When you’re on the fifth entry of a series, you’ve got to offer something new to keep things interesting. I’m not sure that Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy does. Sure, there are some innovations here, as well as a new story, but on the whole this is simply more Trine, for better or worse.
Jump into Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy and once again you’ll find yourself in control of Zoya the thief, Pontius the knight and Amadeus the Wizard. They even have their same iconic skills: Pontius can use his shield to block projectiles, for example, while Amadeus can summon a block or platform out of thin air. Needless to say, if you’ve ever played any Trine game, you’ll be able to slide right into this without any issues at all.
The new story here means that this is fairly accessible to newcomers, too. Sure, there are some references to the prior escapades of the trio of heroes featured here, but the game does a decent job of fleshing each character out even if you’re not familiar with them. You’ll also start the game with a series of tutorial missions, putting you in control of each character and forcing you to learn their basic skills. If you’ve never played a Trine game, then, and want to dip your toes in, this fifth entry will do the trick.
Gameplay-wise, there’s little that’s genuinely new here. This is still a 2.5D physics-based puzzle platformer with lashings of combat. Across a large number of levels, each grouped into a number of acts, you’ll typically move from left to right, your progress frequently halted by a conundrum that requires one or more of your characters’ unique skills to overcome. You might need to summon a block as Amadeus, for example, and tether it to another object such as a platform thanks to Zoya and her crossbow. Or you might need Pontius to hold his shield above his head, creating a temporary platform for other players. Creating or manipulating platforms is something you’ll be doing a lot.
Playing alone, you’ll be forced to switch between characters frequently, really making you think about how you can overcome the obstacle before you. But as ever, Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is a game best played in co-op. It’s easy, too, thanks to support for local and online play, or even a mixture of the two. When playing in co-op, it’s up to you whether you want to be able to have duplicates of characters, or each players in control of someone unique. Just be aware that the more players there are, the more devious the game’s puzzles become.
In an attempt to add a bit more depth to the game, a new quest skill system allows players to develop their characters by seeking out bottles of a mysterious fluid. At various points these will be taken off the player in exchange for skill points, which can then be used to enhance existing skills or acquire new ones. It’s a nice touch, opening up some new gameplay options to keep things feeling fresh. Ultimately though, it’s unlikely to change anyone’s long-term experience with Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy. They’ll either love the blend of puzzling, platforming and combat that it provides, or grow a bit bored of it after a few hours.
As clever as this new Trine game is, the formula is getting a bit stale now. And despite this being the fifth entry, things still feel a bit scrappy at times. Players might end up guffawing as a hapless Amadeus tries and fails to skillfully manoeuvre a block or platform, for example. And in local co-op, a player might make a mistake, having them fall behind other players and end up awkwardly off-screen.
Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy isn’t a bad game by any means. In fact, it’s rather good. We can’t help but feel that it doesn’t do enough to prevent it feeling like another retread of familiar ground, however. If you love the series and simply want more, good news: this will deliver it. But those hoping that the formula might be well and truly shaken up in this sequel will be left sorely disappointed.