You’re a Wizard, Thief, and Knight, Harry!
Having never played a title in the Trine series prior to Trine 3:The Artifacts of Power, I would never have guessed it to be a puzzle platformer. Yes, I realize I had a few years to figure this out considering the first Trine title came out in 2009. When the game came across my metaphorical desk I assumed I was about to play an RPG like the half-wit I am. I was pleasantly surprised, and the use of fantasy tropes in a genre not known to foray into Tolkien-esque storytelling really works. Call it blasphemy, but I had a hell of a lot more of an adventure swinging from hooks, gliding on shields, and exploring gorgeous environments using magic rather than constantly crunching numbers and making menu selections.
Let me get a few things out of the way early on. Yes, the campaign isn’t very long, and yes, the price may be a bit steep to some people for such a short game. The story line isn’t great, either, but we’ll get back to all of this. What I really want to focus on is how many things Trine 3 gets right.
Trine is the story of three archetypes who touch a magical flying piece of magic and derive magical powers from the magic. Once the group gathered the magical powers they joined forces and you can warp in and out of each character with the tap of a shoulder button. For the first archetype we have the Knight. His name is Pontius and he smashes stuff, he hits stuff hard, he shields stuff, and he can glide with his shield. Oh, and he likes to save sheep. He’s basically two thirds of the Lost Vikings. After Pontius we have Zoya the thief. Zoya is like the groups Spider Man in that she has a grappling hook and it was the only thing I wanted to use the entire game. Aside from swinging from everything like she’s Bionic Commando, she can also use the grappling hook to tie things together and open doors. She has a bow, too, but it is a pain in the ass plus the auto aim doesn’t work very well. I used it when necessary but the important part is the grappling hook. Our final character is the Amadeus the Wizard who has my favorite character explanation in fantasy history. Basically, Amadeus studied hard to be a wizard for about eight seconds, learned to lift stuff with his brain and make boxes, then opted to stop there. I feel you, Amadeus, studying is hard. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Trine 3’s story feels like the creators developed the mechanics then tried to write a story around it.
Sarcastic as I’ve been about the story, this is all fine considering I had a blast playing Trine 3. My attention span has been shot for many years, but somehow the “oooooo SHINY” of the graphics and exploration throughout really pulled my brain into the Trine world. The game is basically get from point A to point B whilst collecting shards of magic, but it’s done in a very stylish and fun way. The levels in the game were pretty lengthy, and the puzzles weren’t too easy or too challenging. Most of the puzzles consist of pushing multiple buttons, shifting weight on platforms, and all sorts of classic platforming.The really interesting thing about the puzzles in Trine 3 is they give the player a lot of agency. Most puzzle platformers I’ve played have one solution and you have to stick to it. There were many occasions in Trine 3 where I was able to figure out a solution to the problem using whichever character I felt. This doesn’t make the game easy, but what’s great about this is the fact that i actually got to have fun the way I wanted to. I may have mentioned before that I enjoyed using the grappling hook. This means if you like making boxes and throwing them with the wizard chances are you’ll be able to do many of the puzzles doing just that. The only time I felt forced to use one character’s move set were in the levels where you only get to use one character. Howboutthat?
This is the first Trine title to step outside of the 2.5D style of gameplay. The actual use of 3D in Trine 3 isn’t spotless, but it certainly made a great effort. The trouble with making platformers 3D is it can be taxing to figure out depth. Trine 3 suffered from this a few times, but death thankfully death isn’t that big a deal and it doesn’t set you back far enough to get frustrated. There were a few occasions where I’d drop a box with the wizard just to check where I was on the plane and then go for the jump. Other times this works really nicely because it allows the game to expand on the puzzles by having more space. Early in the game you are given the opportunity to throw a hanging boulder and smash all the walls around you which is nice and satisfying.
I’ll admit, the ending was disappointing. I was really invested by the time it all stopped, but that didn’t mean the hours I spent playing the game were wasted. I wish there were more of the game, which is a strong reaction to have. The game is a still sight to behold, I can not express how pretty the game looks. Despite what many folks may say the game clearly had a lot of time and energy poured into it and I’m glad this was my first Trine game so I can go back and experience the first two while looking forward to future installments. It isn’t perfect by any means, but I’m hooked and look forward to future titles in the series to satiate what Trine 3 left over. I may have finished it in one sitting (One long sitting, I may add) but Trine 3 is fun from front to back.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed), Steam; Publisher: Frozenbyte; Developer: Frozenbyte; Players: 1-3 local/online; Released: August 25, 2015 ; MSRP: $21.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power provided by the game’s publisher, Frozenbyte.