I checked out a demo of Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince at E3 2019. Liking what I saw, I jumped at the opportunity to play the full title. After my playthrough, it’s clear the puzzle game is a unique adventure worth your time if you are a fan of the genre. And this is coming from someone who has never played an entry in the series.
Trine 4 is good for newcomers and fans alike
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince follows a trio imbued with magical powers. There’s Pontius the Knight, Zora the Thief, and Amadeus the Wizard. Initially, the title has you play with each hero separately so you can learn their unique abilities: Zora is great with archery and rope, Amadeus can summon and levitate various objects, and Pontius knows his way around a sword and shield. Eventually, the trio joins up for a fourth outing. They must track down Prince Selius, who is unable to control his nightmares from manifesting into the real world.
The game eases you into controlling the three protagonists quite well. Changing from one to another is done with a press of the shoulder buttons. As you progress through each stage, you will encounter various monsters. Battling these creatures nets you experience, which will eventually unlock power-ups for the squad. Potions can also be found in the levels, and enough vials will upgrade the skills of each character.
Various locales with numerous challenges
What I enjoyed most with my time in Trine 4 were the environments and level design. Each area is distinctive: You’ll be traversing forests, mazes, kingdoms, gardens… even a badger’s house! The locations also incorporate new abilities seamlessly; for example, Pontius will learn how to summon an astral projection of his shield. Right after, puzzles will appear that utilize it. The game eases you into learning your new powers with a great sense of progression.
Additionally, the way Trine 4 handles collectibles is impressive. Every stage on the world map lists how many potions there are to procure. After completing a level, you can revisit it via its various checkpoints; it makes hunting down every last concoction a breeze! Sadly, the areas also each contain three items that do not show up on the checklist. The title makes you look off the beaten path for these prizes.
Last but not least, Trine 4 has a wealth of inventive puzzles. You’ll be summoning balls, blocks, and platforms, reflecting sunlight and water, and attaching ropes to hooks. More often than not, you’ll come across a real head-scratcher that will incorporate all of your characters’ expertise. Expect a lot of “a-ha!” moments.
Combat and some puzzles are a mixed bag
However, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince has some disadvantages. For one, battles are subpar and lack polish. Attacks don’t land with any oomph; a tackle into a conjured werewolf will send it careening without any sense of impact, for example. Also, Pontius is the only viable warrior of the three heroes. Sure, you might need Zora to fire an elemental arrow into the odd spider here and there, but Pontius has both offense and defense covered with his sword and shield. Frequently, I just relied on the knight to wail away against every enemy the game threw at me.
One double-edged sword in Trine 4 is the various ways you can approach puzzles. In a way, having more than one solution to a problem is impressive. Though, this can be a detriment. Let me explain: Once, I was stumped on a puzzle that required me to reflect sunlight into a flower bud so it could bloom. I couldn’t figure out how to do it, so I ended up using Amadeus’ teleportation skill to bypass the riddle entirely. Having this as a potential solution damaged the very concept the Trine series is built upon, the thought-provoking puzzles.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is a treat for fans of the puzzle genre. While its combat is flawed and some power-ups overpowered, it has intriguing solutions to a myriad of enigmas. If that is all you want out of a series that is known for its mysteries, then pick up the latest entry. It will keep you guessing and pondering until the credits roll.
A review code was provided by the publisher.