A fat Knight, a mostly incompetent wizard, and an improbably proportioned female Rogue walk into a 3 dimensional Bar.
Because, well, now they can.
In Trine 3, our trio of Heroes have returned for another round of co-operative mystical puzzle solving and this time, they have a whole new mathematical plan to explore. As a fan of earlier entries to the series, I was eager to jump into the familiar worlds’ new found depth. Seconds after starting the game I was struck by what Trine has always done inarguably well, which is to have a gorgeous and cohesive visual style.
Trine gives players a sense of story book magic come to life, which is a joy to experience with every screen. To players new to the series, think of Lionhead studios at their best, Fable and Black and White, characters that are cartoonish yet still lush with vitality and locations that glow with imagination match with music which mirrors this playful fantasy style.
Exploring the game with new levels of freedom was fantastic to play initially, feeling like such a natural progression for the series. Motion through this rich world is intuitive and welcoming; jumping, grappling, casting and clashing are all responsive enough to make the platforming elements a pleasure, and the game world is all the more absorbing for our newfound ability to move deeper, instead of always just further along.
However this sensation will last right up until you run into a few of the games camera blocks.
The transition into full 3D has not come off without a hitch for Frozenbyte, the openness of space is a double edged sword for the player, as it has suddenly become a lot easier for frustrating death because of a camera failing to track your character behind an obstacle or a poorly defined world edge. While it’s working, the game is pure light hearted fun, but can easily slip into frustration as it falls over its own feet.
The story of the Trine 3 isn’t spectacular, which in a way is a blessing because we definitely are not given time to fully explore it. The campaign mode is modest in length at best, which wouldn’t be such an issue if we weren’t given so little else to do, except finish the main story.
Each Level is littered with Trineangles (we will forgive the pun), glowing objects which act as the games score system / currency, and are used to unlock each new chapter. Between Levels, we are taken to an (admittedly lovely) woodcut world map, which a miniature version of one of our characters will run between.
This would seem to be the natural point for the game to allow us to engage in character building / spending our in game currency, engaging in the world beyond the rigid parameters of completing the story, unfortunately this is not what we are allowed to do.
In fact in Trine 3 we have no character skill trees whatsoever, which is a departure from previous titles. Our ingame currency is used only to unlock the next mission. While Trine has never lent heavily on traditional RPG roots, abandoning them completely gives the player very little to differentiate between characters, except for the most superficial of abilities.
This sensation bleeds into the multiplayer, which like the solo experience, is as fun as ever to start out, but too often highlights the awkwardness of clashing mechanics.
It is an unfortunate reality of the gaming world; that sometimes we really don’t want to see what is behind the curtain.
Gaming essentially relies on a tacit understanding between player and developer, that we won’t try climb over that ridge, or try and open that door that we can’t interact with, or attempt to swim too far into the open sea, because to do so would break our immersion.
However it is always frustrating to be invited to explore new found depths in a game, only to find yourself frustrated once you do so. Trine 3 is a beautiful world that we are tantalised with and begged to explore, yet once we do so, are occasionally left wishing it had been left to our imagination.
Trine 3 often exemplifies what is best about this whimsical, puzzle solving series but in attempting to move forward as a series, has run into some definite teething problems. Its world is larger and more vibrant than ever. But the magic, alas, fades faster.