Frozenbyte debuted the Trine series in 2009. Two years later, Trine 2 released to positive reviews. With the launch of Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power, Frozenbyte stumbled as it took the franchise from 2.5D to 3D, netting a lukewarm reception from critics. Now, with Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince, the studio is looking to regain its footing. Trine 4 is on track to right the ship with a return to the 2.5D space, fun characters, and compelling puzzles.
OnlySP had the opportunity to play Trine 4’s demo at E3 2019. While the game is playable in a co-op setting, it is also completely playable as a single-player experience with an entirely separate set of puzzles.
Pontious, the knight, was the only playable character for the demo. Zoya and Amadeus, the rogue and wizard respectively, will also be returning. All three characters will feature new and classic skills.
Trine 4 returns to its 2.5D roots in a satisfying way. The abilities are more reminiscent of Trine 2 than the simplification the powers from its follow-up. Pontious’s smashing ability felt more useful in solving puzzles than attacking enemies, as larger sections of the demo featured sections where the ground pound-like ability was needed to open new pathways.
In returning to 2.5D, the platforming from the first two games returns. This aspect was slow-paced though may pick up as the game progresses and levels become harder. The character moved slowly when jumping across platforms, though the controls were responsive.
The game will feel familiar to those with experience of the first two entries in the series. The levels are designed around the puzzle-solving that is a core part of the franchise. The solutions were intuitive, yet challenging, with some requiring the use of the knight’s shield to pass.
One example of this was during The Cursed Knight boss fight. During this segment, the enemy fired projectiles that needed to be deflected towards sections of the stage for light to shine through. The light was then reflected off the shield towards The Cursed Knight, dealing a chunk of damage. This combination of puzzle solving and combat made the boss fight enjoyable. Players could do a standard sword attack to chip away at The Cursed Knight’s health meter, but using the environment rewards those who are able to decipher the puzzle surrounding the fight.
Trine 4 looks to return to what has made the series so beloved. The puzzles felt rewarding when solved. The game discourages brute force to defeat enemies by making the melee attack simple. Instead, the game encourages solving puzzles to aid in dealing massive damage to enemies. Trine 4 is shaping up to be a return to the formula that has made the series so successful.