The Trine series has been going for years now, and it’s easy to see why, as the franchise offers players the opportunity for plentiful and brilliant co-op physics-based puzzling. An experience that can be enjoyed both online and – more importantly – with local couch play. It’s a series that has also been going from strength to strength – just ignore the weird unfinished third entry that attempted full 3D – and Trine 5 is the best yet.
Our heroes Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief, have been framed for a crime they didn’t commit. They’ll clear their names in the same way they do everything else, walking from left to right and solving puzzles. The first thing you’ll notice from the surrounding screenshots is that the environments of Trine 5 are resplendent. Sumptuously lit, enormously varied, gloriously animated, and cram-packed with detail and visual flourishes; each stage is a joy to explore.
The puzzles are fantastic too, offering the most creative solutions seen in the series thus far. Developers Frozenbyte have really taken the stabilisers off, giving players the freedom to get creative and problem-solve however they want. Character abilities can be combined in unexpected ways, encouraging players to experiment. In fact, so bizarre were some of my partner and I’s methods of clearing a puzzle that we were certain our approach was unique. I doubt it was but that is the feeling that Trine 5 engenders; that you are playing in a fully-stocked laboratory of fun and it’s time to play.
Storyline-wise Trine 5 is the best in the series but only fairly decent by any other standard. It’s entertaining enough but ultimately all too easily skipped. Then there’s the combat, which, once again, is by far the weakest aspect of the Trine offering. Whilst the opponents are more varied – giant rats and roving automatons to name just a few – fisticuffs are still tedious. Attacks have no sense of impact or contact, even Pontius wailing away with his sword lacks any visual heft.
Enemies also don’t react to being hit, they just stand there absorbing damage whilst their health bars deplete. It’s all very flat. Frozenbyte must know this, which is why there are so many unlockable skills intended to enliven proceedings, from exploding magic boxes, to multi-shot arrows and shield slides. The problem is, that using these skills is plain unnecessary. Pontius’ and Zoya’s most basic attacks prove more than adequate for clearing each battle. There are also far too many of these boring combat encounters to endure. Frankly, I would prefer that for Trine 6 combat is dropped entirely. It really adds nothing to proceedings.
Trine 5 is also unnecessarily fussy when switching between single and multiplayer modes. What should be a simple case of dropping in and out becomes a convoluted quit and restart situation. Why you can’t just have players come and go and the game adjusts accordingly is beyond me.
Final thoughts: the option to have up to four players play as the same character is chaotic genius. Watching a quartet of Zoya’s launch ropes, swing everywhere, and break every puzzle is a joy to behold!