STAFF REVIEW of Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy (Xbox One)

Wednesday, September 6, 2023.
by Peggy Doyle

Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy Box art Rogues, Wizards and Knights... oh my. If there is a trifecta that catches my attention with gaming, it would be those three. Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is a 2.5D puzzle platformer developed by Frozenbyte and published by THQ Nordic that continues the series’ long-standing puzzle platforming excellence that it’s known for. While Trine 5 certainly plays it safe in sticking to what its fans know and love, it has made some key improvements by increasing the difficulty and complexity of puzzles, expanding on the progression system from Trine 4. In short, it’s more Trine, and that’s not a bad thing.

In Trine 5, you and up to three co-op partners play as the three heroes of Trine; Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief. You can play the game in co-op mode or solo where you will simply rotate through the three characters as required. I played solo but can understand how this would be a lot of fun with others. Each hero has a basic move and skill set. Amadeus can conjure and rotate boxes and platforms that you can use to walk on or weigh pressure plates down. Pontius can smash things or charge or use his shield to direct streams of water or beams of light. Lastly, Zoya will shoot arrows to activate targets or create ropes to swing on or climb.

The story starts when the three heroes are reunited after being summoned by Lady Sunny, but once they arrive they see her true colours as she tries to steal their powers. The evil queen has decided to take over the kingdom she already rules using robotic soldiers. It's as simple as that, and over the five chapters and approximately 12 to 15 hour gameplay time, it never really becomes more in-depth. The Big Baddie is about as stereotypical as they come, but the protagonists are endearing and well-written, so I just sort of ignored it. At some points in the story you will play as only one of the three characters, using just their skills to move through a level and giving some more of their background, and at other points you will play as all three characters and use each of their skills separately or combined to move along. Switching between characters is easy, simply use 'RB' to rotate through them.

As each of the three heroes upgrades their skills, they become more of a cohesive team. For example, eventually, Amadeus gains the ability to reverse the gravity of the items they can summon. This, along with Zoya’s ability to attach a rope to many of these objects, gives the team the ability to reach new heights they weren’t able to get to earlier. Pontius will learn to throw his sword and use it to create a springboard-style platform when it is sticking out of a wall. Zoya’s ability to fire multiple arrows at one time is especially useful in battles.

Upgrades come from a variety of places. Some are from the story-based levels where you play as one particular character, whereas others are earned from skill points accumulated when you gather green gems while moving through the levels. Some of these upgrades also allow you access to secret areas of the game that you weren’t able to on your first run, so it’s worth playing through more than the initial playthrough. The puzzles are well done, and not very difficult. Many also have more than one way to solve them which is nice.

As much as I enjoyed the platforming and puzzles, I found the combat monotonous, as there wasn’t much to it. You get locked into an area with a handful of baddies. I normally just let my knight, Pontius, smack things around until I got past the fights and was able to move on to the next platforming section. The combat didn’t evolve over time and rarely required using more than a couple of skills to be successful. Gameplay is the star of the game, faring better than the story, but I enjoyed the puzzles so much that the lack of an in-depth story didn’t bother me.

There are multiple difficulty settings as well as multiplayer options to change your experience. The most difficult is a hard mode allowing you just a single respawn in each section. There are also unlimited modes where you are not punished for dying and respawn exactly where you died. The easiest level makes the game approachable for most skill levels. It is important to note that the easiest difficulty only changes the combat difficulty, the puzzles are still considered normal difficulty in that mode.

The light-hearted narrative and the way the background is created to look and feel like a storybook all give Trine 5 a delightful cozy feel. It’s gorgeous and there is something about the aesthetic that caught my eye immediately, even though I had never played any of the previous Trine games. It is a gorgeous and charming puzzle platformer and I think most people would find something for them to enjoy in the gameplay. The easiest difficulty level makes for a very chill experience when playing. I’d recommend taking this trio of heroes on an adventure soon.

**Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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