The triumphant return to the Trine series brings us to a story about a Prince named Celius who has a desire to learn magic. Only one problem though, the Prince becomes somewhat of a nightmare due to dark magic hence the title, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince. Did the Trine series find its magic once again by going back to its roots? Let’s find out.
The Loveable characters return once more
If one thing stays consistent with the Trine series is that the main three characters remain the same. Whether you liked the 3rd installment or not is another discussion but one thing is undeniable, Amadeus the wizard, Zoya the thief and Pontius the Knight are an absolute delight. This doesn’t change in Trine 4 as the game starts off by giving you a look at what our characters have been doing since the last time we went on an adventure with them. This time they are asked to track down the Prince and bring him back to reality if you will. Of course our three heroes are up to the task. Somehow the characters have always managed to keep their charm even after four games. This is an incredibly well down job by the creators and the voice actors.
While the Trine series has always been about the puzzles it is important that the characters and their skills provide the balance between the puzzles and the story. You will find this true once again as each character brings their own set of skills. Pontius the brute packs a walloping punch with his sword, shield and mighty frame. He is suited for all situations from combat to helping with the more destructive parts of the puzzle solving equation. Need a boost to an out of reach ledge? Pontius can smash his large frame down on platform launching another character up and away. Of course this is in multiplayer but with single player you can still use this skill you just need Amadeus and his wizardry help. Speaking of Amadeus if you are a fan of the series you know he can conjure objects. This is one of the more needed skills when trying to forge ahead as you need his boxes or rolling balls to get by tricky situations. He has always been my favorite in terms of feeling his usefulness throughout the series. However, Zoya in this 4th installment brings her skills to both aspects of the game as well. She isn’t only useful in rope climbing situations. Her combat skill is improved here when it comes to battling some of the enemies in the game. Using her frozen arrows Zoya can freeze an enemy and then switch to another arrow and in most cases eliminate them immediately. This is very useful during single player fights.
While each player has a different skill set and can be upgraded by using points some of them do not seem to carry much weight later on in the game. Upgrading the skill tree is a fun way of keeping you involved with the character but I felt as if we could get through the majority of the game without them. It didn’t take away anything from the characters overall but I would have liked to see it incorporated within more of the puzzles.
The Tricky Puzzles of Trine
It is a puzzle game after all and in Trine 4 the puzzles come at you in an almost never ending wave. They are broken up by an occasional cut scene or enemy fight including boss fights but for the most part you will be solving puzzles. Working together in Co-op is always a fun way to go if you so choose. My son and I have played all the Trine games together and we immediately fell in love with the first few puzzles. Starting off simple and getting to know your characters strengths has always been a great way to begin the game. Conjuring a box to get to a high cliff or using your rope to open a hatch will be a mainstay throughout the game. This is where Trine 4 can bog down a little about halfway through the game. The puzzles do get more complex with having to smash open areas or having to use mirrors to line up beams of light. The game also provides a feature that will give you hints in the form of text at the top of the screen or in some cases the character will even speak trying to give you hints. We didn’t come across very many of these instances. This is good and bad.
For some the challenge of Trine and puzzle solving is what attracts them to the game. For others it might be the characters and the absolutely gorgeous colors in the game. If you are like me you just enjoy them both. While I am playing single player I don’t mind a good challenging puzzle. The ones that make you really think outside the box. I admittedly got stuck on one particular puzzle trying to smash open an area with one of the metal balls using Pontius. I needed to use all three characters in the situation but it was giving me fits with which one to use and how. This was probably the only puzzle in the game that really cost me a lot of time. You will breeze through the majority of the puzzles with ease and while my son enjoyed that aspect of the game, I was a smidge disappointed.
However, I can understand just wanting to play the game for the pure enjoyment and the love for the characters. He enjoys the puzzle solving but more than anything he will comment on things in the background or how certain areas look incredibly detailed. Of course this distracts him from some of the collectibles that you can find in the game from letters, treasures and knickknacks but he doesn’t care about that kind of stuff.
All The Beautiful Colors In One Game
One thing that got us interested in the first Trine game was how beautiful it looked. The colors popped on the screen and I had never seen a puzzle game quite like this one. That aspect has followed each game and is clearly a big part of this one as well. The detail put forth is really remarkable. From old ruins to bright backdrops Trine always seems to get this part right. Seeing objects or creatures moving in the backdrop is an entirely different element of the game. It brings the game to life on your screen in a way not many games can pull off and Trine does incredibly well. Side-scrolling your way through a wooded area as something moves along with you in the backdrop is so cool and had my son saying, “Whoa did you just see that?!” I thoroughly enjoyed those moments and his excitement as he spotted various things like this in the game.
The way the characters react to the environment is also something you have to appreciate about Trine 4. From jumping on boxes to pulling open hatches it all works really well. Switching between characters as you move across the landscape or swinging on Zoya’s rope to grab a ledge felt smooth and in most cases effortless. It’s a treat the way the rolling balls move along with your character as you ride on top as if you were on a tight rope or even when you are actually walking across a rope. Later in the game we did have a few experiences with characters disappearing but it didn’t happen often and was nothing that broke the game. All in all the environment is some of the best I have seen in a Trine game.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince can be played in local Co-op or you can play online with someone else. If you want to solve those puzzles on your own you can do that as well. I tried out both and admit I had fun both ways. Having someone help figure out those pesky puzzles is always cool but it was fun also trying to take them on alone. Trine 4 also has the unlimited mode that will allow you to use the same character at the same time during multiplayer. This seems more like a preference thing but it does make for some comical moments when using the feature.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince brings the game back to its roots in a successful way. It’s difficult to keep a series going for this long and keep things fun and entertaining but the developers absolutely pulled it off. The story behind the game is a little different from the others and while at times it didn’t do much but slow things down it kept us interested. The puzzles are great with the majority being simple and easy to proceed through with some being way too easy. There are a few sprinkled in that should give you a good challenge but don’t expect many. Having to stop and fight here and there broke up those moments of going through the motion and some of the big boss fights were pretty dang cool. The game shines with its artwork but that isn’t anything new when it comes to this series. The game didn’t really blow me away with anything they did with the story and it even seemed to derail at times. I am not exactly sure where I would rate this one in the series but that is for another discussion. At the end of the day the developers listened to the fans of the series and they delivered.
Rating: 8.5/10 (Great)
A review copy of the game was provided for the PS4.
Release date: October 8th, 2019