In the continuing vein of “I can’t believe I missed this” style of posts I’ve been writing lately Trine 5 stands out as one that really shouldn’t be in the series. Now spanning some 13 years the IP feels right at home with the other redemption arcs we’ve been seeing more of lately, Trine 3 the unfortunate black mark that was scrubbed clean by the release of Trine 4. I hadn’t considered the question of what would come next for the series though as each game has, more or less, been a standalone title in its own right. Well now we’ve got our answer: more of the same but done with ever increasing amounts of environmental detail, bigger focus on the co-op side of things and just a more grander experience. It’s not exactly innovative but at the same time I don’t think it needs to be; not for the people like us who’ve basically been playing the same version of this game for well over a decade.

The heroes of Trine are once again off again doing their own things. Amadeus is once again in hot water with his wife, having been cast out again and taking up residence at a local spa. Pontius is off doing his knightly duties as well as he can, defending the kingdom from threats both real and imaginary. Zoya still can’t leave her old thieving ways behind and finds herself caught red handed by a librarian when trying to pilfer a map from their collection. All the while strange clockwork knights have been appearing over the kingdom, the new Queen adamant that they’re the future. Still she recognises the effort of those who came before and invites the heroes of Trine to a ceremony in their honor. That turns out to be a dastardly trick and the heroes of Trine find themselves in a battle to save the kingdom once again.

The Trine series has always prided itself on its distinctive visual style, one that has grown with the times to become ever more gradiouse and spectacular. As with every iteration the environments have become bigger and more detailed, the lighting effects more varied and complex and the colours more vibrant and diverse. It’s actually kind of a shock when you have to dump out into the menu or another UI element as they just don’t really feel like they’re in the same universe as the graphics on screen. Performance is good too, even when the game attempts to load you up with enemies I didn’t notice any frame tears or drops in FPS. It really has been something to watch this series grow its visual experience over the years.

All that was old is new again in Trine 5 with the core gameplay mechanics being the same as they ever were. The 3 heroes of Trine still maintain their base archetype but the slight tweaks and changes made in Trine 4 remain present in this one. All of the characters have some role to play in both combat and puzzle solving, giving a bit more variety to the overall experience. The talent tree is a little bit more diverse, keeping in the standard quality of life improvements whilst also throwing in a couple interesting options for you to try out slightly different playstyles should that tickle your fancy. Co-op is still very much baked into the game’s core with many puzzles being quite a lot easier if you happen to bring a friend or two along. This being said though if this is the first time you’re hearing about Trine it’s still not a bad time to get into the series, the game easing you into every mechanic that it introduces. It’s more of the Trine we love in all respects.

Combat is slightly more varied and interesting than it previously was but it’s still very much not the core focus of the game. Early on things can have a little challenge to them as you don’t have everyone’s combat abilities online. On the flip side though most combat encounters early on only consist of a couple enemies, so you’re unlikely to face any kind of brick wall that you can’t get past. At a certain point though you can lay waste to enemies as quickly as they can spawn so combat ends up being just another run of the mill puzzle you have to solve. The boss fights do add a bit of variety to this although, again, they kind of just end up being a slightly different kind of puzzle rather than a strategic combat engagement.

Trine 5 follows the beats of 4 pretty closely from a puzzle/mechanic perspective. Each chapter sees one of your characters get a new ability of some sort, like elemental arrows for Zoya or a reflective shield for Pontius, and the vast majority of puzzles following that will be based around that mechanic. There’s a handful of multi-mechanic puzzles thrown in here or there, but mostly you’ll be looking for a solution that uses that new mechanic as a base. Towards the end you do tend to get more of those multi-solution ones but at the same time you’re also so well equipped with talents that some of them become moot. Indeed some things like Amadeus’ double jump combined with Pontius’ charge in the air can ensure that most gaps you come across can simply be navigated without having to solve any of the requisite puzzle elements.

Which has kind of become a mainstay of the game’s overall appeal at this point. Earlier instalments were utterly, utterly broken by some of the core mechanics like being able to fly anywhere with Amadeus just by stacking two boxes on top of each other. The devs do seem to have solved that particular issue, something I never thought they’d be able to do, but they give you so many other tools to fool around with that you can accomplish basically the same thing if you’re so inclined. There’s really no way to stop someone from hitting the skybox once they’ve unlocked Amadeus’ 5 summoned objects plus Zoya’s floating ring thing.

As you’d expect this still comes along with a small dose of unintended problems with certain puzzles. There are solutions that look like they should work but, upon trying them, it becomes a fiddly nightmare of physics interactions that seems to go nowhere. This is perhaps my fault for butting my head up against these problems trying to force that particular solution to work because, unfortunately, sometimes they did and so my dumb monkey brain couldn’t see other options until I’d wasted a good 10 minutes on it. Of course once you take a step back from it and think logically you’ll usually figure out why that particular solution shouldn’t work, but that sure as shit didn’t stop me from trying it again.

Trine 5’s overall story is once again more thought out but it’s still very much a background to the heroes’ banter and the actual game itself. I honestly couldn’t give you the names of the two protagonists, their motivations and dialogue being rather one-dimensional when compared to the heroes of Trine talking to each other throughout the game. I don’t count this too harshly though, the story fading into the background means that each of the Trine games is its own self contained thing, not requiring you to play through over 10 years worth of other games just to understand whats going on. I can’t even really think of another long running IP that’s done that…

Trine 5 gives us more of what we’ve always enjoyed about the series: a visual extravaganza with a solid (if breakable) puzzle experience that’s approachable to a wide variety of gamers. At this point it seems trite to recap what the game is because it is simply more of the same. There are precious few IPs these days that can get away with doing that and maintain such a faithful audience as Trine seems to have.

Rating: 8.25/10

Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch and PC right now for $39.95. Total play time was 13.1 hours with 46% of the achievements unlocked.

About the Author

David Klemke

David is an avid gamer and technology enthusiast in Australia. He got his first taste for both of those passions when his father, a radio engineer from the University of Melbourne, gave him an old DOS box to play games on.

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