There are quite a lot that we grow up with and hold dear to our heart. One game almost every one of us had played back in the day was Mario. The 8-bit game put one in the shoes of the iconic Italian plumber Mario, who went on an adventure to save Princess Peach and take down enemies in 2 dimensions. Mario’s popularity eventually led to the popularity of the genre, which came to be known as ‘platformers’. In 2019, you have some pretty decent platformers to pick and choose from, with one of the most unique one being the Trine series. If you’re one who loves a hefty dose of puzzles with platforming, then Trine is something that should already be resting in your Steam library.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is the fourth instalment of the popular puzzle platformer made by Frozenbyte and published by Modus Games. The game came out on October 8 on the PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Story and Writing
Trine 4 puts together the beloved protagonists of the Trine series and weaves together another enchanting tale in the magical world of the Trine. The trio – Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight and Zoya the Thief – are back to save the day! This time they are invited by the Astral Academy – basically the College of Winterhold without the political strife (sorry Todd Howard) – to rescue Prince Salius from his all-consuming nightmare and force him to come back. Prince Salius had a keen interest in learning magic, though none of the wizards dared to teach him because of his mental instability. One fine night, he discovers an enchanted tome which allows all of the creatures in his nightmares – primarily satyrs, wolves, and spiders – to manifest in the real world. It’s up to the three champions of the Trine to rescue the prince and put an end to the madness once and for all.
The story follows the style of a youngin’s adventure storybook, like the tales we used to hear and read in our childhood. The storytelling of Trine iconic and is one of the reasons players keep coming back for more, and Trine 4 doesn’t disappoint in any way. Sadly, some words spoken by the heroes sound quite odd – especially some cheesy jokes which are liked made to ensure the player stays enthralled – and takes away some of the depth of the storytelling of the narrator. Other than that, Frozenbyte did a pretty fine job on the writing.
Trine is a franchise that has been built on the basis of co-op. All games since Trine 2 features multiplayer coop, including Trine 4. Multiplayer co-op is the focus of Trine 4 instead of being a tagged-on feature. At the start of every game, players are prompted whether to make a new session or join an existing session for multiplayer or go for singleplayer. The game supports local multiplayer too, which is a big thing considering local coop is considered to be a relic of a bygone era by now.
While the game is definitely playable and has a story worth completing in singleplayer, co-op is where the real fun is. The game supports up to 4 players every session, and it can get messy when you’re solving puzzles at once (yeah, too many cooks spoil the broth) – even though players are sure to have a ton of fun in the process.
Trine 4 does a lot of stuff differently from old Trine games. Like before, the game has three useful tutorial stages that explain the various abilities of our heroes and where to use them. This is important since Amadeus, Pontius and Zoya have slightly different abilities in Trine 4, though fan favorites like conjuring blocks out of thin air and latching on to surfaces with a rope continue to be a part of the game. The tutorials also lay the foundation for the storyline, making all of our heroes come together when they are summoned by the Astral Academy to embark on the noble quest of saving the prince.
Trine 4 builds upon abilities with experience earned in battle rather than traveling from one checkpoint to another. Each hero starts with a few unique abilities of their own, and gradually gets enough XP to unlock more abilities which makes solving puzzles and traversal through the world much easier. The ability progression system is richly detailed and is much longer in size. Progression is well-paced to allow players to catch up with the new abilities without forgetting about the older ones (if you stop playing the game and decide to come back after a while, this can be an issue). Each hero scales up on their own, only requiring unlocks for improvements to their existing abilities. This is done with the help of the Elixir (the purple goo-ey collectible in the game?).
In terms of difficulty, puzzles in Trine 4 scale gradually. You are likely to find the odd puzzle that seems like a tough nut to crack in the middle of the stage but other than that the difficulty scaled almost evenly. This is a huge improvement over Trine 2 (and to some extent, even Trine 3) which had abrupt changes in the difficulty of puzzles. This mostly happens because the puzzles require the abilities of the heroes to be solved, and each hero scales up on their own and unlocks major abilities gradually without needing them to be unlocked separately. This does reduce the difficulty of the game a lot and makes it accessible for newcomers to the franchise. (Of course, there will be people going “Boohoo!” over this). Some puzzles can be solved with the abilities of one hero, while others require the chaining together of multiple abilities to get access to some thoughtfully hidden chambers.
There isn’t a focus on Amadeus, Zoya or Pontius alone, but on the trio as a whole – something previous entries in the franchise failed to do. Moreover, the game has the added advantage of allowing you to highlight movable objects as Amadeus, which is an extremely useful feature, to say the least.
The best part of Trine 4 is perhaps the increased focus on combat. Previous Trine games were mostly about puzzle-solving and involved very less combat. The prince’s nightmares are brought to life occasionally, requiring our brave heroes to fight them off with what they have. Mostly you would be using our brave knight Ser Pontius to fight off the wolves and spiders (and demons? Satyrs? Some mythical creatures shooting arrows, anyways). Zoya’s trusty bow is also useful (and certainly more trustworthy than she is herself). With some ability improvements, even Amadeus is able to conjure spheres and spheres and drop them on enemies to get rid of them or teleport enemies to some other location using his magical powers.
Enemies do real damage, so it’s necessary to watch the health gauge – if it drops to zero, the hero you’re controlling dies. Death is not the end, and the ghost of the dead hero linger about before they are revived by the others, following which there is a small wait until the hero becomes ready to use again. This way of ‘reviving’ the spirits of the heroes because they are connected to the Trine and have divine powers seems much better than magically resurrecting them at each checkpoint (which doesn’t make sense but has to be done for plot convenience).
One of the best aspects of the game is the boss stages. There are quite a few boss stages which are puzzles that require some spontaneity to be solved. The first boss comes in Pontius’ tutorial and requires his ability to reflect light to successfully be beaten. (Ooooh…….SPOILER ALERT!)
Bosses scale in difficulty dynamically just like puzzles, which justifies clubbing them under one roof. Boss stages are some of the more challenging stages of the game, though they are still too easy to fit the taste of fans of the franchise.
Sounds and Music
The game features the iconic Trine music which people know and love. Some parts of a franchise need very minor modifications or no changes at all for them to shine at their full potential, and Trine’s music is certainly one of its strong points (though some may not like the pace of the music). The game’s ambient music during combat scenes is something that people particularly look forward to – and due to the increased focus on combat, you get to hear it a bit more often!
Visuals and Performance
Trine 4 is a 2.5 D platformer. In other words, the game gives a ‘fake’ feeling of 3D in quite a few objects that are rendered on the screen. This is what makes all Trine games feel different from other platformers. Most fans of the franchise were attracted by the puzzles and stayed on because of the vibrant visuals. Most environments in the game have been designed painstakingly with precision, and it shows.
The game has been tested on :-
CPU: Ryzen 5 2600
GPU : GTX 1080
RAM: 16 GB DDR4
The game did not seem to have any sort of performance issues and ran at a constant framerate without drops. The game does have a few bugs here especially with the new rolling animation introduced in Trine 4 and its ‘collision’ with other objects in the game world. Other than that, the game’s pretty flawless.
As a whole, Trine 4 lives up to the name of the franchise. But it may seem like the black sheep of the series for existing fans of the franchise and the golden goose for newcomers. For most fans of puzzles and platformers, Trine 4 is a must-buy.