The Trine series has brought joy to many over the years with its co-op puzzling set in a magical realm. And now developers Frozenbyte have returned for a fifth instalment titled Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy. It’s expected to be the most epic adventure to date with more puzzling levels than ever before.
But does Trine 5 live up to its own hype, or is this long standing series actually out of fresh ideas?
Trine 5 opens up with the enchanted heroes of Trine, and beloved protectors of the kingdom, going about their usual daily lives. The master thief Zoya is attempting to get her hands on an ancient treasure map, Pontius is helping out anyone in need like a good knight should, and Amadeus is now a rather depressed wizard, trying to find a way to convince his wife to take him back. The trio are reunited when they receive invites to the famed Astral Academy for a party honouring their efforts over the years.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as it seems – Lady Sunny Crownsdale has a devious plan in place. Causing chaos across the kingdom using a Clockwork army and ruining the reputation of the heroes is just the beginning. Lady Sunny’s big and bold idea is to completely remove their magical powers!
The world of Trine is stunning, especially the brightest of locations as the lighting effects and colours instantly draw the attention of your eyes. A fair few fantastical settings have the wow factor, with truly impressive designs befitting of a fairy-tale. The storytelling is pleasant enough, with a narrative that will make you gasp in shock, interspersed with moments in which you may chuckle along the way. There’s nothing wrong with the voice acting either, as each character’s personality is enhanced. It’s just not engrossing and whatever happens, happens, because you’re likely super focused on the actual gameplay.
The majority of what you do in the twenty levels of the campaign involves puzzling problems to overcome. Of course, platforming elements are integral to the action too as you attempt to traverse the 2.5D environments. In order to aid your quest, the three main characters possess a selection of abilities and the usefulness of them is taught at a pace that’s easy to keep up with.
The core powers beholden by our heroes will be familiar to anyone who’s encountered Trine before – whether that be through Trine 4 or Trine: Ultimate Collection. Pontius is the brute force needed to charge at objects, deflect projectiles to gain safe passage, and smash through obstacles with his sword. Meanwhile the assassin-like Zoya can attach ropes to rings in order to swing across gaps, create a walkway using a rope, and hit targets by firing arrows. And then you have the master conjurer, Amadeus, who summons boxes or planks to ascend to greater heights, activate pressure switches and make bridges.
Such abilities make for rather simple puzzling in the early stages, but that’s fine as it gradually introduces further abilities and new mechanics. Expect to see arrows ricocheting off of surfaces, the addition of a steel ball, and a sword-throwing technique that enables it to become a fixed connection point. Now throw in magnetic zones, objects that can have their gravity reversed and beams of light that need redirecting. The creativity in each and every puzzle is commendable, forcing you to combine numerous powers to find a solution. It’s quite possible that there are multiple ways to achieve success, which is excellent for the sake of variety. The only drawback is that with a whole host of abilities at your fingertips, some solutions appear quite complex and it takes a while to figure out the best approach.
Should the convoluted solutions get the better of you, then sharing the problem with a friend – or three – is the perfect option. While you can go solo on the adventure, everything is better in co-op, and that’s despite the puzzles being tailored to increase the difficulty depending on the number of players. There’s even greater potential for coming up with clever contraptions and you can bodge a solution or two if needed, which often leads to hilarity. Especially when the physics are going crazy because you’re doing something silly. Yet it still somehow works.
Due to the multitude of solutions, and the opportunity to play again with friends, the replayability is pretty good here. Furthermore, vials containing experience to improve character skills are hidden everywhere, alongside a range of interesting collectibles, so there are a lot of things to mop up on extra playthroughs.
One underwhelming aspect of Trine 5 however, is the combat. It’s always felt out of place in the previous games and there’s no difference here in that sense. Whether you’re tackling a ‘boss’ or just a section filled with Clockwork knights and drones, it’s a case of getting through the situations at hand so you can get back to the pure puzzling. Sure, some folk might enjoy swinging a sword at, shooting down, and levitating enemies, but I wouldn’t miss these segments if they weren’t present.
Ultimately though, Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is a co-op puzzling masterclass encapsulated by a wonderfully charming world. If you’ve ever played Trine before, it’s more of the same brilliance in regards to creative platforming puzzles and gorgeous environments. The only thing you have to worry about is overcoming the more complex problems alone and partaking in the battles. Convince a friend to grab Trine 5 as well and you’ll undoubtedly have a blast solving puzzle after puzzle.