Platforms: Windows, PS4, Linux
There comes a time every once in a while where I embark on a hunt. A hunt for a game to play that suits my particular mood at that time. If I’m looking for an RPG I head over to multiple sites where I can find a whole list of RPG games available to play. But knowing me, it’s never really as simple as that. A 10-15 minute search for a game will end up being an hour, or even two! The indie game section is where I’d usually head over to if I’ve exhausted all of the other genres I’m interested in because, let’s be honest, there are a lot of indie games that aren’t great. But there are a few gems that makes the indie genre proud and the Trine franchise is one of them. Both Trine 1 and 2 (which I have indeed reviewed) are among my favourite games because you can see how much passion has been put into those games and everything from the music to the combat worked incredibly well together. Now Trine 3, the action-RPG platform and puzzle game is the continuation of the series and I hadn’t heard about it until recently, so I picked up a copy on PC and plowed through it until I completed it. So how is Trine 3 you ask? Well let’s find out.
With any Trine game, there’s always two things you can expect. A tight story and phenomenal visuals. The story always manages to grab your attention and have you feel the need to care for the lovable trio and to help them succeed in their quest to undo the shattering of the Trine. Trine 3 has our three heroes wanting to free themselves from a magical item known as the Trine. In doing so they accidentally shatter the Trine, causing a wicked and foul sorcerer to roam free. It’s a simple story that works.
Visually and audibly beautiful
As soon as the first level starts, you’re immediately immersed in its wonderful scenery and the visuals are what makes Trine 3 pleasing to play. This is the number one feature that I always, always look forward to in Trine, the powerful and vibrant colours, the hugely creative and detailed level designs (a level designed to look like a book where the screen turns like a page when you go to the next part of the level/next room – my favourite level!) and unique models (every level has different enemy models and that’s great otherwise it’d be boring against the same looking enemies and it adds to the immersion of fighting native creatures). You always use your imagination when thinking of the world and what the rest of it would look like. It really shows how much passion and care that has been poured into the artwork and audio.
It’s not just the visuals, it’s the music and sounds of Trine that aid the adventure and it never disappoints. The music is as always, stunning and fits the fantasy theme and it helps immerse you in the magical land of Trine. It can sound peaceful at times or fill you with tension during moments of action. There’s always one piece of music that sticks in your head after you’ve completed the game, which is always a good thing!
3D Gameplay isn’t the greatest
Despite the quality of the story, visuals and music, I still have mixed feelings about Trine 3. On one hand I’m thrilled that this game exists and that I’m able to enjoy the aesthetics of the game but at the other end of the spectrum, I’m disappointed because I want more and after the brilliance of the first two Trine games, I expected more. Trine 3 feels like things were taken away or stripped down to allow for more resources to be spent on adding 3D gameplay, which I think shouldn’t have been done anyway because it would have done just fine as a 2D game. With the previous games you had a talent system where you’d spend points to unlock new abilities, however because there is no talent system or any kind of way to gain new abilities in Trine 3, you feel like you’ve lost a sense of choice and some level of critical thought. If you didn’t have the plank spell for Amadeus, you’d have to think of different ways to overcome a puzzle where the plank would make it a lot easier. It’s this that makes the first two Trine games that much better because you’re using your imagination, your creativity and you start to think more about the game.
“Back in late 2012, we set out to do Trine 3 in full 3D – bigger, badder, better. We took a big risk with the 3D gameplay implementation – it was to be a massive improvement over the previous games in several areas. We have always been ambitious and this time our ambition may have gotten the better of us.“ – Frozenbyte’s VP, Joel Kinnunen
The 3D gameplay mostly works well apart from when it really matters for Amadeus and to a lesser extent, Zoya. If you think it’s a mess trying to move around objects with Amadeus, then you’re going to have a bad time in Trine 3. I mean it’s fine with 2D gameplay because there’s only two dimensions to worry about, but when you add a third, it will frustrate you to your very core and it can get even worse with a keyboard! Zoya doesn’t suffer as much with the extra dimension but it can be irritating at times when you can’t truly free aim with her bow. Only when there are things to aim at or interact with, does your ability to aim change projectile height. What I’m saying is you can’t really change how high you aim your shots and although it’s not exactly game breaking or an offense, it felt nice in the previous games where you can aim freely. It just feels more clunky in Trine 3. It’s not really any different in terms of how it feels when there are side scroll areas, but it feels like more immersive with a 3D world because you get to go into areas or have more flexibility with movement, so you can almost explore each level a bit more. Still something that I fell in love with in the previous Trine games, the ability to aim freely with Zoya and use different arrow types. Grapple hook is the same but you can tie things. Aiming with her bow, especially at the start can feel a bit clunky. 3D world. Although there are moments of side scrolling, it’s mostly 3D gameplay so there’s more depth to which is always nice in a game where the visuals are on point because you get to explore!
