Trine is a series you may not have heard of. It doesn’t get marketed with the help of Hollywood A-list actors or developed with the backing of mega-publishers like EA or Activision with seemingly bottomless pockets for funding top tier studios. By comparison Frozenbyte studios are positively indie. But make no mistake their games have some of the most impeccably crafted environments ever coded.
PC gamers will need no introduction of course, having enjoyed the critically acclaimed Trine and Trine 2 since 2009 and 2013 respectively. These side-scrolling fantasy adventure games combine a healthy mix of platforming, puzzle solving and combat where you control one of three heroes whilst simultaneously switching between each in order to progress.
Trine 3 launched recently back in December 2015 for both the PC and PS4 to much anticipation as it was the first time the series was going to venture in to a fully 3D world. Mixing the well known puzzles, combat and platforming gameplay with a new dimension sounded like a dream come true, however after the game launched, it faced an unexpected and significant backlash from the community that has now left the developers issuing apologies and the franchise’s future sadly in doubt.
Much of this negative press came from complaints that the game was too short compared to previous games and too ambitious for trying to transition from 2D to 3D. Well, myself being a fan to Trine 2, but missed out on getting the sequel at launch, I was eager to dive back in and see for myself just what had happened to this beloved series that warranted such damning consequences.
Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power opens with an all-out attack on the Wizard Academy and it doesn’t take long before they realise they need the help of our trifecta of heroes and the power of the Trine that was bestowed on them.
Our heroes in question are: Ser Pontius the knight (battle hardened with a love of rescuing sheep), Amadeus the wizard (nifty at conjuring giant cubes and levitating objects) and Zoya the thief (nimble, sharp tongued archer with a grappling hook for fancy traversal).
Ser Pontius the knight – Intro level
The gameplay mechanics, humour, and visual presentation have always been the core tenants of Trine’s appeal and The Artifacts of Power, follows this tradition. Personally this was great news for me. Few games can balance switching between 3 characters with different traits, solving puzzles and platforming with the skill of Frozenbyte Studios. Not only that but Trine 3 yet again provides some of the most beautifully detailed environments I have ever seen this generation. I mean just look at it! Audio and animation too are of a high standard and considering the fairly meagre budget the developers had to work with, they really put to shame a lot of bigger studios with much bigger budgets.
The game is spread out over 8 story levels with an additional 10 small challenge levels that can be accessed at any time. Each needs to be unlocked by collecting gems throughout each one. Collect enough and you unlock the next one etc… Much has been made about this fragmented approach instead of just playing through the story seamlessly. This is understandable as it does break the overall flow, but doesn’t come close to ruining any enjoyment of navigating through each environment, of which each has been impeccably crafted.
What hurts this game the most is how short each level is. Really each one can be cleaned out in about 30 mins, making a total playtime of a little over 6 hours. Now if the game was priced at £29.99 I’d be screaming foul play along with the masses, however it retails on the PlayStation Network for a very reasonable £17.99 plus an extra 10% off with a PLUS account. Heck even the full trilogy of games can be had for £19.99.
I don’t know about you but I’d rather have an expertly crafted short game than have a title that spreads the quality far too thinly with too many side distractions in an effort to get that playtime counter up.
Additional welcome features that Trine has always provided are online & local coop play for 1-3 players and stereoscopic 3DTV support. Now sadly online coop has been pulled from Trine 3 but local play is there and so is 3DTV support. Good lord please try it. Simply put it is incredible. To see how well each level has been given the added depth that this technology can provide is something everyone should experience if they can.
To sum up then it is easy to recommend Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power with a caveat that you know your getting something short, but special. I really hope future of the series and Frozenbyte studios doesn’t end here and Ser Pontius, Amadeus and Zoya have many more adventures ahead of them.