Trine 4 Excels When it Uses the Powers of its Characters in Tandem
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch brings the series back to its roots with style and grace in its puzzles.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince has a lot to prove to series fans. While people loved Trine 2, Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power was a bit too ambitious for its own good which led to it being a disappointing foray into 3D. In an attempt to make up for that games flaws and pack the experience with more content, Trine 4 has reverted to being a 2D platformer. While this may sound like a downgrade, it actually allows Frozenbyte to more intricately design levels.
Even though my hands on demo only focused on one character, I was more impressed with how fun and intriguing Trine 4 looked in my hands-off demo when Zoya, Pontius, and Amadeus all had to be used in tandem to progress and solve puzzle. Due to this, it is easy to see that Trine 4 was one of the best platformers at E3 this year and will serve as a proper return to form for fans of the Trine series.
The level I of the game I played was the tutorial level for Pontius in a haunted castle. It was much more simple than the usual Trine level, but was built to ease players into this character. Pontius is the strongest of the characters, making him best at combat, but he can also reflect light, place down a second shield, and dash into things in order to destroy them. Things were capped off with a boss fight against a disgraced knight, and puzzle mechanics were smartly incorporated as Pontius had to reflect beams of light in order to stun the boss. While this short demo is pretty cut and dry, it establishes the smart puzzle and platforming design I saw in three other levels during a hands-off presentation.
From a visual standpoint, all three levels were beautiful. One took place in a field covered in golden leaves, one in a forest that grows giant blueberries, and one in a grove with a variety of blossoming and glowing plants. Despite being 2D, these levels all feel like they have depth and look better than anything in the previous 2D games. Where things really start to get impressive though is in the interesting puzzle and platforming design of these places.
Amadeus, Zoya, and Pontius all have unique abilities. Pontius’ I already mentioned, but it is worth noting that Amadeus can create and levitate blocks and heavy balls and that Zoya can shoot a variety of platforms and rope for players to walk on. Individually, these mechanics could all probably sustain an indie game’s worth of puzzles, but Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince excels by having players use the powers of these characters alongside one another in order to overcome obstacles that one character could not do alone.
Usually, puzzles like this have Amadeus summoning and object that either Pontius can dash into or Zoya can attach a rope to in order to extend where they can go. Even though the developers obviously knew how to overcome each puzzle, they all were introduced as fun situations to solve and may even have multiple solutions according to the developers. While some puzzle games and platformers with multiple characters prefer to use each character’s skillset individually, if at all, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince splices them all together to create some interesting situations for players to pass.
These puzzle-platforming sections are broken up by combat sections. While I am a bit weary of these becoming pace-killers, the developers were adamant that this was not the case. They even highlighted how they’ve improved combat by giving Zoya more arrows to attack with and Amadeus the ability to throw and slam down the objects he creates. There are even light puzzle elements in combat as players can set up certain moves or obstacles to take out enemies more efficiently. In previous Trine games, Pontius was really the only character worth much in combat. From what I saw, this is definitely not the case in Trine 4.
The game will also feature co-op, which I saw a glimpse of, the slightly modifies many of the games puzzles. With the focus on uses the three character’s abilities in tandem, I could see Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince easily ascending to be one the most fun multiplayer puzzle-platformers out there. While I doesn’t try to break the mold of the series like Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power did, Trine 4 seems a lot more focused and well-designed. Hopefully, the whole game will benefit as a result.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is currently poised to launch for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in Fall 2019. If you want to play the entire series, Modus Games and Frozenbyte also plan on releasing Trine: Ultimate Collection, with all four games included, sometime this year as well.