Once upon a time, there was a wizard and a knight and a rogue, who teamed up and saved the kingdom from a series of apocalyptic events with some strategically (if also somewhat implausibly) positioned boxes. Their happily ever after, however, has now been cancelled because – would you know it – a new apocalyptic event has started, and it’s up to our hero protagonists Amadeus, Pontius, and Zoya to get back into the box business.
If you missed out on the first and second games (the third one doesn’t count), you’ve… missed out. Much like The Lost Vikings, Trine mashes up platforming and physics-based puzzle-solving – each character has their own different abilities, and you use these in combo to deal with obstacles and whatever as you move from one side of the screen to the next. But unlike Blizzard’s game, this one has much more flexibility and opportunity for creative thinking. The box thing, for example. That’s Amadeus’s special skill, and most of the time, you can keep conjuring boxes to accomplish a task. Not necessarily because it’s an obvious or even simple solution to the problem, but because it’s fucking hilarious. If it doesn’t feel like you’re constantly breaking the game with unintended, perhaps even inconceivable, uh, “experiments”, you’re doing it wrong.
Trine 4 supports solo and local or online co-op for up for four players, but if you’re playing this game solo, you’re also doing it wrong. The real fun of this game is the unexpected ingenuity and megalolz of partying up with friends, and improvising absurd schemes that absolutely wouldn’t – or shouldn’t – work in some other game, but work in Trine. But to reiterate, even spamming boxes is not an instant fix for every predicament, and we got stuck on one puzzle for almost an hour.
Characters can also be upgraded with collectible XP thingies distributed throughout the game, some of which require, you know, a lot of tactical boxes. And although Trine is not a difficult game and you could probably finish it without ever boosting a character, these upgrades do make for even more silliness. One more box? Yes, please.
And, omg, it’s gorgeous. Trine 4 is a neon-narcotic trip, every level a dreamy sequence of saturated colour and charming fairy tale kitsch. In a generation increasingly preoccupied with 3D, the game’s retro 2.5D aesthetic and gameplay mechanics represent a mesmerising celebration of old school nostalgia and innovation of established genre tropes at the same time.
If the game has one fault, it’s the superfluous and kind of boring combat. Boss fights? It’s got those, but I couldn’t tell you why. Trine is about boxes, not bosses.