Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: December 20, 2019
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is an action adventure and puzzle game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is created by Helsinki, Finland based development team Frozenbyte who was founded in 2001; making their debut with the successful PC indie games Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor that released in November 2005 and 2007 respectively that are sci-fi action games that saw the player battling hordes of aliens. The Trine series began in 2009 with Trine 2 following in 2011. A new IP was introduced in October 2014 in the form of a fast-paced old-school platformer called Splot, then collaborating with Frogmind and Blitworks to bring Badland: Game of the Year Edition to home and portable consoles. A return to the Trine series happened in 2015 with an upgraded engine that focused on breathtaking 3D environments in the ambitious Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power. Further new IPs followed including Shadwen which seen a return to the fundamental routes of the stealth genre released in 2016 before action strategy roguelike Has-Been Heroes released in early 2017 and fantasy action adventure Nine Parchments released in late 2017. Can Frozenbyte deliver yet another worthy sequel in the Trine franchise with Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince?
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince retail release includes Trine 4 on disc and a physical printed Trine world map for a recommended retail price of £24.99 or $39.99, while Trine: Ultimate Collection includes all four Trine games on disc, a physical printed Trine world map, a reversible cover sheet, a redeem code for the original soundtrack of the Trine franchise and a redeem code for a digital Trine 4 artbook for a recommended retail price of £39.99 or $49.99.
The story revolves around the three returning heroes of the Trine franchise; attempting to save a young prince named Selius that has mysteriously vanished and bring him back to the Astral Academy, although that is easier said than done as the young prince’s magic has took him on a rapidly downward spiral as is established very early into the story. The story is told over the period of five acts containing a total of 17 chapters including some that conclude with an end level boss.
Earning skill points to level up your three characters makes a welcome return from Trine: Enchanted Edition and Trine 2: Complete Story. Any of the three characters can be levelled up by collecting the required quantity of experience collectibles that are hidden amongst the environments, while some of the experience is harder to obtain as they involve overcoming a puzzle to reach a certain height. Each time you level up; a skill point is earned that can in turn be utilised to improve an ability of any of the three characters. There are 9, 7 and 8 improvements for Amadeus, Zoya and Pontius respectively that can be made by levelling up, although each improvement costs between 1 and 4 skill points that results in the necessity to continuously level up in order to reach the maximum potential of skills for all three characters. However, elemental powers cannot be upgraded until they are unlocked via collecting an ever-increasing amount of stars that are earned by defeating enemies that are part of the quantity of improvements for each character. Skills that can be improved from skill points include Amadeus being able to levitate monsters and conjure two or even three items simultaneously; while Zoya is able to shoot ice and fire arrows from her crossbow; and Pontius is able to charge at enemies and through obstacles, alongside upgrades from the normal sword and shield to a lightning sword and shield.
The three series protagonists return in the form of Amadeus, Pontius and Zoya with their own unique weapons and abilities as Amadeus is a wizard, while Pontius is a brave warrior and Zoya is a thief. Spells, skills and abilities of each of the three characters certainly represent who they are supposed to be. Amadeus as a wizard is able to conjure magic spells to create objects to counter balance weights, therefore enabling him to reach previously unattainable heights and platforms, although he can also use his magic spells to lower objects onto enemies particularly as a quick ambush when out of an enemies’ sight; while Pontius as a brave warrior has no magic spells, but as he wears thick armour he also carries his sword for attacking enemies and a shield to protect him from enemy attacks and falling objects; and Zoya as a thief is able to aim crossbows from afar to defeat her enemies and sneak through areas quickly and away from danger with her grappling hook. Enemy design includes a range of animals and monsters that are created by the young prince Selius’ magic.
Despite there no longer being any 3D environments or layered movement between foreground, middle or far ground as it previously was in Trine 3; Trine 4 still has amazing environments with genuine diversity such as beginning in snowy conditions before moving onto sunnier and rainy weather. Environments include depth to their backgrounds, although there is never any into or out of the screen gameplay as was seen in Trine 3, while there is differing sets of puzzles tailored to each of the three protagonist’s unique skills.
Frozenbyte had a single venture onto the Vita when assisting Frogmind and Blitworks in porting Badland: Game of the Year Edition to PlayStation console, although no IPs created by Frozenbyte such as Shadowgrounds and Trine have ever made their way onto the Vita, but at least remote play is a consolation. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince’s remote play performance retains the graphical qualities, audio and general performance from the PS4 version in single player and multiplayer. However, there is no remote play control optimisation; resulting in levitating objects becoming a rather awkward method of holding the bottom right of the touch screen while simultaneously moving the right analogue stick; choosing between multiple objects to levitate being mapped to the bottom left of the touch screen and tapping the bottom left or right of the rear touch pad to destroy a previously conjured object. Therefore, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince remote play control scheme might take some getting used to as it has not been appropriately optimised, but it can be potentially as entertaining as the PS4 version if you can become accustomed to the remote play control scheme.
