I imagine most people would be thrilled if they were endowed with special powers as a result of encountering a mystical artifact. For the heroes of Trine 3, however, their time spent with the “Artifact of Soul” has brought nothing but misadventure and stress. The wizard Amadeus would like nothing better than to enjoy a family vacation for the first time ever. Zoya, the thief, wants to finally capture the find of her dreams and retire comfortably. Finally, the stalwart knight Pontius the Brave merely wishes to use his skills to capture thieves and keep his small corner of the world safe; it’s his duty as a knight after all. After saving the arcane academy from certain destruction at the hands of a giant, the three heroes voice their frustrations with the Artifact, and as a result it fractures, releasing the hold on the evil Sarka, who had been held at bay by its power until the heroes’ complaining essentially set him free. Now it’s up to them to restore the artifact and destroy Sarka once and for all.
Let’s start with the numerous things Trine 3 does well: to start, it does very well balancing between action elements and the numerous ingenious puzzles strewn throughout the various stages. I’m a fan of puzzle games as a genre, but sometimes they try to incorporate more “action” based elements that ultimately seem like a throwaway, mainly due to the mechanics being lackluster when compared to the stronger puzzle aspects of the game. Trine 3 doesn’t suffer from this, however, as the action sequences flow seamlessly into the puzzle segments. As for the combat itself, while Zoya and Pontius have more obvious methods to dispense of enemies, it can be frustrating trying to do battle with Amadeus. His primary mode of fighting is lifting and dropping things on enemies heads, which can be cumbersome and awkward at times.
Another strength of Trine 3 is the gorgeous design. While all of the levels seemed meticulously designed, there was one stage in particular that stood out to me, and that’s when our heroes are dragged into a magical tome. The level progresses as though you are turning pages in a book, and the parchment background with striking 3-d elements and vibrant color was a striking and impressive achievement. Along the same lines, the music of Trine 3 is a perfect complement of fantasy and whimsy.
With those things in mind, however, there are a number of glaring flaws that are hard to overlook.
First, while previous Trine games have been 2-dimensional, Trine 3 took the step into 3-d. While it made for much more vibrant settings, it also makes for some frustrating situations during gameplay. Quite a few times I found myself falling off cliff edges that I didn’t know were there, or getting my summoned crates crushed by rocks that didn’t seem to line up. The move to 3-d also seems to have negatively impacted the scale and complexity of the puzzles. In previous titles our heroes had more varied skills – Amadeus could summon crates of varying sizes, Pontius had a mighty hammer he could use in certain situations, and Zoya had an arsenal of arrows for different occasions. With Trine 3, these gameplay elements were largely simplified for the sake of the 3-d puzzles.
Not only were gameplay elements simplified, but the puzzles themselves seemed much more simple in nature. While some of them had me scratching my head for a few moments, I will say that the difficulty seemed rather scaled back overall.
Perhaps the most frustrating element of Trine 3 is the playtime. The story begins to pan out and you feel as though you’re being set up for quite the grand adventure in order to recover shards and revive the artifact of soul, only to discover that they wrap up the entire story in a hurry with one final chapter. It would be one thing if the game was just short. There are tons of games out there that boast very short playtimes. It was the fact that it was obviously not supposed to be short. Frozenbyte has commented on the length already, noting that unfortunately they didn’t have the money they needed to make the game as long as they wanted to. Still, it’s not much consolation for gamers watching the end credits wondering what the heck happened to the rest of the game.
Overall, Trine 3 is gorgeous, and has some fun elements that will keep you entertained for a few hours…but that’s about it. The Trine franchise appears to be in some trouble after this whole debacle, so time will tell if we get another Trine title. If we do, I hope the developers learned their lesson and focus their efforts on developing a quality 2-d title, or make sure there’s enough money in the bank to complete a proper 3-d version.