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Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy Review – Clever Puzzles

Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is the fifth installment in the Trine series of 2.5D puzzle-platforming games developed by Frozenbyte and published by THQ Nordic. This game will release on August 31, 2023, for PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch with gameplay that is a mix of puzzle-solving and platforming. There were several moments where I had a silly grin on my face at how clever some of the puzzles and traversal mechanics were, and this game genuinely surprised me in the best way.

Following the adventures of Zoya the Thief, Pontius the Knight, and Amadeus the Wizard, they must once again band together to stop a new threat. This time, with their reputations tarnished, loved ones in danger, and their own magical powers at stake, the Heroes of Trine must reunite to push back a fearsome Clockwork army and bring peace and justice to the land. Each character has a quirky personality which is reflected by the great voice acting, and there’s some great humour throughout the game.

I haven’t played a Trine game before despite having Trine 4 in my Steam library, and having now played through Trine 5, I am disappointed to not have experienced the series before. In saying that, as a newcomer I didn’t feel I was missing any backstory or prior knowledge of how to play the characters, so this is a perfect entry into the series. Having now played through the game, I am definitely going to play through Trine 4 and grab the rest of the series in the next Steam sale.

To start a new game, you get the choice of unlimited or classic modes. In unlimited, there can be 1-4 characters playing solo or co-op, and any player can use any character. This means anyone can play any character, whereas classic mode is where up to 3 players can choose to play as one of the characters each. I chose classic as I wanted to see how each character class played as each character has their own unique abilities that can be used to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.

The first character we control is Zoya. She can use her bow to shoot down objects and use it to grapple from ropes or tie two points together to create a rope to walk across. Next came Pontius who has impressive agility for his size and is armed with a sword and shield. He can use his shield to deflect projectiles but also can deflect water to solve certain puzzles, and bash through crates/doors. Finally, we learn to use Amadeus who shoots projectiles and can conjur crates or bridges to cross gaps and can manipulate anything that’s not locked to the ground.

You can play the game solo or in local or online co-op, and co-op is a much more fun way to play as well as the difficulty scaling with more players. That’s not to take anything away from the singleplayer experience either, and if you are playing solo, you can easily switch the active character by pressing 1, 2, or 3. Sometimes you will be switching constantly as you set up objects and manipulate the environment around you to help you progress past obstacles. Some of the puzzles are so damn clever that I couldn’t help but smile when I finally figured them out. I haven’t seen a game have a character run across the water on a beach ball before, but now I have, and I loved it.

Throughout the levels, whichever character you are playing will collect green orbs which convert to experience and is tallied in the top right of the screen. You keep collecting xp and passing checkpoints until you come across grand checkpoints where experience is converted to skill points (1 skill point per 25 experience). In the skill tree you can spend skill points to unlock new skills for each character. More skills will be unlocked the further you get into the game, and there’s no cost to change your mind and refund skill points to try new skills upgrades as you unlock them.

Trine 5 features a new combat system that I am told is more challenging and strategic than previous games. Players can use their characters’ abilities in combination to defeat enemies and powerful bosses that took me a few goes to learn their mechanics. Amadeus can use his magic to stun enemies, Zoya can use her grappling hook to pull enemies towards her, and Pontius can use his shield to deflect projectiles. I found combat to be active and challenging, but it was refreshing to not be the focus of the game, rather it was the puzzles that I engaged with the most.

The graphics of these 2.5D landscapes are some of the best I have seen in a platforming game. Ori and the Will of the Wisps used to hold the title of best platformer environments, but Trine 5 has some of the most beautiful and captivating visuals, and it runs super smoothly on PC. The game’s music is excellent, perfectly complimenting the game’s quirky and whimsical atmosphere, and the voice acting matches each character well.

Overall, Trine 5 is an oustanding puzzle platformer that has something for series veterans and newcomers alike. For my first entry into the series, I loved everything about it and the puzzles were so clever. Engaging combat and absolutely stunning visuals make this an easy game to recommend. Play it in co-op if you can as it’s a ton of fun.

This review utilised Steam keys provided by Plaion ANZ and Trine 5 will launch on August 31, 2023, on Steam (AUD31.96), Epic Games Store ($31.96), PlayStation 4/5 ($39.95), Xbox One/Series X|S ($35.95) and Nintendo Switch ($26.99).


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