The Trine series has seen all of its games being released on Nintendo Switch this year with number four being released this past week. Now the third game didn’t exactly fall in good terms with their target audience being the least popular one in the series. Having shifted to 3D wasn’t a very good idea in the end and so its nice to see the series going back to its roots for this fourth installment.
The power of Trine is mainly in the story. The magical world and the fun adventures ensure that all levels and puzzles are woven together. That is no different in Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince. This time the heroic trio of Amadeus the wizard, Zoya the thief and Pontius the knight go in search of the magical prince Selius. His dreams and nightmares become reality and that causes a lot of problems. His royal parents send him to a magical boarding school and he soon runs away from it. During your journey you will meet various other characters who will help you with your mission. For example, there is a nest of giant eagles that you must save from devious creatures. In return, the eagles help you with some puzzles that were blocking your way.
The gameplay feels very familiar. Each hero has his own list of skills that will help solve puzzles. The wizard Amadeus can conjure up heavy boxes and let objects float and shift. Zoya fires arrows and can tie ropes to certain objects. Pontius the knight is very skilled with his sword. His shield also comes in handy. With this he reflects light and bounces water in all directions. You can switch between these three heroes at any given time and often a combination of powers is the solution for every puzzle.
Although this is now the fourth game in the franchise, the puzzles feel very unique and new. This has a lot to do with the physics, which are worked out superbly for Trine 4. Where in previous games you could often abuse physics that behave strangely, you will really have to come to the desired solution here. The puzzles are also very well balanced. One moment you think you are Einstein and the other moment you seem to be a caveman. The more simple puzzles are the path that you have to follow in the story, while the more difficult puzzles are often not necessary but do entail extra rewards.
These rewards come in the form of magic potions. If you collect enough of these drinks, you can upgrade your powers. In this way Amadeus will be able to cause additional damage with its heavy boxes and Zoya can launch ice and flares. However, these extra powers can only be unlocked when you reach certain points in the story. So you never really get the feeling that you have to work for these unlockable extras, because you need them anyway at certain points. Each level is therefore packed with magic potions to collect. Even without the difficult bonus puzzles, you can unlock everything easily. The extra powers are not that well thought out and you never get a real satisfaction by unlocking them.
Fighting is sadly the weakest link in the game. Out of the blue the terrain on which you find yourself becomes an arena and you cannot leave. Numerous enemies appear in the form of wolves, spiders and goblins. Every fight is almost the same: you change to Pontius and use his thick ass to crush enemies. Think of Mario, who can do a similar attack. You can easily hit enemies that are too far away with Zoya’s arrows and before you know it the battle is over. The fighting feels absurd, as if it was only implemented to break up the puzzles. Only the bosses bring some variation here by adding puzzle elements. For example, you can defeat a zombie by reflecting light on him at the right time.
Trine 4’s strongest weapon is perhaps the cooperative mode. You can play the single player with up to four other players. A lot of puzzles have been adjusted in this mode so that you need several people to solve them. You then need several ropes to walk over or several crates to jump on. It is just fun to work out a puzzle with a friend and to struggle until someone finds the solution. Because the levels are so different, it’s like getting two games for the price of one.
Trine 4 manages to make the franchise shine once more. The levels are full of challenges, it’s up to you to solve them in different ways each time. The story is well elaborated and the puzzles are not always that easy. With the addition of the cooperative mode with unique puzzles, it will also take a long time before you have completed the entire adventure. It’s just a shame that most battles are pretty boring and the upgrade system is quite lazy. All in all, Trine 4 is one of the better puzzle games and forms a nice change between all shooters and adventure games that have already been released this year.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is back in full force with a great story, fun characters and a good variety of puzzles. Sadly the combat got a little bit left behind in the process.