, its very very flat in a baby’s first fairy tale way and it makes it all drag.
Being both a puzzle and platform game there are two incredibly crucial elements that Trine 4 needs to nail in order for it to be a success; both the puzzle and platforming sections. How do these elements fare I hear you asking, well I am pleased to report that both are pretty good. 45% of your time in The Nightmare Prince will be spent platforming, climbing, jumping, dashing and collecting you know the aim of the game when it comes to platforming, controls are key. Controls within the game for the most part work incredibly well, jumping is nice and direct with very little float to it and there isn’t too much sliding momentum meaning you can move pretty precisely without cheap deaths. The controls themselves however aren’t 100% as it all felt a little too sensitive often leaving me jumping further than I wanted or attaching ropes to the wrong places or at its worst completely resetting puzzles midway through, but its all just a minor gripe.
Another 45% of the time in the game is spent solving puzzles which all work logically and are never really too taxing, but there is a hint system which can be set to go off after so many minutes of not figuring a puzzle out. I left it on the default setting at 6 minutes and it didn’t go off once during my play through. Trine tries to pride itself on the multiple ways to get through levels in particular with it’s puzzles, or at least it does at the beginning until it segways into more complex lengthier puzzles requiring the use of all team members. Your wizard will help you avoid obstacles and create platforms, the thief will connect ropes to pull on doors and shelves while also possessing the ability to freeze moving platforms in place which leaves the knight to ram into things or use his shield to block projectiles. As for the puzzles themselves… again they all work and are logically done but there were only a few times where I was left thinking “Wow that was clever.” as pretty much every puzzle is just a variation on the first tutorial puzzle you do which lead to it all feeling incredibly bland and repetitive even when slightly new dynamics slowly get introduced for a level.
Right now I know exactly what you are thinking, 45+45 only equals 90 what about the other 10? Well firstly, well done, top effort and a gold star goes to you for knowing math. Secondly the answer to your question is combat! I put an exclamation mark there to show emphases and create excitement which was really a mistake on my part as combat is the weakest element in the game. Combat takes place randomly throughout the levels in little sectioned off arenas where you will be confronted with the same 2-4 enemies at a time which can be dealt with in a single hit. I found myself groaning when these moments occurred as not only where they boringly pointless but put speed bumps in what feel like incredibly long levels.
What does all this mean? Honestly I’m not quite sure. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince as a platformer is fun, jumping around and solving puzzles is fun when the momentum allows it and continually carries it forward. The rest of the game around that core however works against taking what could be a fun lighthearted dash through a beautiful storybook fantasy world and turns into a dull drawn out game. There you have it, there is a lot to like about Trine 4 and being able to play it here and there may help break down some of the monotonous aspects that drag it down.
Zombie played a review copy of Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince on the Nintendo Switch.