by Marko Susimetsä
reviewed on PC
The Heroes of Trine Return
Over the past decade, the Trine series has become a legend amongst multiplayer puzzle game enthusiasts. Not only are the puzzles imaginative, the characters lovable and the controls intuitive: it is also one of the most beautiful game series I’ve played and every installment just keeps making it prettier.
The first game was released in 2009, the second in 2011 and the third in 2015. However, after the less than enthusiastic reception of Trine 3, many feared that it would end up being the last of the series. Whereas I personally liked the new 3D approach to gameplay, I agree with the critics who said that the game was just much too short. But FrozenByte is back and they take the Trine series back to where it shines: 2.5D gameplay.
Story and Characters
The story is as simple (perhaps even simpler) than ever: Zoya the Thief, Amadeus the Wizard and Pontius the Knight are tasked to find and retrieve young Prince Selius. The prince has managed to get himself in trouble with his nightmares after reading a book of magic that he should not have. Our trio of heroes travel through beautiful landscapes, encountering horrors brought up by the darkest recesses of the prince’s mind - and it does not take them long to realise that they will have to face their own fears and nightmares as well.
As in previous installments, Zoya carries a bow and a grappling hook that she can use to hook onto various items. However, whereas in previous installments she could attach the hook to wooden surfaces, this time it is restricted to items conjured up by Amadeus and occasional metal hoops in the environment. Amadeus’ magics are also familiar: he still cannot do fire spells, but is as skillful as ever in conjuring up boxes, balls and planks - with a new introduction of a more or less useful bouncy ball. Pontius the Knight is the muscle of the team, most useful when there are monsters or flimsy walls to bash down. His skill tree also includes the kite shield introduced in Trine 3.
New Types of Puzzles
Even though the general gameplay has remained more or less the same, each incarnation of the Trine series has made some changes to the types and nature of puzzles that need solving along the characters’ journey. Adding to the good old platforms on hinges, deadly chasms, fireball-shooting flowers etc. some of the newer forms of puzzles play with light - you occasionally need to direct beams of light with the help of mirrors and Pontius’ highly polished shield in order to hit certain targets that open up a path ahead of you. In addition, the puzzles are matched by the size of the party: when you are playing single-player, the puzzles as solvable by switching between characters, but with two or more players, the puzzles require cooperation between multiple characters. And, of course, there’s almost always more than one way to solve them, which makes for entertaining gameplay.
The enemy creatures include spirit wolves and other nightmarish creatures, such as ice and fire spiders. They don’t offer too much of a difficulty as long as you pay attention to their number and type and don’t just run and bash them as soon as you see them. For example, there’s a mage-like creature that can conjure up a shield to protect another enemy - you’ll need to kill the mage first in order to get to the other one. And, naturally, using fire arrows against a fire creature will likely not end well for you, while ice arrows will work wonders.
Discrepancies and Bugs
One of the few complaints that I have are related to the magic system: sometimes the boxes and balls conjured up by Amadeus simply vanish, as if dispelled by the Wizard himself. At one point, you will earn the skill to conjure up two items simultaneously, but this does not seem to hold true when there are two Amadeuses in the game: only one of them can conjure up two items while the other is left with one.
Another complaint is related to the controls. Over a week of playing, we never quite tracked down the proper way to join a game or pause it: seemingly the only reliable way to join was for both players to simultaneously press the Start buttons on their controllers. But only the 1st Player can pause the game / enter the menu through the same button - if the 2nd Player presses the Start button they will simply drop out of the game. It would be better to have all the controllers working the same way and have the “Drop Out” option simply as a choice in the pop-up menu.
Hopefully, these problems will soon be patched and/or the intended functions made clearer.
Overall, there’s nothing bad to say about the game as long as your only wish from the series was for more of the same goodness as you had in Trine 1 and Trine 2. Although I feel that I’d like to have learned more about our trio of heroes - how are Amadeus’ triplets turning out, for example? - it is the gameplay, puzzles and atmosphere that drives these games forward. And Trine 4 certainly delivers in that regard! There’s a lot of fun to be had here, especially in the co-op mode, and I cannot recommend it too much.
Back to 2.5D gameplay, wonderful graphics, great gameplay and lovable characters.
Some discrepancies with controls, possible bugs or lack of clarity in how Amadeus’ magic sometimes works.