Trine 4 : The Nightmare Prince
Developed By : Frozenbyte
Published By : Modus Games
Category : Puzzle, Platformer, Multiplayer
Release Date : Oct 8, 2019
Puzzle platformers are probably one of my favorite genres of games to play. When they’re done right, they are a lot of fun presenting some great brain-scratchers of puzzles for you to work your way past. And when they’re done wrong well…it’s just enjoyable to explore all the depths of how wrong they got it. So getting introduced to a late entry in a series of games in this genre, you tend to assume that they’ve done something right all along. But I took that assumption with a grain of salt when I turned on Trine 4 : The Nightmare Prince on the Nintendo Switch for the first time, because as we all know, sometimes things can take a turn for the worst.
The adventure follows the three heroes that have been around for the entire series : Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief. The trio is beckoned for a special quest in the hopes of trying to find the lost Prince Selius. To make matters worse, the Prince suffers from horrible, dark nightmares, and on top of that, due to his magical powers pieces of his dreams are manifesting themselves in the real world. Can our heroes battle these nightmare visions and find our Prince before it’s too late for the world?
Trine 4 is experienced from a 2.5D perspective, which in the case of this game means that the levels artwork and scenery goes to the screen’s fore- and background, but your character will only operate on a single plane. The game is broken down into five acts, with a handful of levels in each one. However, through the first act you’ll only have three levels, with each one introducing you to one of the main characters.
Each character can perform the same basic maneuvers such as running, jumping, and grabbing ledges to pull themselves up. It’s their unique abilities that set’s them apart from each other though. Amadeus can conjure up a magical block to give himself a boost for some climbing, as well as being able to levitate certain objects on the screen. Our thief Zoya is handy with her bow and arrow, and can also latch onto hooks and certain objects to either pull them, or swing across large gaps. Lastly, tough and strong Pontius can break through some surfaces and objects with his sword, pound the ground to open up new lower pathways, or re- and deflect some things with his shield.
Once you get into the second Act and the main game, you will have access to all three characters by yourself, or the ability to add extra players and pick up the other characters too. There are two things to note going forward in the game. One is that you have the option to play in Classic or Unlimited modes. Classic means you are limited to just one of each of the characters on screen at the same time, while Unlimited means if you wanted, you could have all four players be Zoya.
The other point to note is that puzzles in Trine 4 are dynamic, and can be altered and increased in difficulty depending on how many players are tackling them together. So if you play the game entirely solo, the puzzles you experience won’t be the same once you go back through with one or more friends. On top of that though, each puzzle will always have more than one solution, so have some fun experimenting before you blast on to the next screen.
All of the puzzle solutions will involve you making use of at least one of your heroes abilities, but like I said above there’s always going to be more than one way to do things. There may be a gap to cross where you swing across with Zoya’s rope, or use Amadeus to conjure his block to get you higher before you jump across.
At first the puzzles will be simple, only requiring the use of your abilities and combining them in different ways to get the job done. Eventually, the game starts bringing in many elements to give the puzzles a different edge and complexity. You’ll have to deal with redirecting light or water by using Pontius’s shield. Ice and fire will come into play, but luckily Zoya gains the ability to to use elemental arrows making it easy to counter these.
Enemies are the other thing you’ll need to deal with while you play, and eventually these start to become a puzzle in themselves. They start as ghostly, cloudy images since they’re representing the Prince’s nightmares. But after some time, these guys can take on different shapes and elements too.
As you play you’ll earn XP, which can be applied to any of the three characters’ skill tree. Some of the abilities on these trees are earned naturally over time, and become instantly unlocked when you’ve earned the right amount of XP, and this will be represented by gold stars. The stars are generally earned through the game’s combat and defeating enemies, but can be earned in other places too. Upgrades for those skills can only be purchased, and with a different collectible on top of that. Scattered through all of the levels are a ton of pink tear-dropped shapes that can be passed through to obtain. On the skill tree screen, you will see a bar filling up, telling how many of these you’ve collected and how many you need before you get the next upgrade point.
The icing on the cake of this whole experience is the combination of the stunning visuals, and the beautiful soundtrack to give the game that extra dimension of life. Most games that I have played that adopted a side-screen perspective, when they tried to give some depth to the scenery it never felt right. Here, in Trine some of the scenes were absolutely stunning and it was really hard to walk away from them because of it.
After having never heard of this series before, I was weary going into it’s fourth entry. While I didn’t feel any nostalgic recognition from seeing any of the characters, I did get instantly hooked on them as soon as I met them. Jumping into the middle of a franchise can be tough, and almost come off as if you’re not welcome there unless you know all the things about all the people, but Trine opens itself up and invites you right in. I loved everything about this game and it has absolutely pulled me in to wanting to experience the earlier entries. So whether this would be your first time playing these games, or if you’ve kept up and you’re preparing for your fourth journey, this is a title that absolutely delivers on every front. Just be warned if this is your first one, this trio makes for excellent journey companions and you will want to go on their other adventures too.