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Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power review

Katharine Byrne
27 Aug 2015
Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
16
inc VAT

Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power is a smart, if brief, puzzle platformer that's cut short by its ambitious design

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Specifications

Available formats: PC

Platform games often live or die in the transition from two dimensions to three, so there was always going to be an element of risk in expanding Frozenbyte’s high fantasy physics puzzler into 3D. Rather than throw caution to the wind, however, the studio enlisted the help of its players, opening up the game to Steam's Early Access scheme to give early testers a say in what was in store for the next instalment of the Trine series.

What emerged as Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power shows Frozenbyte at the height of its creativity with a more refined and tightly focused platformer than either of its forebears. Every puzzle takes on new life now that players can interact in 360 degrees, and each one makes full use of the three heroes' new abilities. In a way, we needn't have worried, but it wasn't long before that initial sense of wonder gave way to something more troubling.

Trine 3 Artifacts of Power screenshot03

^ Enemies come in all shapes and sizes in Trine 3, but boss fights will require the skills of all three characters

The game is short - so lean, in fact, that it ends just as the story prepares to hit its second act - the cost of those extra polygons proving to be a far greater evil than the game's new villain Sarek, who has shattered the mystical Trine into four pieces, sending our heroes on a quest to rebuild it. Frozenbyte has admitted as much on the game's Steam Community page, citing escalating development costs as the main reason behind the abrupt ending. The rest of the game isn't even planned as DLC either, as the very future of the series is now being called into question.

This is a real shame, particularly when there wasn't even the slightest hint of trouble during Trine 3's Early Access period. As much as Frozenbyte's honesty in the matter is appreciated, I can't help but feel disappointed that the studio's ambitious plans have clearly got the better of them. Still, even though the game never reaches its full potential, that's not to say that Trine 3's brief adventure isn't worth the journey, as even its handful of levels show that Frozenbyte's platforming prowess is as sharp and elegant as ever.

Trine 3 Artifacts of Power screenshot02

^ You'll have to work together when playing Trine 3 in local or online multiplayer, as there's less opportunity to switch between characters compared to single player mode

Admittedly, part of that elegance is the result of a dramatically reduced move pool. Trine 2's in-depth levelling system appears to be yet another casualty of the move to 3D. However, the abilities that do make the cut give each hero much greater purpose than before. Pontius becomes a more capable and natural fighter now that he can fend off attacks in all directions, and Zoya's newfound lasso skills give her grappling hook equal billing to Amadeus' magical boxes when it comes to solving puzzles.

The latter is a particularly welcome change, as previously Zoya's main strength was her speed and dexterity, allowing her to swing across large gaps with ease and pick off enemies from afar with her bow. However, with Trine 3's ever-decreasing focus on high-pressure combat, the need for a second offensive character becomes less apparent, allowing the studio to concentrate on finding ingenious ways to tax your brain.

Trine 3 Artifacts of Power screenshot01

^ Pontius has a new charge attack for Trine 3, allowing him to smash into enemies as well as fight them off with his sword and shield

For instance, as well as using the grapple hook to open trap doors above you, you can also pull platforms out toward you, creating new paths as you travel deeper into Trine 3's lush and pliable set pieces. Frozenbyte make excellent use of physics here, too, with heavy doors that can be levered open by attaching the opposite end of Zoya's rope to other nearby posts and objects, often in conjunction with boxes conjured by Amadeus. It's sad to see that Amadeus can’t create platforms as well as crates now, but when you're already using every control input going just to manoeuvre a box through a 3D space, it's entirely understandable that rotatable platforms were probably a step too far.

It's not something you really notice either, as the challenge stages littered across the overworld map are designed to make the most of each character's specific skill set. While the main quest lets you switch between each character at will, challenge maps are limited to one character only, showing off what they can do when pushed out of their naturally defined roles. For instance, Amadeus proves surprisingly lethal when you're tasked with fighting off hordes of monsters with his levitating blocks, while Pontius' gliding kite shield often gives him as much grace and elegance as Zoya when you're skulking through a platform-heavy dungeon.

Trine 3 Artifacts of Power screenshot

^ The last story mission is set in a giant forest and is one of the game's best and most stunning locations - bested only by the preceding cell-shaded level set inside a story book

With all three so equally balanced, it makes playing in local and online multiplayer a real pleasure, as Frozebyte's myriad of different puzzle solutions remains wholly intact. Admittedly, solo players might not have quite so many light bulb moments, as the freedom to switch between each character often negates the need to think so creatively, but it's a small complaint when the world is so lovingly rendered (especially on maximum settings) and such a joy to behold.

It's just a shame that it all ends so suddenly, as it never really feels like Trine 3 comes into its own. Frozenbyte is clearly capable of achieving so much more with 3D platforming, but it would be a hugely disappointing if this is indeed the end of such a fantastic series. With so much left unsaid, Trine 3 narrowly misses out on a full recommendation, but it's still great fun while it lasts, and fans of the series should relish every last detail. 

Availability
Available formatsPC
PC Requirements
OS SupportWindows Vista, 7, 8 and 10
Minimum CPUIntel Core i3/i5/i7 1.8 GHz CPU dual-core, AMD 2.0 GHz dual-core
Minimum RAM4GB
Minimum GPUNVIDIA GeForce 260, Radeon HD 4000 Series, Intel HD Graphics 4000
Hard disk space6GB
Buying Information
Price including VAT£16
Supplierwww.store.steampowered.com
Detailswww.frozenbyte.com
Product codeN/A

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