It’s been just over a decade since the Trine series made its debut, and it does the heart good to see this series continue on. A 2.5D Action RPG game with a healthy amount of puzzle solving, platforming and lovely scenery, helped by three likable main characters that take any challenge thrown at them. After a stumble with Trine 3 with a short story and foray into 3D, Trine 4: The Nightmare Price is a great recovery. Trine fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief!
The Prince Selius has escaped from his home and is unintentionally letting Nightmare creatures run amok. The heroes of the Trine have been summoned to find him and bring him back to the Astral Academy to contain his erratic magic. Actually getting him there might be another matter, the three heroes of the Trine have got their work cut out for them. The Prince has no interest in going back, and along the way it seems like there’s more to it than the Astral Academy is letting on. Can the three heroes face their own nightmares and save the Nightmare Prince?
As with previous Trine games, you take control of Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight and Zoya the Thief. Amadeus is an expert at conjuring crates and levitating objects, Zoya is handy with a bow and arrow while zipping around with a grappling hook, and Pontius is the big guy with a sword, shield and a good heart.
There are two quite different ways of controlling the heroes. In solo, you can switch freely between each hero. In multiplayer, each player has control of one character. You all have to work together to progress, as puzzles and progression involves abilities of more than one character. There is no disadvantage to playing through solo, hitting the shoulder buttons cycles between the heroes and there’s no issues making their powers work together. Multiplayer makes progressing a bit more difficult. Instead of controlling who you want for the ability, you need to coordinate with others and not all the heroes are involved with each puzzle. Multiplayer can result in some pretty wild workarounds to getting through some puzzles, and you can muck around with all three characters abilities at once and have some fun.
Returning to 2.5D action RPG and to a degree a platformer too, After over a decade of Trine games it’s a very familiar feeling leaping back into the fourth entry. As the story progresses and you gain experience from combat, you unlock more abilities for each hero. Don’t worry though as combat is always at set points so you’ll never find yourself not being able to use an ability because you didn’t fight enough. They unlock precisely when you need them, although you’ll always need to utilise all of your abilities to find every single collectable. Most notably there are potions strewn throughout each level to collect, they go towards being able to unlock extra abilities. If you’re an obsessive item collector like me then you’ll always have enough points to upgrade the abilities, and while they can be useful, they aren’t necessary.
While the puzzles and platforming feels as good as it ever did, I don’t remember the combat being as rough as it can be in Trine 4. You become enclosed within the one screen where nightmare creatures will emerge, dealing with a range of enemies between close quarter combat and ranged attacks. Initially your offensive capabilities are very limited, and only Pontius seems to be able to survive a series of attacks. Over time the whole team becomes more capable of handling these fights. You can even get creative by combining some of the abilities with environmental hazards like spikes. While it feels better as you progress, it's a really rough start. Especially when early on there’s some enemies that bombard you with explosives with a big blast radius. When you’re not fighting, it highlights how the game could work just as well without the combat sequences and focus on the platforming and puzzles. The puzzles will come down to how much you enjoy certain kinds of puzzles. Personally I get frustrated quickly with light reflection puzzles, but then I love physics-based puzzles and poking at other puzzles to find unexpected ways around them. No types of puzzles ever feel like they outstay their welcome and if there is a type you’re not fond of, a new one is around the corner.
The Trine series has always been notable for its beautiful visuals, and Trine 4 has still got it. In the opening scene there is a brief second of texture pop in that had me worried, but those fears were for nothing as the remainder of the game after that split second looks amazing. Developers Frozenbyte manage to always make a night sky look so lovely, along with a fair range of differing fantastical scenery as you chase the Prince. Even better is that there aren’t any real performance issues. The frame rate can have a few short hiccups when there’s alot going on or when combat sequences begin, but they’re often not noticeable unless you’re looking for them and they never affect gameplay. Given how many moving parts some of the physics puzzles can have, I’m pretty chuffed that it runs so well while looking so nice.
Not only does it looks nice and runs well, it also sounds good too! Terry Wilton returns as the narrator describing the heroes progress. I could happily listen to much more bantering between the heroes themselves, a combination of the fun voices given to the characters and the fact they make a great team. Given that the character models only convey so much, it falls upon the dialogue to help add that personality. The music manages to capture that fantastical grand adventure setting well, series composer Ari Pulkkinenhas has done a great job again.
There’s plenty of options to help customise the game, including settings that make it easier to see characters and read text in the handheld mode. While I didn’t need to mess around with much, it’s always good to make it easier for people to access the game.
After Trine 3 I never expected that there would be a fourth one, but I’m happy that there is and that it turned out so well. If you enjoyed the first two games (and even the third), this is a must buy. It’s a return to form and now that I’ve completed it I eagerly await Trine 5.
Review code provided by Modus Games