Wednesday 6 November 2019

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince Review (Switch)

Although we found Trine 3 to be a lot of fun it didn’t reach the heights of the first two games in the series. The 3D design allowed for some fun set pieces but nothing really held together as tightly as in the series 2.5D roots. With this in mind we were pleased to see Frozenbyte return Trine 4 to the 2.5D style and venture forth once more into a world of fiendish puzzle design and beautiful landscapes.

The plot of the Trine series have never really been the main highlight but it still helps to set up the fantasy world and characters that move within it. This time our three heroes are on the trail of a prince who is having nightmares that are taking form in reality and threatening to cast the world into shadow. Ok then.

In order to save the world, Amadeus the wizard, Pontius the knight and Zora the thief must solve puzzles, engage in some platforming and fight off some shadowy apparitions that seem to mainly take the form of big wolves. The puzzles are excellent throughout and will stretch both new and returning. As you progress each of the characters is granted new skills which are then filtered into the puzzle design. For instance, at one point Pontius gains the ability to set up a sort of magical second shield that can be used to deflect light beams and water. This technique is then heavily required for the following few levels. The adding of the new elements keeps things fresh and always keeps players on their toes.

The combat though fails to reach the same sort of heights. Most of time fighting comes down to being enclosed in an arena which fills with monsters. It’s then a mad scramble to get Pontius around to kill things quickly enough before he is taken out. The other two characters aren’t much use in the tight arena setting and it feels samey and repetitive quickly. This is something that was never an issue in previous games so it is somewhat disappointing to see such unimaginative action sections appear here. It’s also not helped by the fact that playing undocked makes everything so small that you can’t really tell what’s happening close up (something again not helped by the dreamy aura that surrounds enemies).

Though the combat is disappointing, most of the time you will be trying to overcome traps and obstacles in creative ways. Most things you come up against have multiple solutions so it allows the player to deal with things in whichever way they see fit. For example, getting over spikes might be achievable by summoning blocks but you could also get across them by having Pontius dash or by Zora swinging.

The difficulty has also been knocked down a touch as characters that die can now be brought back to life more easily. In previous games players had to make it through a checkpoint to restore lost companions but now they will pop back up after a small amount of time has passed. If you want to play the game in the classic way you still can (and good luck to you if you try it).

The levels themselves are of an exceptional overall quality and look stunning throughout the five acts. They are also long but never outstay their welcome due to the ingenuity and variety present throughout. It’s also worth noting we didn’t hit any type of technical issue when playing undocked.

Overall, Trine 4 is a well-crafted, creative and fun addition to the Trine franchise. The puzzles are exceptional and the game is consistently jaw dropping in terms of visuals. It’s not quite up to the near perfection of Trine 2 but it’s a substantial and enjoyable adventure and shows that there is still life in both the franchise and the 2.5D format if Frozenbyte decide to keep the game going in this direction.

Overall 8/10

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