Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power is the 2015 release, and newest addition, for the Trine series that has received more than a handful of awards for it's beautiful environments and fun gameplay. Developed and published by Frozenbyte, you'll play as three hero protagonists; Zoya, the thief who can swing throughout the environments, Pontius, the shielded knight warrior, and Amadeus, the wizard who possesses the power to move around boxes. The same characters who were the main focus throughout the first two Trine games. In this particular title, the hero's have accidentally unleashed an incredibly powerful and evil force when they fail trying to give their powers back to Trine.
If you're familiar with the series, you'll know that it usually plays in 2D, side scrolling, fashion. This title brings a new depth to everything as you'll explore the foregrounds and backgrounds of environments, and even battle in the free moving areas. The traversing will take place in both as well, meaning you'll need to hop around in multiple angles, or potentially risk falling to your death. Even the outside borders of the environments are potentially deadly points as there is no invisible wall to keep you in the playable area, so be careful how far back in the background you go to explore. Combat is at a good difficulty setting that challenges you to attack and defend without bias to one, but also doesn't restrict you to use the attacks you enjoy. Each character, just as they have unique skills to traverse environments, have different attack moves. The first few chapters will introduce you to each character, but eventually you'll be able to swap them out on the fly with the press of a button.
The most enjoyable character to play with, in my opinion, was Pontius who can swing his sword, shield charge, and perform a jumping ground bash which deals area damage (not to mention gliding with his shield as a small parachute). It turns into almost a twin-stick shooter when you play as Zoya and are pulling back on her bow. She probably plays the hardest due to the awkward aiming in the 3D environment without camera control. And speaking of camera control, you have none. It's locked in whichever position it wants to. This is arguably the biggest flaw of the game; one that knocks it down from everything it could be. Honestly, the game would be near perfect without it (with some more attention to rounding out the ending). You can hardly predict where you're jumping to at times, and will frequently miss when traversing.
In between the 7 main chapters, and the 11 "Lost Page" missions, you'll be running around a small yet detailed map board, with circular emblems scattered around, and connected by pathways, representing each. Unlocking them (especially the Lost Pages) requires you to collect small golden pyramids throughout the missions. It's important to keep an eye out for the collectables as you play, and grabbing every single one you possible can find, because if you don't keep up with them (getting about 40/50 on each mission) then you'll eventually have to replay missions just to search. I did a great job finding them one my first runs through, but still found myself redoing a couple. You won't get enough for the Lost Page mission until some ways in, but it's a nice system for you to earn things. Initially I was a little annoyed by them and thought of it as a fairly cheap idea, but its essentially one of the core gameplay aspects.
Presentation and Performance
One of the best qualities with any Trine game is the level of detail and overall gorgeousness each environment possesses. Trine 3 is no different, and in fact, blows the roof off in terms of presentation (and performance). The scenes you'll traverse through are full of bright and vivid colors, and smashing together excellently complimenting themes. Each level has a unique personality, wether it's caves, a shipwrecked shore, a mage college, or waterfall cliffs. Everywhere you go, regardless of where the story takes you, you'll find some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in video games. A huge plus for the game is that it plays in 60 fps. I experienced little to no gitching or issues, and although 60 fps should be pretty expected these days, the truth is that many games don't hit the mark. With a game as aesthetically pleasing as this one, the higher fps is a thankful performance aspect.
There's a lot of voice acting in the game, by both the trio of heroes, and other characters. During the introduction scene, you'll see mages battling it out with a magic-based giant who wishes to get within the walls. His deep growling while saying he is just wanting to enter, matched with the mages who are hopeless to defeat him, makes for a great intro scene. Before each chapter, a narrator will read a section from a book, explaining what brings you to facing the challenges within. The accents, emotions, and lore feeling regarding subject matter fits the game as perfectly as you could ask for.
The reality of games and their developers is that as technology grows, so must the games (or at least that's the idea). Some manage to bring evolution to an already great experience, making it even better than before, while other times you question if the evolution is actually regression. Trine 3: Artifacts of Power could not be any more in the middle; it'll all come to personal perspective and opinion. It keeps the gorgeous visuals that made the series what it is (along with the cast of great protagonists), and continues the struggle to solve puzzles, but mechanically sprouted new issues. The most controversial topic regarding it will be if the 3D is all to blame for things; the online co-op being taken out, a more relaxed approach to character progression, and a camera that just isn't your ally.
There's no doubt it took a lot of development to bring the world to life with its depth and presentation, but at the expense of other things. If you're able to get a friend or two together for couch co-op, you'll have an absolute blast playing through the game (and you may even have a blast playing through it solo). It's nowhere near a bad game, and if it was it's own title and not a sequel to Trine, it would perhaps have received a lot more slack for it's few flaws. It's definitely a gorgeous game with another great mythical atmosphere, but be aware that the story will not fulfill any grand expectations you might have.
|+ Beautiful environments and smooth 60 fps||– Semi-short and doesn't wrap up the story|
|+ Fun and unique cast of characters||– 3D platforming is brutally difficult when traversing|
|+ Puzzles and item collecting are thought provoking|