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Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Modus Games
Developer: Frozenbyte
Release Date: Oct. 8, 2019


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 10, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Featuring an all-new story that reunites Amadeus, Pontius, and Zoya, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince returns to the magic of 2.5D with the puzzle-platforming gameplay that defined a genre in Trine 1 and 2.

Pre-order Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power wasn't what fans expected. The move to 3D made for some gorgeous visuals but clunkier gameplay, and the lack of skill trees made the affair feel too simplified for those who stuck with the series for the first two titles. It was a fine game but a difficult entry to recommend. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince promises to be a return to form, and from what we saw in the last preview build before its launch next month, it looks like those promises have been fulfilled.

The setup for the game is in line with the previous titles, minus the Trine itself being the uniting factor for the heroes. The kingdom's three heroes — Pontius the knight, Zoya the thief, and Amadeus the wizard — have received letters from the headmaster of a magic academy who's seeking help. A prince who had been studying magic at the academy had unleashed the power of a forbidden book, and as a result, he's possessed by spirits and unleashes spirits wherever he goes. What starts as a rescue mission becomes one where the heroes need to work together to save the kingdom.

The main tenets of the game have remained the same. While you have portions of combat, especially with the presence of bosses at the end of a few levels, Trine 4 is mostly centered on being a puzzle platformer, with almost all of the puzzles centering on how you can get your adventurers from point A to point B by any means necessary. When playing solo, that means switching between characters, exploiting their many abilities to solve the puzzle. For example, Zoya can use her rope to swing from hooks and create rope bridges or shoot down something with her arrows. Pontius can use his brute strength to break things down with a charge or use his weight to slam down on objects or enemies. Amadeus can levitate objects or create crates out of thin air.

There are some new additions that were present in the preview build that would excite fans. For example, some of the characters received new moves and abilities. Pontius can now use his shield to reflect light. Amadeus can teleport a short distance using his blink ability. Zoya can fire off some elemental arrows; freezing arrows were shown off in this build.

Multiplayer has also gotten some significant changes. For starters, the multiplayer count has grown from three to four, either locally or online. For a game featuring three heroes, that seems like an odd number to have until you discover that the game lets multiple people pick the same person. You can go for something sensible, like having two copies of Pontius while also having one Amadeus and one Zoya. You can also go a bit nuts by excluding one character altogether or having all four players play as one character. No matter what combo you choose, Trine 4 is still good about ensuring that the puzzles can be solved in multiple ways, so no one will get stuck in a level due to lacking a key character.

For longtime players of the series, the most exciting part of the game will be the return to everything from the first and second titles. The skill trees are back, so going out of your way to collect pick-ups in the world means something again, since they help you unlock more abilities. The game is presented in 2D once more, so controls are less finicky, and accuracy isn't much of an issue. While that may not seem like a big deal to newcomers, those who played and didn't enjoy the third game will find the regression to be better and more familiar.

So far, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is exactly what fans want from the series. Everything that was there from the first two games is back, with some new abilities in tow to keep the puzzle-solving fresh. The co-op is also welcome, and the ability to clone the heroes and the addition of one more player means that things can be even more chaotic in a fun way. With a presentation that remains as vivid and stunning as ever, Trine 4 is one to look out for. Thankfully, it won't be too long before the public can see this for themselves.

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