Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince comes after a divisive third entry that puts the series into limbo. Thankfully, developer Frozenbyte decided to return with a fourth, more traditional entry, which rights the course made with Trine 3.
In 2009, the original Trine released and put Frozenbyte on the map as one of the better indie developers. Followed by two sequels, the third game ended up putting the kibosh on the series for several years. Which is a shame because the Trine series always included some of the better puzzles I’ve played through. Thankfully, the developer is going back to their roots with a solid 2.5D adventure, across three heroes and magical land full of surprises.
Puzzle? We Got ‘Em!
Frozenbyte knows what worked well for them with the first two games and used those as a template for Trine 4. Like the previous Trine games, you’re in control of Amadeus, Pontius, and Zoya; the three are on a quest to find the missing prince Selius, to stop him from making his nightmares come to life. While the campaign isn’t exactly deep or compelling, it is serviceable and pushes our heroes through some interesting locations. And while the story serves as a perfect way for the developers to string together a wonderful series of puzzles, the story lacks anything of substance, held together by likeable characters.
Where you’ll see weakness and cracks in the armour is during battles. While battles rarely last than a few minutes, combat is dull and lacks the challenge the puzzles bring to gameplay. In some instances, I ended up spamming a stomp attack to swiftly move past the encounter and onto the next puzzle. Bosses, on the other hand, offer some challenges by utilizing each character’s abilities. I wish the regular combat would incorporate the same level of creativity as each boss had, leading to an otherwise very different discussion.
Frozenbyte also includes a generous checkpoint system, so dying often mean you revive not far from where you are and almost instantly. I’m a fan of not having to worry about retreading ground and having to force myself forward. Thankfully, this isn’t an issue and I commend the way the game doesn’t penalize you for dying and allowing me to focus on the important bits like the puzzles.
Another than that I really liked is the way progression works. In the beginning, you begin barebone with few skills available for each character. Each new skill is smartly unlocked every other level or so and offers anew way to approach puzzles you’ll face. Amadeus is able to conjure a block at the start for example but later gains the ability to create balls and planks. Zoya starts her bow and rope, each offering their own perk for using them. She excels at platforming by creating walking ropeways for crossing gaps or swinging across rooftops. Pontius is able to use his strength and shield to deflect beams or magic against enemies or burn away thorns.
Like A Storybook Come To Life!
Visually Trine 4 excels and feels like a storybook coming to life. Backgrounds and levels are vibrant to the point they feel alive and stand as a testament to the talent Frozenbyte employs at their studio. Whether you’re making your way through a city, forest, or castle, the backgrounds stand out due to their vividness, full of detail and excellent lighting.
Paired with a magical score full of fantasy, the pairing of brilliant visuals and music compounded with a complimenting voice cast is more than I expected. Characters don’t take themselves seriously and even joke around amongst each other, which adds a layer of comedy to Trine 4.
The biggest issues I faced were minor technical hiccups on the Nintendo Switch, which wasn’t game-breaking but things like textures not loading correctly, the game runs smooth and looks gorgeous on the Switch and plays well in handheld and docked mode.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince may not do anything outrageous from the previous games and that’s okay. By going back to what works for the series and focusing on the pieces that made the Trine series stand out, this is easily the best case scenario after the third divisive entry. Aside from lacklustre combat, the puzzles and platforming are wonderful and engaging with no penalty for messing up or dying. And with three enjoyable characters rounding out the cast, you’ll be smiling at some of the jokes while exploring a world of magic and wonder.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]