Frozenbyte’s Trine series has certainly seen its ups and downs since the release of the first title back in 2009. While both the original Trine and Trine 2 were both engaging 2.5D puzzle-platformers, Frozenbyte decided to take an ambitious approach with the third title by making a switch to 3D, but ultimately, the game lacked the magic the first two games delivered. With Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince, Frozenbyte returns to the original 2.5D formula, and after playing the game, I can definitely say it was the right choice.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince once again reunites us with Zoya the Thief, Amadeus the Wizard, and Pontius the Knight as a new threat looms over the kingdom. The trio of heroes is tasked with tracking down Prince Selius and bringing him back to the academy. Prince Selius’ ability to make anyone’s most potent fears a reality gives rise to shadowy creatures beyond his control that terrify the whole kingdom, and leaves little time for the trio trailing him to reverse the curse, as the prince’s dream-fueled spells grow ever more dangerous.
If you have played the previous Trine games, you will know exactly what to expect from Trine 4 in terms of gameplay. All heroes have uniques abilities, and players will needs to use them in order to overcome the various puzzles and challenges lying ahead of them. You only control one character at the time, but switching characters is done by pressing a single button (R1 and L1 on PS4 for example), allowing players to easily experiment and overcome a specific section by combining each character’s abilities. There’s also a few combat sections, but I will get into that in a bit.
As I said before, each character plays very differently. For example, Zoya uses bow and arrows, making her a valuable asset in ranged combat, and also has a grappling hook that not only allows her to cross over gaps, but also attach two objects together and sometimes creating rope bridges in the process. Amadeus uses his magic to levitate objects and can even conjure boxes and balls, making him a crucial piece in how to solve most of the puzzles you come across. However, despite his usefulness in solving puzzles, Amadeus lacks any skills that allow him to be of any help during combat. Finally, we have Pontius the Knight. He’s very strong and with his shield and sword, Pontius is definitely your best asset in combat sections. He’s also crucial during several puzzles, as you can, for example, use his shield to reflect light or deflect water.
A large majority of the puzzles in Trine 4 have multiple solutions, giving players a lot of freedom in creating any combination of the protagonist’s abilities that will allows them to overcome a specific section. A simple example would be crossing a large gap, as you could either have Amadeus attach an object to some spikes in the ceiling and have Zoya use her grappling hook to jump over the gap, or have Amadeus conjure a box on the other side and have Zoya attach her rope to that box thus creating a rope bridge. As you progress through the story, you will acquire new abilities that give you new ways to solve puzzles. A few examples include Zoya getting elemental arrows (she can freeze objects in place for example), Amadeus being able to conjure more than one object at the same time, and Pontius getting the ability to create a light/dream shield that stays in one place reflecting/deflecting without Pontius needing to be there. The addition of new abilities offers new ways to solve puzzles, but this also means the game progressively becomes more challenging, as puzzles at later stages will require a lot more thinking than those in the first few stages.
As for the combat sections, while these are not necessarily bad, they are without a doubt the game’s weakest aspect. Like I said before, Amadeus lacks any combat abilities, which means you have to rely on Zoya and Pontius. While it’s true that Zoya’s elemental arrows are very effective in certain situations, the combat doesn’t really evolve beyond going in with Pontius and mash the attack button to kill enemies quickly. Fortunately, these sections don’t happen too often and end rather quickly. However, while regular combat needs some improvements, I really need to praise the boss fights, as they are challenging, and will require the player to use each of the character’s abilities to their full extent.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince features 18 stages, all of which will take players around 8-10 hours to complete. However, the game certainly adds some replay value with the inclusion of co-op. What's unique here is that if you play through the whole campaign in single player and then play through again in co-op, you will realize that a large majority of the puzzles must be solved in a completely different way, as puzzles differ depending on number of players and which characters are being used.
From a visual perspective, the Trine series has always had some gorgeous art design, and Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is no exception. The game features some detailed and colorful backgrounds, and will you often find yourself a taking small break from the puzzles and combat just to appreciate the world around you. The soundtrack also does a fantastic job and the same can be said for the voice acting, although I did occasionally experience some short sound glitches. Aside from those small issues, Trine 4 is a very polished game.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is without a doubt a welcomed return to the series’s roots after the somewhat disappointing Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power. Trine 4 combines what made the first two games so engaging, and improves the formula on certain aspects to offer a more polished and enjoyable experience that ever before. While it’s true that the game’s combat still needs some work and improvement, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is the best entry in the series, and one the best co-op puzzle-platformer experiences released this year.Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince was reviewed using a PS4 Digital Copy provided by Modus Games. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
|Engaging puzzles that usually have a variety of solutions.|
|Enjoyable co-op experience.|
|Combat is simple and lacks any strategy.|