by Marko Susimetsä
reviewed on PC
Ambition and its results
The Trine game series, developed by FrozenByte, has been a jewel of 2D puzzle platformers, combining lovely gameplay with even lovelier graphics and entertaining puzzles. The first two games have received well deserved accolades over the years and we were waiting for the third part in the series with bated breath. And, lo and behold, Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power is finally here and Amadeus, Pontius and Zoya are back to take us through another adventure.
It should be noted that at the time of writing this review, the developers have posted an apology over the shortness of the game. Basically, the game ran over budget and they decided to publish a shorter game with fewer levels and features rather than not release it at all. Unfortunately, they made the mistake of not making this decision public until after the release and have now received some bad rap because of it. It is unfortunate, since what we have in Trine 3 is still very good and one would like to receive more of it one day.
Familiar yet new
The characters are redesigned and feel slightly more cartoony than in earlier games, but their values are still very much the same: Zoya is hunting for treasures, Pontius fights evil and Amadeus would just like to take a holiday with his family.
The characters’ abilities have been redesigned to a large extent, however, and many will say that the changes are too drastic. Zoya still has her bow and grapple hook, Pontius has his sword and shield and Amadeus can conjure a box, but none of the weapons or abilities can be upgraded and there are no skill trees for the characters. Remember how you had to make a choice between the ability to conjure three boxes or stay with two but add the ability to conjure planks as well? None of that is here – Amadeus gets a single box and that’s it. Zoya’s bow is merely a bow – there are no fire or ice upgrades, no invisibility. Pontius doesn’t get his war hammer.
There are, however, some new ways to use the familiar tools. Amadeus can use his box as a battering ram and smash it down forcibly to crush enemies. Pontius can use his kitesail shield to float around, crossing gaps in the ground. He can also charge off the bat, not needing to level up to develop the ability. All of the characters can climb up adjacent surfaces by bouncing between them and jump and hold onto ledges to climb up onto a higher platform.
Still, with all these changes, I must admit that losing the RPG-like level progression is a shame and is especially evident in how you use Amadeus. A single box is rarely that much needed and you tend to rely on Zoya all the more. Not that I’m complaining – she’s always been my favourite.
New kinds of levels
There’s a strong sense of familiarity when you launch the game, even though all the action is now in 3D and the levels offer more freedom of movement than before. For the first few levels, it seems that the 3D level design has cost us some of the beautiful, colourful background graphics and animations that the previous games had, but later levels do manage to attain the familiar level of beauty. The new freedom of movement gives more opportunities for different kinds of puzzles and the beautifully smooth transitions from one area to the next really bring it all to life. There are ledges to shimmy along, gaps to cross, levers to push and pull and even some enemies to bash as you proceed through the levels and you soon realise that the reason the graphical splendour may be somewhat toned down from earlier games is that you’ll be better able to see the features that you need to see.
However, it feels to me as if there’s less development in the complexity of the puzzles and I cannot help but wonder whether this is an artefact of the characters’ and especially Amadeus’ lesser abilities; after all, he can no longer summon as many boxes and has lost the ability to summon floating triangles and planks etc., and all that vastly cuts down the ways puzzles can be solved. There seems to be more focus on quick and precise jumps and less on using your brains to solve the problems. Only the very last levels begin to correct this and are longer and more complex than the early ones.
Another change from the previous games is the way you progress through the levels. You begin the game and move between the levels in a sort of a Hub area, where you’ll find that each level has a cost in “triangles”. These triangles can be collected when playing the levels and many of them are hidden behind puzzles of their own. At some points, you may find that you have to go back and collect more triangles from earlier levels in order to proceed to the next level. Some of the levels are also “smaller” single character levels, meaning that you have to play through them using only one of the characters. In two-player mode this means that both players play as the same character.
More Trine!, smooth gameplay, pretty
Lack of skill trees, more precision-jumping, no split-screen