Frozenbyte's Trine 5 is the newest member of the famous platform puzzle game series. The well-known heroes of the series, Amadeus the Wizard, Zoya the Thief, and Pontius the Knight, have so far successfully dealt with threats from undead, goblins, otherworldly spirits, and living nightmares. This time, however, they face even more dangerous forces, those of political intrigue, scheming, and technological advancement.
The innovative Clockwork Knights are tasked with ensuring order and protecting the kingdom, seemingly overnight. They are tireless, they are well-trained, they are always loyal to their duty. What could possibly go wrong?
In this environment, some respectable citizens of high status and even higher ambitions decide that their unorthodox methods and inappropriate hobbies, especially Zoya's, are not suitable for heroes. So the familiar gang suddenly finds itself wanted, and runs to prove the diabolism against them.
The series attempted to take a different step technologically and functionally with Trine 3 by going to three dimensions, which didn't work out. It's no surprise then that after going back to the drawing board with Trine 4, Trine 5 sticks to the same 2.5D style we already know from Trine 1.
So having returned to what they know best, the people at Frozenbyte continue to deliver beautiful environments. In the fourteen years (oh yeah) since the release of Trine 1, 2D platform and metroidvania games have blossomed, and they've released many gorgeous games in these categories. At the same time, always taking Trine 3 to the outside, the style and graphic design signature of the series has remained the same for many years, and Trine 5 doesn't attempt any changes. There's no doubt that it's a feast for the eyes, one of the most beautiful games within the fairytale fantasy genre - it's just impossible to impress the veteran in the way that Trine 1 and Trine 2 did.
Music and voice acting are also in familiar patterns, and of high quality. The gameplay also remains practically the same as Trine 4. The entire game is focused on how to traverse seemingly inaccessible paths and solve environmental puzzles, making use of our heroes' unique abilities - conjuring and levitation for Amadeus, grappling hook and arrows for Zoya, sword and shield for Pontius.
Throughout the game, at regular intervals, our heroes acquire new abilities, which are also upgraded with the xp collected at each level, so that towards the end of the adventure they have access to a really wide range of tools available to tackle the game's obstacles. At this point there is a lack of balance. The varied skills all range from useful to necessary for solving the game's puzzles - but the same is not the case with the platforming part of the game, as Amadeus' basic conjuring, when combined with the wind jump ability that can be unlocked very early on, makes traversal challenges easy and Zoya and Pontius' related skills almost unnecessary. There is of course the counterargument that I personally argue, that anyone looking for perfect balance in a game of this kind that is more focused on physics-based fun than precision, is missing the point, but as a reviewer I feel I have to mention it.
I note that at any time, we can choose to return to a previous level with all new powers at our disposal. This may make the level easier, but it doesn't give access to new areas or the ability to find collectibles that were previously inaccessible, as is the case in metroidvania games that also have the element of gradually acquiring new powers.
So the platforming part of Trine 5 is pretty accessible, but I can't say the same for the puzzle solving, which of course starts from easy, relatively quickly goes to medium difficulty level, and after the middle of the game doesn't hesitate to introduce some real puzzles, to the point where it exceeded my expectations - at first I was thinking that since there is no puzzle that can't be solved within the screen in which it is presented, how complicated can it get anymore? The answer is, it can get quite a bit, and Trine 5 will certainly test your imagination in the combination of abilities that certain puzzles require.
I almost forgot to mention the third element of Trine 5's gameplay, the combat - it was the most uninteresting part of Trine 4 and unfortunately there is no improvement in Trine 5, with really little enemy variety, a simplistic combat system, and some boss fights that don't improve the situation but are at least visually impressive.
Of course I can't not mention that there is the possibility for online co-op play. In theory this is one of the most fun things to try in Trine 5. Practically my attempts at random matchmaking always ended up finding teammates I couldn't get along with, so for now no treasure at the end of the rainbow - but I can't wait until friends buy the game, that's where co-op should logically shine.
Where there can be no complaints is in the content offered. There are 20 levels - one is a pure boss fight and three can be considered introductory since we don't control all three heroes, leaving 16 full-sized levels, more than the already rich Trine 4, at least at the initial release without the DLC. Given the difficulty, I consider 15 hours as the minimum playtime, and those like me who take a completionist approach may even double that.
There's no doubt that the new Trine offers plenty of fun for fans of the series, and the formula is so well executed that it will delight newcomers if they decide to start with Trine 5. As a veteran, I'd like to see in an eventual sequel, not drastic changes, but an improvement in the combat system, which is simply uninteresting.