Though beloved by many, the Trine series has had its share of bumps along the way. After two really good and absolutely gorgeous games, the series tried to change up the formula with 2015’s Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power by introducing fully 3D segments.
The result was a mixed bag that is regarded by fans as being no where near as polished or complete as the first two games, and still holds a Mixed 67% user rating on Steam.
Frozenbyte has acknowledged that the 3D parts in Trine 3 didn’t work, and have returned to the series’ roots with Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince.
They were kind enough to send us a preview build ahead of the game’s release in October, and I’m here to report my initial impressions based on the first couple hours of gameplay.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince reunites Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief for yet another adventure.
This time around they must track down the runaway Prince Selius, a young man that suffers from intense and dark nightmares that can manifest in the physical world as shadowy monsters that cause havoc wherever he goes.
The first thing you’ll immediately notice is just how gorgeous the game is. Trine is famous for its beautiful and fantastical fairytale-inspired environments, and Trine 4 looks like it’ll be no different.
In the demo, players are treated to a snowy mountain range, a haunted mansion, a bustling city during a festival, the overgrown gardens on the outskirts of a rundown manor, and the ruins of the manor itself. Every level is vibrant and full of detail, and I can’t wait to see where else the full game takes us.
Trine is also famous for its whimsical narration, character interaction, and charming music, and Trine 4 looks like it’ll deliver on this front as well.
The music perfectly fits the action on screen at any given time, and alternates between cheery and upbeat tunes during exploration and puzzle-solving, to an ominous and brooding soundtrack during combat.
The same narrator returns to provide exposition before levels and during cutscenes, and the characters regularly exchange quips and jokes as you explore the game’s lush environments.
The gameplay thus far is exactly what fans would expect from a Trine game. Players can swap between the three characters at will, and each one of them has a variety of weapons and abilities to assist in the game’s combat and signature physics-based puzzles.
Amadeus can summon and levitate objects, Pontius is a tanky fighter with a sword and shield, and Zoya is a skilled archer that can use a rope to swing across gaps, pull objects, or create bridges.
Many of the puzzle mechanics you remember from previous games return, along with a few new ones. Pontius can use his shield to deflect projectiles, redirect liquids, or reflect beams of light. He can also perform a ground slam on seesaws to catapult himself to higher areas.
Zoya can tether her rope between two objects, allowing you to create makeshift pullies in several puzzles or tightrope bridges. Towards the end of the demo she gains ice and fire arrows that can be used to freeze or melt objects. And of course, you’ll be moving around lots of boxes and ramps with Amadeus.
All your various abilities double as combat mechanics as well, which won’t be surprising if you’ve played the other games. So far enemy variety has been fairly limited, with only three core enemy types in the demo. There’s shadow wolves (including a bigger mini-boss version), spiders that come in fire and ice variants, and imp-like creatures that shoot one of three projectiles.
Of course this is only based on a couple hours of gameplay, so I’m sure things will open up later. There was also a boss fight against a massive wolf that is fairly straightforward and not overly challenging, but still fun nonetheless.
Ultimately though, the combat remains the secondary focus of Trine 4 thus far. Most of the demo consisted of puzzles, including optional single-screen puzzle rooms that grant you extra experience.
The puzzles were all very easy and straightforward, but like the combat, I’m sure things will open up later on when you gain more options.
Not even a third of the characters’ upgrade trees are showcased in the demo build, including many iconic abilities from previous games, so its clear that everything will become more complex later in the game.
There are some minor performance issues in the preview build, most notably a cutscene towards the end of the demo that dropped to 40 FPS on my PC. Beyond that, the game already looks and plays silky smooth, and I’m not expecting an early build like this to be perfectly optimized anyway.
I absolutely loved the first two Trine games, I’m happy to say that Trine 4 is shaping up to be exactly what fans want. The backgrounds, music, narration, and dialog are as vibrant as ever, and the game’s mechanics double down on everything that made the franchise so memorable.
I know I’ve been gushing about the game in this preview, but after just a few hours of play, I’m already extremely excited to get my hands on the final version.