PC Previews

Flawed Beauty – Trine 3: The Artifacts Of Power Preview

Since its debut in 2009, I have been a massive fan of Trine. Both the first and second games are some of my favorite indie titles of all time. The beautiful art style, the funny characters, the fantastic platforming and puzzle elements, the wonderful scenery; There just isn’t enough I can say to do it justice. It’s been nearly four years since the release of Trine 2, and we have our third entry in the series — Trine 3: The Artifacts Of Power, the first three levels of which are available now via Steam Early Access for $19.99

Trine 3 is definitely a game changer for the series. While Trine 2 played things safe and kept a lot of the elements and gameplay that we knew and loved from the original, Trine 3 has taken a huge leap forward and made drastic changes to the gameplay.  The most notable change is the addition of fully 3D movement — Levels have depth now. This isn’t just a sidescrolling platformer anymore, it’s more along the lines of a 3rd person adventure. The best comparison I can make to Trine 3 is Crash Bandicoot — They’re strikingly similar in design and overall feel, and I couldn’t be happier about that. It just suits the gameplay perfectly, but yet at the same time, it doesn’t.

Like the previous two games in the series, Trine 3 follows the adventures of Zoya The Thief, Pontius The Knight, and Amadeus The Wizard — Three unlikely heroes whose souls are bound together through a magical artifact known as The Trine. The game starts as Trine 1 and 2 have: The three heroes are doing their own thing, only to be whisked off by The Trine to save the world from impending doom, often against their own wills.

The main draw of Trine is that the three characters are bound together via magic, meaning you can switch between the three at any time to help you solve puzzles and defeat your foes. Amadeus is basically defenseless, but can move objects with his magic, as well as create things like boxes to help you solve puzzles and get through hard platforming sections. Pontius is the best fighter; he can fight enemies with his sword, break through weak walls, or cut through foliage. Zoya is quick and agile; she can use her bow to take enemies on from afar, hit switches, or use her grappling hook to traverse gaps.

All three characters have had a few changes and additions to them, and they’re all very interesting ones at that. Zoya can now use her grappling hook to solve certain puzzles that involve things like pulling doors open and the like. These physics based puzzles are a good idea, but most of the time they ended up infuriating me, as the physics with her grappling ropes aren’t quite right. I spent a staggering amount of time on most of these types of puzzles, and I ended up hating them by the end of the three level preview.

Amadeus’ biggest changes are welcomed changes: Boxes and other objects are created simply with the push of a button, rather than having to be drawn with the mouse –Which was one of my biggest gripes about the original games, as it was often very finicky — and he has some amount of offensive capability now. While lifting an object with his magic, Amadeus can now smash that object to the ground, which can be used for breaking cracked floors, or attacking enemies. These are two changes that I have been waiting for since the original Trine very first came out, and I’m ecstatic to finally see them.

Pontius’ only drastic change is that he can now use his shield to glide through the air and clear large gaps. I was a bit disappointed to see that this mechanic wasn’t really used much other than the first level, because it’s a nice addition and could open up a lot of interesting platforming ideas.

As I stated before, Trine 3 is played from more of a combination of 3rd person and sidescrolling. It really reminds me of the early Crash Bandicoot games in how they looked and controlled. This style of gameplay makes Trine 3 look so much more beautiful and alive than its predecessors, and it adds a bit of spice to the mix to keep environments interesting.

Unfortunately, though, it’s not without its share of problems. Due to the fact that most areas in the game are much more open, I would sometimes have difficulty figuring out where I needed to go or what I needed to do in order to progress. These bigger, opener areas look great, and allow for much more exploration and secrets, but sometimes the path to progressing the game is more hidden than the actual secrets. Most times I’d have to pull off a wacky platforming trick in order to get up to a ledge, but this felt like borderline cheating to me, as it wasn’t really the correct way to progress.

My biggest problem with Trine 3, however, is the reliance on Zoya’s rope puzzles. I stated before that the physics with Zoya’s grappling hook ropes were very strange and finicky, but what makes it worse is how often the game makes you use them to solve voluntary puzzles. It seems like every other puzzle involved using Zoya’s grappling hook, and it got really obnoxious after a while — Especially when some of the puzzles had no clear solution. Either the physics and controls for Zoya’s grappling hook should be make a little more responsive, the puzzles should be a little less vague, or the puzzles themselves should be cut back substantially.

With all that aside, though, the game looks gorgeous and performs wonderfully. Some of the settings in the game just absolutely blew me away with their scope and attention to detail. Don’t even get me started on the scene with the shipwreck on Amadeus’ first level; I was speechless. It was that great. If you’ve read my previous previews, you’ll know that I don’t have the world’s most powerful PC, but even so, Trine 3 runs perfectly on max settings, and that’s a great plus — This game shouldn’t be experienced with anything less.

So is Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power currently worth the $20 pricetag it’s sporting? I’d say yes and no. For three beautiful — and might I add, very long — levels, fun platforming, and mostly interesting puzzles; Yes, it’s worth it. But at the same time, there are some kinks that need to be ironed out, and if you’re not willing to put up with that, I’d stay away for a little while. Maybe at least until more levels have been added.

A Steam Early Access code was provided by Frozenbyte for the purpose of this preview.

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