September 12, 2015

Trine 3 Artifacts of Power - Review

Frozenbyte might not be a developer you know by name, but their long running Trine series is one that has garnered a lot of support for its use of amazing physics based puzzles and stunning visuals, with Trine 3 they have shaken up the existing formula, but the results are less than stellar.

The story of Trine 3 starts off almost the same as the others, with the three heroes off doing their own thing, before the Trine comes to collect them. It seems that the magic academy is being attacked but a giant creature and while the magic casters of the academy are doing a valiant effort at slowing down the creature, but they are not able to stop it completely. When the heroes arrive and defeat it, a large purple, ominous cloud emerges from the creature and heads off to the academies higher places. Upon making their way there, the heroes decide that they have had enough of being summoned against their will by Trine and attempt to return the abilities they were granted by it, this causes the Trine to explode and the purple cloud is revealed to be a bag guy. As the heroes get to the top of the tower, the villain is revealed.

While the story of Trine 3 is nothing special it is a fun one to go through, each of the characters has their own thoughts on what is happening around them, with the banter between them being fun and insightful. The gameplay of the Trine series has always revolved around swapping between the three heroes on the fly and solving puzzles in order to proceed, the issue with Trine 3 is that the game world has swapped to a 3d space, as opposed to the previous games in 2d but the game was not able to adjust fully with it. Each of the three characters has an ability that the other does not, Pontius the Knight is able to attack and defend, Zoya the theif has a bow for long range attacks and a grappling hook to reach out of place locations and Amadeus the Wizard is able to conjure large objects to help manipulate the world.

Now that the game has evolved into a 3D world, you need to think about how to use their abilities in all new ways, for example, Amadeus summons the boxes above his head, but if you want to move them around the screen, you click and drag with the mouse, but it move it down or up screen, you need to use the scroll wheel. Zoya fairs slightly better with her movements in the 3rd dimension, but being able to get her to swing from her grappling hook can take some practice to get right. Pontius, is the only one who can deal damage and defend, which means you will need to use him a lot, the problem is he defends on whichever side the mouse curser is on, so if you have been attacking to one side of the screen, but left the mouse on the other, you will take damage from your exposed side.

The issue with this is the systems are almost identical from the 2d games, which makes sense, the problem is they just don’t work in the 3d space, even the levels struggle with the openness, with my characters constantly overshooting platforms and ledges and falling to their doom. There were times when it was my fault to be sure, but there were times when the characters would just not do what I wanted. The other issue with the game is its length, its actually quite short, much shorter than the other games. You can tell the developers were aware of this as there are items to collect in each stage, glowing triangles, the first few only have around 50 or so but then they skyrocket to 200 on average and you need to collect them because that is the currency that unlocks the stages, so if you ignore them or only collect the ones that are easily accessible, you won’t be able to progress any further. You can explore other levels which will let you earn some more, but they are more of a challenge than the main stages, so they might be too hard for some.

What is easy to understand is just how amazing the game looks, the Trine series has always looked incredible, but now with the world in 3D, the team have taken an incredible leap forward in the look of the world. The first time we meet Amadeus here he is vacationing on the beach and water and sand here are so amazing, I would have loved to have leapt into the world to experience them myself, even later when the trio are exploring dark forests and dingy ruins the worlds still look that good. Even the characters look better now than they have in the past, the cutscenes are all rendered in engine this time as well, which is a nice touch, it keeps everything ploughing along, without any disjointed breaks. The game sounds as well as it looks, the music hits all the right notes, pun intended, with the creatures and the world sounding just as you might think them too. The voice acting is spot on for the three heroes, but the others humans of the world are hit and miss, which detracts from what could have been an impressive audial arrangement.

Trine 3 Artifacts of Power is a strange game, as someone who has played the others I felt compelled to complete it, but about 3 hours in, I realized I was getting close to the end and it caused me to go back and try to 100% every stage. The length of the game is the biggest problem it faces, the characters having the same abilities not working in a 3d space is an issue, but learning how to use them can overcome it, the length is not something that can be ignored. Fans of the series will enjoy experiencing the world and the heroes again, but newcomers might best to look elsewhere for a fantasy adventure hit.

Thanks to Frozenbyte for supplying the game for review

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