I’ve always had a soft spot for the Trine games. I remember playing the first one years ago and being impressed by the game’s brilliant graphics for a 2.5D platformer. The second game was more of the same, but still brilliant. The third entry… Not as well-liked by the hardcore Trine community due to the game going 3D and being quite short when compared to the previous Trine games. They hated it, basically, and since then Frozenbyte has kept the Trine franchise locked away until it was ready to right the perceived wrongs.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince has some making up to do, then. I’m happy to say that Trine purists will be happy with Frozenbyte’s latest effort, even if it does mean regressing somewhat. Hey, I really liked Trine 3.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince sees the three familiar heroes come together on another quest; Amadeus the wizard, Pontius the Knight and Zora the thief (my favourite of the playable characters). The goal: return The Nightmare Prince (Selius) to his school of witchcraft and wizardry, and save the world from his spooky dreams.
Prince Selius is a student of the magical arts, but he’s also a disturbed individual. His dreams are dark and full of twisted monsters, but due to his mad magic skillz, his dreams spill out into the real world. He ends up doing a runner from school, and the trio is called in to bring him back – for his safety and everybody else’s.
The story is a little darker this time around. The earlier games were full of whimsy with fairytale stories. Trine 4 takes a darker turn that has the main characters’ fears coming to life. I’ve never really cared all that much for the story in previous Trine games; the main draw was always the brilliantly produced puzzles and detailed worlds. It’s nice to get a little invested this time, though, and I was genuinely impressed with where the story went after hitting the half-way mark. Kudos where kudos are due.
That being said, the gameplay is still front and centre and will be what the game is primarily judged on – and rightly so. A good story is nothing if the gameplay around it is naff.
If you’ve played a Trine game before, you’ll know what to expect. You’ll use the three characters and their various abilities to solve puzzles. Amadeus the wizard is a master of conjuring and object manipulation; Pontius is a burly knight armed with a sword that can slash and a shield that can deflect projectiles; Zora the thief has a bow and elemental arrows that can affect the world around her, as well as doubling up as a grapple.
Each of the three characters play a big part in getting through the wonderfully realised chapters. You may find yourself leaning towards one over the others, but you’ll be forced to use all three throughout the adventure. For me, that sometimes meant endlessly switching between characters as I tried to figure out what to do next.
Trine 4 is a puzzle game at heart. That being the case, expect to get stumped by some puzzles while you breeze through others. I almost kicked myself as I spent 15 minutes trying to get to a hidden area to grab a collectable, only for the solution to be so simple I pulled it off by accident. On the other hand, I came across areas that had all the hallmarks of a puzzle (spikes on the walls, grapple rings, etc), only to find that I could just hop my way forward. Maybe I missed something, or maybe it’s the developers’ way of messing with players. Either way, it was a little unnerving and I had the feeling that something was amiss.
I suppose that’s the underlying theme with Trine 4. Things aren’t always as they seem. The handsome, well-spoken young Prince is actually suffering some severe mental issues. The heroes aren’t impenetrable gods with no fears, and puzzles aren’t always what they seem. You could use Zora to get by, or you might use Amadeus and his not-Jedi floaty skills. Pontius… He’s the big lad you bring with you to the fight.
If you’re new to the Trine series and think “ugh, another side-scrolling platformer with a few puzzles”, let me stop you right there, dimwit. Trine is a 2.5D platformer. That half a D makes a big difference. Just ask your mum.
Of course, you’ll be moving left to right, but there’s so much to see that you’ll probably spend a lot of time not moving at all. There’s a depth to Trine 4 that you won’t see in many other games, 2.5D or otherwise. Each scene is stuffed full of detail. Not just what’s in your immediate vicinity, but in the background too. It gives the world a feeling of depth that gives the impression you are playing something grander than what is essentially a platforming, physics-puzzler.
Trine 4 also features co-op multiplayer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to try out the co-op due to scheduling conflicts, but I didn’t really struggle playing alone. I can see how having a mate would have been useful sometimes, but for the most part, I was comfortable playing alone.
Trine 4 is another Trine. That’s the simplest way to sell you on the game. It’s more of what made the original two games well-loved. It doesn’t change the formula too much, though there are upgrades to buy and collectables to, er, collect (missing in Trine 3). It’s a Trine game for Trine purists, but accessible enough for newcomers to not feel unwelcome. The writing is silly but fun, and at times quite dark in its delivery. The gameplay is brilliant and Frozenbyte has outdone itself with some of its puzzles on this outing, and the platforming is as good as any other. The only real weak link in this adventure is the combat, but who plays Trine for their action fix?
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Trine 4 is a return to what made the series so popular. The gorgeous 2.5D world has more depth to it than some of the soulless open-worlds released in recent times. The physics-based puzzles still have a place in gaming, and the platforming is better than ever. To top it all off, the story isn’t too bad either, and it all comes together to bring Trine back in style. Still, I really did like Trine 3…
- Fantastic graphics – you won’t see another platformer like this
- Puzzles are sometimes ingenious, other times maddening. Sometimes seemingly non-existent?
- Voice acting is still terribly cheesy, but at this point, it’s a part of the Trine brand
- Story is well done and a little deeper and darker than earlier games
- Combat isn’t much fun, boss fights are a little tedious
- The camera can go a little off if you try to backtrack
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is – he only has one Platinum.)