Review: Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power (PS4)

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Title: Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power
Format: PlayStation Network Download (4.2 GB)
Release Date: December 22, 2015
Publisher: Frozenbyte
Developer: Frozenbyte
Original MSRP: $21.99 (US), €21.99 (EU), £17.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 12
Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power is also available on PC, Mac, and Linux.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power is also available as part of the Trine Trilogy for $29.99.

I completed the two games that preceded Trine 3: Artifacts of Power, with the help (and occasional hindrance) from my two girls. We all eagerly picked up our controllers and jumped into the latest adventure from Frozenbyte.

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Gameplay:
The first three levels reintroduce you to the reluctant heroes one by one and the reason for their latest adventure. Even if you’ve played the previous games, things are a little different now, some better and sadly, one or two worse. Story has never been a selling point in this series but it seems like there has been an attempt to get to know our characters after all this time.

Controls and character abilities have been simplified a bit compared with the older games. For example, Amadeus the wizard can no longer make different sized cubes and planks when you draw on the touchpad. In fact, planks are totally out of the game now and it’s just a standard sized cube. Zoya the thief can now grapple two objects together. This works very well in a few areas and is a nice addition.

… over all too quickly …
Amadeus can still levitate objects but again, this is awkward and strangely uncontrollable at times. On one occasion, I selected a crate that I needed to move so we could jump on it to reach the exit, each time I selected the crate it flew off the side of the screen. My daughter swapped characters and another appeared, she had a clone character that copied her every move, it was funny at first but then got very annoying.

Now for my biggest complaint, Trine 3 is over all too quickly. What makes it worse is the first few levels start off so well and with tremendously high production values. Things taper off slightly after that but the quality is still good, but you can see the end all too quickly. Part of you hopes it’s a lie, a clever fabrication woven into the big beautiful level select area, but sadly it isn’t.

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It wouldn’t be a Trine game without some clever physics based puzzles and there were some brilliant uses of the more spacious environment. The enemies still have the same ragdoll physics from the older games and their corpses often get caught on the scenery causing the limbs to flail and judder. Some look quite imposing and wouldn’t look out-of-place in an episode of Doctor Who.

There are plenty of ‘Trineangles’ to collect during the adventure with many hidden out of sight or behind breakable walls and crates. These orange glowing triangles unlock later levels and challenges and while you do need a large amount to reach the last couple of areas, you don’t have to find every last one – unless you want the Trophy of course.

… another jaw-dropping example of this underused technology …
Obtaining the coveted Platinum Trophy definitely isn’t as hard in this game compared with the last two, in part due to the short length. There are also no crazy outlandish feats to struggle with just for a measly bronze trinket. I’m not saying the game is easy but an experienced Trine player will find all the usual puzzles and pitfalls that they’ve grown accustomed to over the years and could breeze through the game.

Visuals:
The developers at Frozenbyte are masterful in the graphical artistry that flows through each one of their games. Their talents culminate in Trine 3 in what can only be described as spectacular. Not only is this beautiful Discworld-esque experience a joy to behold but you can also view it in 3D. Yes, dust off those glasses and marvel at another jaw-dropping example of this underused technology.

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Each of the previous games in the series were primarily a 2.5D side scrolling platformer whereas Trine 3 has over ambitiously moved to a very linear 3D world. The move to a 3D space works extremely well in certain areas, especially when gliding and swinging into the far-reaching background or exploring a shipwreck on a golden beach.

Things can become slightly frustrating, as the camera doesn’t always keep all of you on-screen. My youngest often got stuck behind a wall or even in front of the camera until we backtracked and ran around to find her misplaced character.

… it’s almost as if they just ran out of time and money …
All’s not lost as the second and third players can easily drop-out of the game with a simple press of the Options button, another press and they return in the same location as player one, safe and sound.

The move to a snaking level layout is wonderful but not without its problems. I mentioned earlier about the camera when more than one player is running around, but now the added depth means more jumping and aiming errors. A questionable lock-on system can help but not enough to ease frustration of an inexperienced gamer.

Audio:
Voice talent remains the same and you still get a short introduction to each level and challenge before they begin. There just isn’t enough of a fleshed out story here, due in part to the lack of levels, it’s almost as if they just ran out of time and money. Music and audio effects feel very similar to Trine 2, which isn’t a bad thing as I really enjoyed the last game.

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Online/Multiplayer:
At the moment there is no online multiplayer, only three player couch co-op. I always preferred the other players to be in the same room anyway whilst playing the older games and so don’t feel like I’m missing out. I’m sure a few fans of the series will disagree.

As I mentioned earlier, you can drop in and out of player one’s game whenever you wish. Unlike the last two games, you all can be the same character. It can be slightly confusing, having three wizards running around with only a different colour to their clothing to help distinguish each of them.

… feels like the only Trine game that is better to experience alone …
We all found ourselves at one point or another, watching the wrong player as our own was aimlessly running and jumping into a wall or worse still, into a pit of spikes.

Even though the PlayStation 4 requires you to sign in when turn on a second or third controller the game does not allow anyone but the first player to earn trophies. It seems like a crazy exclusion but then again, this feels like the only Trine game that is better to experience alone.

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Conclusion:
Frozenbyte has delivered another beautiful game of Trine that looks as if it were set in a wonderful Discworld-esque fantasy. Surprisingly Trine 3: Artifacts of Power retains some of the clumsy control mechanics from the series, even after an attempt to streamline the experience. It isn’t all bad, as there are some truly spectacular moments and set-pieces that some of the beautifully crafted levels were built around.

I fear the developers had their sights set too high, and while they did reach a spectacular plateau they just couldn’t stay up all that long. Fans of the series shouldn’t hesitate to grab this as they’ll still find everything that they enjoy. 3D aficionados should put this on their list of must see experiences. Everyone else should consider it, just be aware of the potential issues and the painfully short length.

What is it that they say? It’s not the size that counts, it’s what you do with it that matters. Well Frozenbyte definitely doesn’t have the longest but it looks flipping great and I can’t help playing it.

Score:
6.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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