Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is a new entry in the long-standing franchise that follows the journey of Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight and Zoya the Thief on a co-op adventure as they venture across expansive fairy-tale landscapes in search of Prince Selius, whose dark dreams have manifested in reality.
As these nightmares wreak havoc on the waking world, the trio will need to locate the noble prince and put to an end the chaos before the entire world is consumed in its shadows.
The game does not require any previous knowledge or experience with the series to enjoy it. However, returning veterans will definitely find an additional layer of charm in this release.
The bright and sharp colours, intricate puzzles and great level design give the game charm and excitement. Every effect, be it the blue magical aura when you pick up an object, the flaming red arrow strike, the quick and on-point traversal, all make Trine 4 stand out from the crowd.
My experience with puzzle-platformers
When my colleague Caleb told me that he got an email from Modus Games with Trine 4’s review code in it, I immediately messaged my friends to check if anyone could pick it up. Caleb was working on Ghost Recon: Breakpoint (and not having a very good time with it, to put it gently) and Armu was out on vacation. Uphar, Ishan and Arkadyuti were unavailable due to West Bengal’s popular Durga Puja festival. Everyone was engaged. Except me.
I was reluctant. ‘I’m not an expert in puzzle-solving games and I suck at these,’ I told myself. This was in the context of my playthrough of Limbo, where, in the latter part of the game, I couldn’t solve a basic puzzle even after hundreds of attempts—my last resort was YouTube.
I haven’t played any of the previous Trine games so I was already at a disadvantage. I didn’t want to fail terribly and be remembered in the same vein as that infamous Cuphead tutorial. Hence, upon Caleb’s query on whether we should decline the key, we agreed to do so.
The Next Day
The next day, I got the word that Amartya—a friend of mine who went to a far-off place for higher studies—was coming for Puja. I told him to visit me whenever he could. This was when I started exploring the internet in hopes of finding a good co-op game. Like always, I failed. I then posted about it on Reddit. A user on r/PS4 suggested Trine among a few others. That’s when I realised, ‘Oh! We have a code for the new game.’
Immediately, I watched its gameplay on YouTube and read a few articles about it. The game offers local multiplayer for up to four players. ‘That’s it, I’m trying this game out,’ I told myself and asked Caleb not to return the key. I told him I couldn’t promise a proper review but I can assure an impression piece along with a commentated video with lots of gameplay. So I began my journey with Trine 4.
(For the latter part of my personal story that includes downloading the game and the issues I faced, my friend’s betrayal and my struggle figuring out how to bring in three players, stay tuned.)
Puzzles & Level Design
Swing, jump, hit, climb, conjure, stomp! Most of the puzzles are designed in a way that requires the entire trio to solve. Your path ahead might be obstructed by glinting pinkish-violet crystals. To reach these crystals, you’ll have to cross a bed of poisonous wildflowers. Prior to that, there’s a platform that shifts downward when stepped on. So, how do you solve it?
First, Zoya freezes the platform with her ice arrows. The trio jumps on it and reaches the edge. Amadeus now conjures a metallic ball—which the trio uses to walk on and roll over the wildflowers, one by one—to reach the other edge. Finally, it’s Pontius’ turn. Amadeus flies the ball in front of Pontius and the latter charges forward. The ball hits the crystals with maximum force, shattering the obstruction and clearing the path ahead.
Here’s another example. There’s a withered flower on a platform at the top-left corner of the screen. To progress, the flower must bloom. The source of light is at the bottom-right corner of the screen. On the top-right corner, there’s a hook. Zoya can rope the hook but can’t tie it to itself. Pontius can reflect the light but the angle is not right. Amadeus can conjure a box, but that would only block the source of light. What do you do?
First, Amadeus conjures a box and places it left of centre. Zoya ropes the hook and connects it with the box making it firm enough for Pontius to climb on. Pontius now changes the angle of the light with his Dream Shield, climbs the rope, reaches the new angle and corrects the light diffracted by his Dream Shield to reach the withered flower.
There are hundreds of such puzzles that test your skills, composure and problem-solving abilities. Sometimes, when you can’t crack the right solution, you can always exploit the strength of multiple players to make your way through with makeshift solutions.
One puzzle demanded us to water a withered flower. Between the water-tap and the flower, there was a gap we were tasked to fill. In return, the flower would grow gigantic leaves for us to jump on and reach the platform which was way too high for the characters to reach. We tried and tried but failed to create a path for the water. Finally, I, as Amadeus conjured two balls. My sister, as Zoya, connected the two balls. I flew up the first ball and as a result, the second ball was in the air as well. My sister roped the second ball, and in no time, Zoya was a flying human being. I dropped the ball on the platform and Zoya safely landed. Now, we both switched characters and repeated the procedure. Problem solved.
If you’re creative enough, you can find a hundred ways to solve the same puzzle. Although I’m not a puzzle-person, I had great fun freezing platforms, conjuring balls and boxes, stomping over wooden crates, jumping over bouncing mushrooms and completely blocking enemy projectiles by throwing down balls right on their faces.
It was an excellent experience.