The exceptional and most impressive touch pad implementation of all PS4 games found in Trine 2: Complete Story and Trine: Enchanted Edition that allowed players to draw and lift objects as Amadeus, aim and fire Zoya’s crossbow and raise Pontius’ shield is unfortunately missing from Trine 3 in favour of a control scheme centring around the face buttons of the DualShock 4 controller. The face button control scheme is as well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller as the previous three games as it perfectly distinguishes the unique abilities of each character with a control scheme consisting of pressing square to conjure objects; holding R2 to levitate objects; pressing triangle to use Amadeus’ blink ability; pressing square to use Zoya’s grappling hook; pressing R2 to shoot Zoya’s arrow; pressing square or R2 to attack with Pontius’ sword; pressing X to use Pontius’ shield to glide; pressing O to utilise Pontius’ stomp; pressing triangle to use Pontius’ charge; pressing R1 or L1 to change between the three characters; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your chosen character; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to aim; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
Vibration occurs particularly when your character is being attacked by enemies during combat. There is no light bar implementation that could have produced as a neutral colour could have been assigned to each of the three characters for when they are exploring with a particular colour for attacking enemies and a separate colour for when enemies are attacking you, alongside an eerie glow for when Amadeus is casting a spell.
Graphically, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is better than ever with accurately depicted water effects and luscious foliage, lighting and shadow effects, alongside even better character models and animations. However, 3D gameplay environments from Trine 3 do not return and stereoscopic 3D optimisation is a further omission; despite being a major feature of the previous Trine trilogy.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, multiplayer menus, options menus, collections menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds include the playable section of gameplay from the title menu; accompanied by the title logo.
Voice-overs are an essential part of the story driven narrative of the Trine franchise with a returning voice-over cast continuing to perform their roles exceptionally as they bring personality to their respective characters. Terry Wilton provides an amazing story narration having also provided his vocal talents as Father Simeon and Vlad in Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse, the narrator in Dota 2 and Barny in Risen 2: Dark Waters and Risen 3: Titan Lords, while Kevin Howarth voices Amadeus having also voiced Georgie Porgie in The Wolf Among Us and various voice-overs for The Witcher and Venetica. The voice-over talent does not end there though as Victoria Kruger voices Zoya having previously voiced Isabela in Dragon Age II and Inquisition and Brian Bowles who voices Pontius having voiced various roles in Jumping Flash 1 and 2, Heart of Darkness, Genji: Days of the Blade, Heavenly Sword, The Witcher, Overlord II and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Sound effects are wide ranging for each character as they share abilities such as jumping and swimming as well as having their own unique abilities and enemies that have their own sound effects too, alongside ambient sound effects that bring more life to the environments such as weather effects. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is comprised of adventurous music scored by award winning composer Ari Pulkkinen who has previously composed the soundtracks for three prior Trine games with additional music composition from Alexander Dmitriev and Ari Tunes. Despite achieving a phenomenal sense of atmosphere with the audio; there is a lack of DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced the ambient, character or enemy sound effects or perhaps even better yet the narration of the story that would have been a great addition to the quality of the audio by providing a further layer to the atmosphere.
The trophy list includes 40 trophies with 30 bronze trophies, 4 silver trophies, 5 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Almost half of the trophies are earned by completing each chapter, while nearly half of the trophies require lots of puzzles to be solved to collect all experience in each chapter. Harder trophies include the Experienced Hunter gold trophy for collecting all experience; the First Class Delivery gold trophy for collecting all letters; the Treasure Seeker gold trophy for collecting all treasures; and the Bits and Pieces gold trophy for collecting all knickknacks in every chapter. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take around 15 to 25 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are two difficulty levels including easy and normal, while puzzle hint delays are available every 2 minutes or 6 minutes to reduce any potential frustration of not being able to overcome a complex puzzle such as needing to spin cogs through repositioning water, although there is also an option to never be provided with a puzzle hint. Meanwhile, a character mode of classic or unlimited that essentially forms the equivalent of hardcore mode from Trine 2: Complete Story with a limited quantity lives in classic or a respawn period for unlimited.
Local co-operative multiplayer is as fun as it ever has been in the Trine franchise and excels just as much as Trine: Enchanted Edition, Trine 2: Complete Story and Trine 3 as there are extensive local co-operative multiplayer and online co-operative multiplayer experiences spanning every chapter. You can switch from single player gameplay to having a friend join locally at any given time by pressing the options button on their DualShock 4 controller via the drop-in/drop-out co-op system. The debut release of Trine was originally local co-operative with no online functionality as was Trine 3. However, the return of online co-operative multiplayer means single player or local co-operative multiplayer gameplay can be converted into hosting an online multiplayer game from the main menu for public or friends from your friends list to be able to join your game at the level you have currently reached; alternatively you can also join anyone else’s online multiplayer game from the multiplayer menu.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince’s replayability stems from a total of 42 collectibles including 14 letters, treasures and knicknacks, alongside collecting XP to earn skill points needed to level up abilities for three playable characters that urges significant exploration of every environment in all 17 chapters, while local drop-in/drop-out co-operative multiplayer and online co-operative multiplayer for three players will collectively have players returning for quite some time.
• Title: Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince
• Developer: Frozenbyte
• Publisher: Frozenbyte
• System: PS4
• Format: Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-3 (3 Players Offline Co-Op/3 Players Online Co-Op)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 6.20GB (Version 1.01)