Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince Review: A Masterpiece in Puzzle-Platforming

by David Sanchez November 5, 2019 @ 10:37 am

Reviewed on PlayStation 4

As we get closer and closer to the end of 2019, it’s probably time we start thinking about our favorite games of the year. For me, there are some strong contenders including Apex Legends, My Friend Pedro, Ape Out, Sekiro, Neo Cab, and Heave Ho, just to name a few. Well, I’m adding Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince to my list now. Developer Fronzenbyte has managed to put out one of the most complete-feeling puzzle-platformers that’s as fun to play alone as it is with friends.

I’d never played a Trine game until Trine 4, so I went in not knowing what to expect and came out wanting to check out the series from its very beginnings. Going in blind meant I went in with no legacy to hold the latest game up to. In the end, I found Trine 4 to be a feel-good run through a beautiful fantasy land.

The Nightmare Prince

As its title suggests, Trine 4 follows the story of the tormented Prince Selius. Tortured by otherworldly nightmares, the prince’s bad dreams begin to become reality and affect the real world. That’s when heroes Amadeus, Pontius, and Zoya join up to rid the world of these living nightmares and aid the prince.

Truth be told, the story of Trine 4 isn’t exactly memorable. I never felt invested in helping the prince, and because he’s kind of a jerk in a lot of the cut-scenes, it was hard to empathize with him. That said, if playing through the beautiful, challenging levels of Trine 4 meant I had to put up with and assist a bratty prince, well, I was all in.

A Fantastical, Cathartic Journey

Trine 4 features well over a dozen levels, all of which will take you between 30 and 40 minutes to play through. The longer length of the levels means you’re treated to larger, varied landscapes. These levels feature multiple puzzles, many of which are lightly physics-based.

You’ll need to use Amadeus’ wizard abilities to conjure up blocks and keys and move them around the screen or squeeze them through tight openings. Meanwhile Pontius is much more skilled at combat due to his brute force, though he can also destroy parts of the environment in order to solve some puzzles. Lastly, Zoya is the most cunning of the bunch, and she can use her rope to pull blocks and doors, and to create tightrope bridges and platforms.

The best puzzles are the ones that require the abilities of multiple heroes. These brain teasers can get pretty tricky, but save for a few exceptions, you’re probably never going to find yourself slamming your head against a wall to figure out a solution to any puzzle. The breezy nature of the puzzles ensures that you’re almost always met with a challenge, but not a challenge that you can’t handle. As such, the overall experience is almost always pleasant.

All the heroes’ abilities come into play in each level of Trine 4, so if you’re playing alone, you’ll be switching between the trio on the fly. Meanwhile, four-player co-op allows everyone to play a different role. I played mostly solo and had a blast. Playing with a full party can sometimes feel a bit bloated — think the New Super Mario Bros. games — but either way, there’s still a lot of fun to be had. Ideally, you may want to keep the party at two or three players.

While I loved most of what Trine 4 had to offer, I felt that the boss encountners left a lot to be desired. These battles were a bit too simplistic — or in the case of Amadeus’ battle, kind of annoying — and paled in comparison to the rest of the gameplay offered throughout.

A Colorful Trip Through a Magical Land

While playing Trine 4, I had a hard time deciding whether I loved the puzzle-platforming mechanics more than the visual style. The 2.5D look really stands out here, with backgrounds that are colorful and manage to really stand out. The game is a beauty to behold, and I dare say it’s one of the best-looking 2.5D titles I’ve ever played. Rich purples, golden fall hues, and foggy blues blended to create the game’s fantasy setting.

Of course, it’s not just the colors and style of Trine 4 that stand out. The level designs, the architecture, the interiors, the forests — everything about the game looks absolutely dreamy.

The soundtrack is fitting, too, with musical chimes and light Harry Potter-esque themes playing on to really bring the fantasy vibe home. The voice acting is solid, with the main trio of protagonists sporadically making humorous comments about the prince, the NPCs met along the way, and the monsters encountered.

I didn’t want to stop playing Trine 4. I didn’t want the game to come to an end. I wanted there to be more, even though what was there was definitely sufficient. Even if you’ve never played a Trine game before — like me, prior to this latest entry — you’re likely to find a lot that you’ll love in Frozenbyte’s latest project. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is an absolute joy to play, and it’s a true example of outstanding game design.

Score: 9 out of 10

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