Following what occurred with Trine 3’s attempts to go quasi-3D, it appears that the developers at Frozenbyte have chosen to return to what works with the franchise in the first place — 2.5D. So the game is still 3D, but not quite in a dimension where you have to run around in the depth of the stage to figure things out. That makes things a little simpler this time around, as Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince feels like an honest return to form.
Once more, the game calls upon three characters to make their way through a trouble-filled world, with a story backing them up along the way. One is a wizard who can conjure boxes and willfully move objects with a Force-like power. One is a venturer that can shoot arrows at distant objects and even tag them to move them out of the way, or even swing on a rope like, well, Tarzan. And then there’s the knight, who can hack his way through obstacles and find a way to defeat the bosses the trio come across.
As with previous Trine games, the magic comes with solving each puzzle with each of the characters’ abilities thrown into the mix. You can switch between them at any time, which is useful when it comes to doing one thing and then swapping out for another.
But Trine isn’t just a local affair. While the whole game can be played by yourself, it really works in a co-op fashion, as characters can work together to solve puzzles. It feels a bit better collectively, though, either way you go, it’s a lot more fun than expected, even if it sticks generally to formula.
That’s because you can change your experience a little bit with the inclusion of a skill tree. Through this, as you make progress in the game, you’re able to unlock new skills for each character. For instance, the wizard, Amadeus, can conjure rolling balls, making it easier to get around. These new abilities prove useful with some of the later puzzles of the game, and you can unlock them however you see fit. It’s neat to see a progression system that really pays off over the course of the game.
Going back to multiplayer, up to four can partake in an adventure, even though they’re automatically assigned roles in the game’s main story mode. However, with unlimited mode, the bets are kind of off, as players can do whatever they please and have a lot of fun doing it. A versus battle it isn’t, but there’s something goofy and enjoyable about this mode that’ll put a smile on your face. And it’s good for both local and online, so even if you don’t have friends around, you can have fun with it.
The gameplay feels really nice, with Frozenbyte going back to 2.5-D basics and focusing on the core features of each character, as well as what can be unlocked. That said, the difficulty setting for Trine 4 is a bit on the easy side. Some puzzles were a bit too simple to solve, while the tougher ones only came in the later part of the game. There is a hint system in case you get stuck, but that seldom happened here. That’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but some die-hard Trine fans may consider this to be a cakewalk.
Fortunately, between the co-op shenanigans and the game’s overall length (several hours — a nice feat for a 2.5-D adventure), you’ll still get your money’s worth here.
And on top of that, I genuinely liked the game’s presentation. The environments are simply stunning, probably the best I’ve seen in a Trine series to date. The animations are also quaint and well put together for each character; and even the cutscenes keep the flow of indie beauty going. The audio’s great too, with quality voicework, an excellent soundtrack and good sound effects.
We’ve been through three Trine games already, including a third chapter that didn’t quite sit well with everyone, even though I still liked it. But for Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince, it really feels like the series has hit its stride, with the kind of charming adventure you’d come to expect from the developer. It can be a little bit on the easy side, but get a solid group of friends together and you probably won’t mind one bit. This Nightmare is hardly daunting. In fact, it’s rather dreamy.
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