Trine 3 isn’t as ‘bad’ as some people make it out to be, in fact the only true negative points about the game is that it’s clearly unfinished, the removal of gaining new skills and that it’s a little on the short side. Most of this was due to the fact that Frozenbyte did not have enough money to finish the game as they had spent it all before knowing it. I agree that the addition of 3D levels isn’t the best choice and was too ambitious for how many resources they had, Frozebyte should have it as 2D. I’m not saying that everything about 3D in this game is horrible, because it isn’t. In the previous games, you could only explore the magical levels from side to side. What Trine 3 does for us is show us the beautiful levels in added depth. We get to envision more of the world because of this. There’s more to play with our imagination. If this part of a level looks like this, how does the rest of the world look? These are the kind of questions that lingered throughout the game. But the fact remains that as it stands, the game feels clunky because of the unpolished 3D gameplay.
How does it play?
Levels aren’t unlocked by finishing the previous levels, no sir. You need to collect a certain number of ‘Trineangles’ in order to unlock each level. Trineangles are the magical, golden items that are scattered in every level. I like this way of doing because you get to revisit levels where you may missed a few Trineangles, so you can look more carefully at where the ones you have missed are and therefore appreciate how the levels are designed. But I know that not everyone is a fan of this feature because not everyone will like the fact they will have to revisit levels to get a few Trineangles to proceed to the next level. It’s not bad at all really because each level has different checkpoints so you can easily go to wherever you need to go since it displays how many Trineangles you’ve collected in each checkpoint area.
Instead of gaining extra skills as you play, you get all of your abilities from the get-go and as I’ve said, there aren’t any new skills to learn, but there are some new abilities however, Zoya can tie ropes to things to try and hold them in place, which is very nice ability, but it can be frustrating as you get used to the controls and there are a lot puzzles that have you utilizing this skill. Also Pontius can jump and slam the ground, causing a tremor to the surroundings. The Wizard can do the same thing by slamming a box onto the ground, or any object that he can levitate. Which is awesome! Plus these slams are required throughout the game to get past some puzzles.
Although it’s clear which things each character were used for i.e. zoya for ropes, amadeus for lifting and pontius for combat/long range gaps/jumps the characters feel less unique in the sense that you can play most of the game with Pontius, except for the times where you need Amadeus’ alleviation magic or Zoya’s rope-slinging ability. Zoya is my favourite of the three because she commands the deadly bow and arrow as her weapon of choice and I used her often in the previous games for combat, thanks to different arrow types and stealth, but since there isn’t any of that in Trine 3 for Zoya, Pontius is miles ahead when it comes to viability for combat. I get it if Frozenbyte wants to make Pontius the go-to character in combat but it get’s a little boring when you have three individually, unique characters to choose from and you’re only using one of them in every fight. There are scenarios or ‘mini-missions’ where you’re only allowed to use one of the characters but that doesn’t really count. I miss having Amadeus able to protect himself by levitating or caging foes and I miss being able to freeze or ignite enemies with Zoya’s piercing arrows in case Pontius falls. What also takes away from each character’s sense of identity is how all three of them can wall jump. Zoya should have been the only one to have the skill to wall jump as it fits with her style since she’s supposed to be the most agile of the three and allow her to be useful it other situations other than for swinging and rope-tying.
Simply put, Trine 3 isn’t really challenging at all compared to the first two games and it’s a bit of a problem really. If a game is too easy, I will simply shut down and not care about what I’m doing, I’ll just play on unless it’s mind-numbingly boring, in which case I won’t even finish the game. I remember how Trine 2 requires more thought and effort into each puzzle because they become increasingly more difficult, whereas I had no such issues and nor did I reach a barrier which I couldn’t pass. It just lacks that challenge factor to make it feel rewarding when you complete a bunch of puzzles, or even a whole level.
Add on the fact that the game is too short and ends on a cliffhanger due to Frozenbyte not having enough funds to finish the game. It’s very clear that they originally intended for Trine 3 to have a finished story where you retrieve all three shards, however it ends with you only collecting one and you can imagine how disappointing it would feel ifs you expect a finished story but in the end you get a cliffhanger. I mean, the bad thing about it is that they aren’t going to finish it and it’s looking likely that there isn’t going to be another Trine game because of insufficient resources. It’s a little sad thinking about it because the first two games are so brilliant and are on such high standards but we were let down with a mediocre version of what could have been a spectacular game. It’s almost like when Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts was released, except I don’t despise Trine 3 because it’s still a game worthy of playing for all the positive features of the game.
“As for the cliffhanger ending and DLC—there are no plans for a DLC. Continuation of the story is a different matter however, but we have released everything we had and everything we aimed to release since the beginning of the Early Access. The future of the series is now in question, as the feedback, user reviews and poor media attention has caught us by surprise.” – Frozenbyte’s VP, Joel Kinnunen
What caused Trine 3’s lack of quality in the gameplay department is the heavy focus on the addition of 3D gameplay and the lack of funds and that’s what lowered the rating. It’s just a shame really because it could have been something great and better than the first two Trine games if Frozenbyte had more time and funds to work on it just a bit more. Despite it being a let down overall, I’d still recommend it to any Trine fan even just for the visuals and music. At least in those departments, you certainly won’t be let down.