Sometimes it can be difficult to innovate a tried and tested action-platformer like the Trine series, but based on a gameplay presentation of Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince at E3 2019, it certainly looks like developer Frozenbyte is on the right track. When Trine 4 was first announced, fans of the series were skeptical, especially after enduring the lackluster third game, which failed to harness the studio's ambition, thus leaving a sour taste in fans' mouths.
Thankfully, though, they're trying to remedy the past with Trine 4. And right off the bat, the first noticeable difference in Trine 4 is the change in dimension. Rather than continue to develop in 3D, as they established with Trine 3, Frozenbyte chose to revert to 2.5D for Trine 4. It's an interesting decision and one that may be seen as a step back for the developer. But after seeing approximately 20 minutes of gameplay, the 3D element isn't sorely missed. In fact, the 2.5D feels like the first measure in a refreshing return to form.
Another change this time around is the number of co-op players, which has been increased to four. However, that doesn't mean a fourth character has suddenly been injected into the game. While that would be an exciting aspect for Trine 4, which could complement the fact that this is the fourth installment in the series, the fourth player would simply double as one of the three characters, all of whom are back in this installment. Based on the two co-op levels that were showcased in the presentation, it's easy to see how four players can come in handy from time to time.
Of course, the biggest and most important changes in Trine 4 are the characters' abilities. They've all been given significant upgrades, but the one character to receive the brunt of the improvements is the knight, Pontius. His most important ability, at least that we've seen thus far, is being able to duplicate his shield and leave it wherever he wants. As one can imagine, having two shields to reflect water and deflect enemy attacks can lead to some fun scenarios. Furthermore, all of the new abilities play into the increased complexity of the puzzles in Trine 4. If the simplicity of previous Trine games was a gripe for you, then you might be satisfied with the new game. Although it's not difficult, there are more pieces involved in solving puzzles now than ever before.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is surely an improvement on Trine 3, but whether or not it can redeem the franchise's name amongst fans remains to be seen. What we saw at E3 2019 was impressive enough to get us excited for another installment, though only because of certain gameplay mechanics. Aesthetically, Trine 4 is a beautiful game, but its poor textures are noticeable enough to warrant concern, especially considering that it's been four years since the previous game released. Overall, though, we're enthusiastic about Trine 4, and we couldn't have said that just a few weeks ago.