Visuals and Overall Gameplay
The game is gorgeous. Every little object is detailed, the lighting is spot-on, the level design is remarkable and the animations are flawless. Interestingly, during our play-through, we didn’t experience any bugs, except for one that got Pontius stuck in a lever, making the character unmovable. But that was it. Nothing else from our eight hours of playthrough. If you find any bugs you want us to look into, feel free to let us know in the comments below.
On the combat: the game limits the area and the screen is locked until the enemy hordes are taken care of. After almost a dozen battles, things become repetitive and predictable. Although new classes of enemies come and go, I was unable to fully get comfortable with combat. Sometimes these encounters felt like padding. At other times, I thought the game wanted to remind us that this game does actually have combat. One thing I really liked about these fights is that enemies don’t spawn during levels or puzzles (at least to the point we’ve played). You’re given full freedom and time to work around a puzzle and make your way out the way you want. You don’t feel the rush to cross a level. It’s relaxing, calm and often rewarding.
It would be unfair of me to comment on the single-player experience, but from a few minutes of exploring, I gave up. This game is meant to be played with other players, chatting, working together and having fun at times. I often conjured balls just to throw my sister in the green wildflower pits. Am I evil? Pff. No way.
As engaging as the gameplay was, we found the narrative elements of Trine 4 fading into the background. The sound design, on the other hand, was an excellent complement to Trine‘s puzzle-solving action. But the showstopper here is the gameplay: developer Frozenbyte have outdone themselves.
Although we still have a way to go in the campaign, we can’t wait to get involved in more magic, swinging and stomping over each other. I’d easily recommend Trine 4 to anyone who’s looking for a fun co-op experience, local or online. This game is an absolute treat and a perfect time-killer. It’s relaxing, fun and interesting. Highly recommended.
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 10
Processor: Intel i7-4770 or AMD FX-8350
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 or AMD Radeon R9 280
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 16 GB available space
*Note: If you are running on a laptop and experiencing performance issues, try enabling your dedicated GPU instead of the integrated GPU. This process is different for each type of video card, but instructions can be found through Google.
Day 1 Patch Notes
- Gameplay/puzzle polish and bug fixing in all levels
- Gameplay/coop camera fixing
- Gameplay/checkpoint location tweaks
- Gameplay/single player camera fixing
- Gameplay/added Elite Enemy types in many battles
- Gameplay/modified heavily Aunt Gretchen boss battle
- Gameplay/tweaked and balanced the rest of the boss battles
- Gameplay/added multiplayer puzzle assistants to all levels
- Gameplay/tweaked enemy behaviour and attack values
- Gameplay/plenty of combat tweaks
- Gameplay/dialogue trigger edits in all levels
- Gameplay/tweaked total experience point amount and placement in levels
- Gameplay/disabled Shield Glide skill when in air flow
- Gameplay/bow firing method tweaks
- Gameplay/added Easy-difficulty setting
- Art / level Art detailing polish in all levels
- Art / heavily improved level 16 – The Nightmare Academy visual look and underwater scenes
- Art/lighting polish in all levels
- Art / VFX polish in all levels
- Art / polished most of the character animations
- Art / polished many NPC and enemy animations
- Art / added own animations for Cannoneer and Wizard enemies
- Art / polished many cutscene animations
- Art / disabled visible background spiders
- Art / Bouncy Ball skill animation polish
- Art / added squirrels to several levels
- Audio/audio polish in every level
- Audio / changed FIGS-language character death screams
- Audio / added dialogue for Secrets
- DLC / Added pre-order bonus level data (Toby's Dream)
- GUI / updated Credits texts
- GUI / added Credits background images and pause/scroll functionality
- GUI / made intro cinematic skippable
- GUI / skill tree overhaul
- GUI / adjusted menu sizes
- GUI / changed Options menu portraits to higher resolution
- GUI / added Checkpoint images to level selection map
- GUI / new descriptions for Visual Settings
- GUI / new player amount change notification popups
- GUI / subtitle icon fixes
- GUI / adjusted different cursor sizes
- GUI / added a level up effect
- GUI / tooltip tweaks
- Localization / added Korean and Czech language
- Localization / added new font for Korean language
- Localization / changed Polish font for Trine4-font
- Localization / fixed many localization issues in menus
- Localization / fixed mixed up Simplified and Traditional Chinese subtitles
- PS4 / modified d-pad direction tooltip image
- Switch/flipped A and B binds for most gameplay inputs
- Switch / shader optimization
- Tech / improved asset LOD settings
- Tech / dynamic shadow fixes in all levels
Post-Launch Game Improvements
Modus Games and Frozenbyte are both committed to ensuring that Trine players have a great experience, and we will support the game with additional patches and fixes as needed. Most notably, Local Wireless Multiplayer on Nintendo Switch will be added in a patch shortly after launch. There will also be further improvements to combat and boss fights, along with all sorts of other polish.
- Don’t attack bosses head-on! There may be an ability or something available in the room you can use to turn the tides of battle in your favour.
- There are a total of three secrets in each level from Craghill Moors onward – two collectables and one letter. The secrets these hold will unlock from the main menu room in the full game.
- XP you collect can be used to acquire new skills for each character, all of which can assist in combat and puzzle-solving.
- Each puzzle has multiple solutions – try out different combinations to progress.