Ah, Trine. The hours upon hours of gaming bliss that the series has provided me with is startling. From the moment I played the first entry on the Playstation 3 all the way to Trine 2: The Complete Story’s release on the Playstation 4 – the fairytale vibe, Lost Vikings-esque gameplay and stupendous graphics have made sure that the series has stood high among 2D puzzle platformers.
Yet for all the positives Trine has, it’s been difficult to see what developers Frozenbyte could do to evolve the series. The formula works and the game always looks impressive visually, but besides a new story and different environments not much has changed between entries. That’s not the case with Trine 3: The Artifacts Of Power though. Whilst a lot of the formula that makes Trine such a great series remains the same, the game has now taken a 3D route – gone are the 2D planes that fans are used to and instead we now get to venture through beautifully visualised 3D worlds that manage to feel even more alive than ever before. However, if history has taught us anything it’s that the 2D to 3D transition isn’t always a smooth one – the question is does Trine follow in the path of the Super Mario series and adopt the three dimensional axis blissfully, or does it instead end up in the muddled state that Sonic The Hedgehog finds itself in?
Trine 3: The Artifacts Of Power kicks off by re-introducing us to the trio of heroes we’ve grown to love: Pontius the Knight, Zoya the Thief and Amadeus the Wizard. This time around their adventuring days are behind them and they’re instead living normal (well, almost) lives. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Trine game without a grand adventure, thus the titular magical artifact reunites our mismatched heroic trio and sends them on another perilous escapade.
As per previous entries, the game has a magical fairytale vibe that wouldn’t feel out of place as a Disney movie. It’s a wonderful world full of magic, perils, unlikely heroes and dastardly villains – all amalgamated together into a tale that entertains without offering too much to think about. That’s not to say that the story doesn’t have a backbone though; Trine 3: The Artifacts Of Power certainly offers a bigger focus on the back story and history of the world than the previous games did.
The game’s big change is the introduction of a full 3D world, no longer restricting you to navigating through a singular plane. It could make or break the game, and thankfully it’s the former – whilst Trine 3: The Artifacts Of Power doesn’t adjust to the new 3D style perfectly, it’s efficient enough to provide an enjoyable experience that still maintains the roots it had established in previous entries. Most impressively, it manages to re-create the beautiful world Trine fans are used to in full 3D.
Trine has always been known for it’s vibrant, stunning worlds and that’s certainly the case here – Frozenbyte have gone all out in producing what I think is one of the most beautiful video games I’ve ever seen. From the glowing sands of Amadeus’ tropical holiday hideaway all the way to the bustling treetops you explore towards the back end of the game, I found myself constantly in awe of the environments. What’s more, they actually feel alive with flora and fauna creating an inhabited, lived in world. Previous games had teased the world with their beautifully crafted backdrops, so it’s fantastic to finally be able to explore them rather than be left wondering what mysteries are left hidden away from us. One particular level that really stood out took place inside a book, the heroes working from page to page as the story was interactively told around them – certainly one of the stand out scenes in the game. Add to that the impressive character designs and fluid animations and you won’t help but to feel very impressed – especially when you consider that Frozenbyte are creating visuals that easily outshine those of some AAA releases.
The change of plane also required an overhaul to the puzzles you encounter, this time around seemingly shifting the focus from intellect and instead to manoeuvrability. Don’t get me wrong, puzzles will still have you scratching your head – just expect to easily solve them with a few well timed jumps. The heroes come with a few new abilities to help adjust to this new focus. Take Zoya for example – she is now able to attach rope between objects, allowing for a new means to get from point A to B. It’s especially useful given the increased scale of levels.
Whilst there are new abilities, the game feels like it’s taken a backwards step with the complete lack of a skill tree. You can no longer unlock new skills as you progress and are simply restricted to what is given to you. It’s a surprising omission, especially considering the ability to evolve your character’s skill set to suit your style of play was one of the stand out features in previous entries. You’re no longer tasked with tough decisions such as if Amadeus’ ability to conjure multiple boxes is more important than enhancing Pontius’ sword and shield – these personal decisions certainly made each player’s playthrough unique.
Speaking about Amadeus, his character feels like the black sheep of the gang this time around. Aside from creating boxes (of which he can only create one at a time this time might I add), he doesn’t really offer much else. He’s got improved combat skills with the ability to smash boxes on foes, but who would choose to take that approach given Pontius’ sword-fighting skills? The other characters each feel like they offer a lot more to the game than Amadeus.
Combat itself feels much more in-depth and improved. It still maintains the ‘button-bashing’ approach of previous entries, but with ever-threatening enemies coming at you from all directions some care and thought is warranted. It’s certainly more satisfying and offers a greater deal of flexibility, especially with the impressive boss encounters.
The aforementioned puzzles still depend mightily on game’s physics and, as per previous entries, can be easily exploited in Trine 3: The Artifacts Of Power. Now before I make any complaints I must confess that I’ve previously took advantage of the unpredictability of the in-game physics to complete a puzzle. I’m guilty. However, it wasn’t always as apparent before. This time around it feels like whole sections can be bypassed by exploiting a box to launch your character from one place to another or by managing to jump your way onto what’s supposed to be an inaccessible platform. Some might attribute this to insufficient game testing – I actually think it adds to the charm though. There’s always a RIGHT way to solve a puzzle; the game just doesn’t always make you take that route, even if it isn’t intentional. Constant exploitation can make you feel a little lazy though, maybe even a little guilty too.
Whilst most things have transitioned over to 3D well there were a few niggling issues I found. Sometimes the camera positioning could make some of the trickier jumps a little more difficult, object’s physics could go completely out of control and Zoya’s bow and arrow could be very cumbersome to use. There’s no huge issues that stops the game being enjoyable, but instead small, yet noticeable, nags.
Perhaps one of the most controversial things spoken of Trine 3: The Artifacts Of Power since its initial PC release is the running time – something I had no qualms with. I finished the game in around five hours which is roughly the same amount of time it took to finish the first game in the series. There are also a few character specific challenge maps that take a bit of time to play through. Whilst I’ll admit it would’ve been nice to have more of the game to play, that’s down to the fact I was enjoying playing the game as opposed to there not actually being enough of it there to experience. Admittedly the ending did leave a lot to be desired though, especially with no confirmation that we’ll see a resolution to the cliff-hanger the game ends on.
I’d questioned if Trine could replicate the successful formula it’s established in 3D and the answer is a certain yes – Trine 3: The Artifacts Of Power is a blast to play through. Whilst it’s far from perfect and the ending does feel a little abrupt, the beautiful world and enticing gameplay will keep you hooked from start to finish. Everything you would expect from a Trine game is present so there’s plenty to keep long-time fans happy; let’s just hope we’ll see a conclusion to the tale the game has started telling…
– Absolutely stunning graphics
– Enjoyable game design and puzzles
– Magical, Disney-esque story
– Somewhat abrupt conclusion with no guarantee of a follow-up
– Omission of any form of skill tree
– Amadeus feels underwhelming compared to other characters
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4