If game developers ever made a video game that comes (sort of) close to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, it would be the Trine series. There’s a certain whimsy to the series’ tone and characters as you jump around some of the most beautiful landscapes seen in 2.5D games – rivaled only by those of Nintendo – as you move about solving physics based puzzles. Trine 2 was the high point of the series after which Trine 3 was just “Trine 2 hard” (sorry, not sorry). Trine 4, I admit, I approached it with a healthy dose of skepticism, but I was pleasantly surprised, especially when my 7 year old daughter jumped in for some co-op where were were drawing out puzzle flows on used printer paper as we went along.
The three characters from previous Trine games return in Trine 4 as well. You have Amadeus, a wizard that felt like he jumped right out of Terry Pratchett’s Wizard University, who’s main ability is to conjure up boxes. Then there’s Zoya, a thief with the deft use of a bow with elemental arrows, a grappling hook for getting around and a fairy rope that makes objects float. Lastly there’s Pontius, who mainly bashes things, but also he can use his shield in several puzzles. The story is standard through-the-looking-glass garden variety fables that you’ve read over and over, with this one featuring a Prince who’s mucking about in magic causes nightmares to be unleashed. So it’s up to the trio to find a way to get him to a safe place. While the story itself you may completely ignore, it’s the way the adventure plays out that’s a lot of fun, especially with the subtle banter between all three characters that keeps things moving along.
Trine 4 can be played solo, where after a brief tutorial on the games mechanics with each character, you can switch between them to solve puzzles. It’s when another character – or three join in do things get interesting. Puzzles sort of expand to include the other characters in the mix and it’s a lot of fun planning everything before executing. They force you to learn and adapt on the fly, finding new ways to solve puzzles, which usually have you bridging gaps, moving objects around and redirecting light and playing around with portals. The same puzzle solving extends to combat too, which take place in very Smash Bros. like levels, where you can chose to take down enemies together using skill or you could just spam attack if you want to just get it over with. Either way, I found myself wanting to get back to puzzles as soon as possible.
That said, Trine 4 does drag a bit here and there, especially with the same sort of puzzle that seems to keep repeating itself. After the nth bridge puzzle, I was ready to chew through my arm, though the game seems to know it and then throws some variation at you. With another person in the mix, it was so much fun, especially making mistakes lead them to certain death which makes for some incredible troll fodder. Trine 4 keeps that momentum going with light hearted fun and a joust of wits and creativity that somehow can only be pulled of here.
Undoubtedly, Trine 4 is one of the the best looking 2.5D games out there and the developers have pulled out every trick in the book or other books to make every level memorable. From Frozen like show levels to beautiful bio-luminescent styled night scenes that look straight out of Avatar, the colors just pop especially on a 4K HDR TV powered by a PS4 Pro. While the game would be perfect on the Nintendo Switch for the easy JoyCon Co-op, if you have an Xbox One or PS4 and a good TV, then you’re in for a treat that will make your eyes bleed pixie dust.
Trine 4 may not reach the heights of Trine 2, but it definitely is a right step for the series. While it does have its missteps, it is an entertaining platformer for your friends and family to jump right in and finish.