Absolutely beautiful and back to its 2.5D roots (although I did like the last game, I seem to be in the minority, so I’ll shut up about it), Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince ($29.99) is a wonderful and wonder-filled visual treat. Solo play is excellent, but It’s also great to play with a few friends for the engaging co-op and unlimited modes, which become more of a blast when you get new players in on the fun who’ve never tried this series before yet manage to come up with some quirky and/or intelligent out of the box means to solve some of its puzzles. Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief are back and in an even more stunning to look at game packed with enough content outside the story to last a while. The main game has a pretty basic story, but there’s a good deal of replay value when you get a few friends and get to messing around.
Developer Frozenbyte’s choice to let players cook up their own solutions to puzzles is a genius move where the game never gets dull because there will be those moments when someone pulls of a nice move and discovers either through trial and error or just mucking around for fun how to proceed. In solo mode, the game is great stuff, as switching between its trio of characters and using their powers comes off easy. Well, battle sequences aside where some solo players may want to rely on switching to Pontius and his trusty sword and shield until because he’s usually best at dealing with those shadow beasts quickly. The other team members do fine here (and as you play through the game, all get some nifty skill upgrades), but for my tastes, I used Pontius whenever I could for combat.
Even though the game world is presented as a side-scrolling affair, developer Frozenbyte has lovingly packed so much rich detail here that some areas feel as it you can travel out of the boundaries and go off in the distance if you wanted to. The gorgeous fairy tale looks and excellent character animation help bring the game to life and it’s all family friendly stuff right down to a few exaggerated, oversize boss enemies which manage to be both somewhat comical and scary (well, not that scary). In the game, a young and somewhat reckless prince tries to learn some powerful magic outside his skill level and our heroic trio get reassembled as a team and have to go after him. Unfortunately for them, he’s actually got a few tricks up his fancy embroidered sleeves. Can you say dipping our three heroes’ minds to bring forth nightmares, folks?
Each of the three players has a tutorial mission (helpful for newbies and anyone who might be a tad rusty, and the game is wisely designed to keep track of collectables and those pink orbs in each area, making any replaying of maps nailed down to any spots you missed in your travels. This is a great touch because things get busy and you can miss some well-hidden goodies if you rush things. That said, co-op play is fun plus because someone will find some out of they way place where secrets are well-hidden and it requires teamwork to get to the goodies. Solo play is a bit trickier, but never impossible thanks to the levels allowing a bit of creativity in puzzle solving.
There are light RPG elements here with skills to learn that change up the gameplay, with the better skills coming a few hours in. The game also has a geed deal of collectibles to find as you go, so feel free to take your time with this one. One thing that’s nice to see is the game’s level of difficulty is set to be not frustrating and very family-friendly. Yes, the expert players can make things harder if they choose to and in co-op, you can choose to have the game scale challenges based on the number of players and which characters are played. This is a game that wants you to beat it and have fun doing so. You can even play with 4 players total even though the game makes the odd choice of not introducing a new character to play as (or: someone has to be a second of the three mains here).
I suppose I could write more, but this is what I like to call a “shut up and play it!” game and I may as well follow my words. Trine 4 looks, sounds and plays brilliantly for the most part and it’ll be interesting to see where Frozenbyte goes from here. Overall, it’s thrilling to see the return of the series that I hope gets either more content or a follow up that expands the roster (hey, a few of those colorful NPC’s would make fine additions to the cast, I think).
Score: B+ (85%)
-Review code provided by the publisher