When I began playing Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy, it occurred to me that Trine is one of two series where I played the sequel before any other game—the other being Jak 2. My friend messaged me one night asking if I wanted to try a cool Wii U game he had found and presented me with Trine 2. Needless to say, we were hooked, spending the better part of our weeknights completing the game together. Only afterwards did we sit down to play Trine.
Despite my love for it, I missed out on Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power and Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince, and without my friend to embark on this new adventure, I may have missed Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy. Having played it now, there are definitely things that remind me why I fell in love with the series in the first place, but others that make me think five games might be overkill.
Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy finds our beloved heroes embroiled in yet another fantastic adventure, as the three are invited to a ceremony in honour of their prolific achievements held at the Astral Academy—where the three first were gifted with the power of Trine. However, the whole thing turns out to be a ruse by Lady Sunshine Crownsdale as she attempts to relinquish the power of Trine from the heroes and take over the kingdom with her army of clockwork knights.
If you’ve played any of the Trine games—with the exception of Trine 3 since that was a weird 3D adaptation of the series’ gameplay—then you know what to expect. It’s a 2D platformer with some mild physics-based puzzle solving and a few action sequences. Gameplay is split between the three heroes—Pontius the Knight is a burly fellow who can smash through obstacles and take on threats with his sword and shield; Zoya the Thief is nimble and can reach tough places with her grappling hook and bow; and Amadeus the Wizard can levitate objects and create boxes and ramps.
“In Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy you’re given a bit too much leniency—particularly in single-player thanks to the aforementioned difficulty adjustments—that solving a puzzle never feels fully satisfying.”
It’s fairly old hat at this point, and perhaps I have a bit of a nostalgia spot for Trine 2, but a lot of the gameplay feels very simplified and a lot more generous. It might have something to do with the “updated puzzle difficulty system” that supposedly tailors the difficulty depending on the number of players, but it feels like every puzzle-based encounter was very generous on the objects or grappling hook hoops that were being given to the player.
While it’s still incredibly fun, and delightfully whimsical, part of the charm of Trine 2 was how you could potentially brute-force your way through problems and solve them in unconventional ways. In Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy you’re given a bit too much leniency—particularly in single-player thanks to the aforementioned difficulty adjustments—that solving a puzzle never feels fully satisfying.
This extends into the characters as well, as all three of the heroes feel a bit simplistic. Zoya can attach a rope between hooks to create bridges—and you’d think only a nimble thief could walk across, but even the burly knight can utilize them—which is made even easier since she can attach them to Amadeus’ blocks.
“…Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is as enjoyable as any of its predecessors.”
Also, and this might just be a minor gripe that only bothers me, but I really miss how you used to conjure blocks with Amadeus by drawing shapes, which could not only be used to create different-sized boxes but could trap enemies if you drew one around them. However, combat is still fun and interesting, especially when you combine the individual abilities of each character which can be unlocked through story progression, as well as each character’s skill trees.
Visually, the game is still incredibly beautiful with a lot of interesting locations to traverse through. Each level is thoughtfully designed with a ton of little details in both the foreground and background. Each level utilizes a beautiful colour pallet backed by the lighting engine which makes the whole game feel dreamlike and whimsical. The visuals are backed by a solid soundtrack that adds a lot of grandeur and fun to the settings; as well as top-notch voice acting that brings every character to life while still maintaining a playful atmosphere.
Despite this fifth outing feeling a bit tired, Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is as enjoyable as any of its predecessors. While it’s definitely more enjoyable with other players joining your adventure, Frozenbyte has basically got this down to a science and knows how to make a solid puzzle platformer with a lot of charm and personality. If you’re a fan of the series or even a newcomer, you’ll probably find something to like here.