The story of Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is a bit of an odd duck. It has never been a series known for its narrative, which has always kind of existed as a framework to explain why you can switch instantly between the three characters. But in Trine 5 it goes a step further, not just adding loose justification for its avatar switching, but adding a pretty flimsy reason to get them together again. See, primary villain Lady Sunny has recruited the evil Lord Godric to make an army of Clockwork Knights to take over a kingdom that she already rules.
It’s a classic example of the villain antagonising the only people who could stop them when leaving the heroes alone would make everything much, much easier. It’s only after they’re lured to her estate and she tries to imprison them that the Heroes of Trine get involved at all. It’s a pretty nonsensical plot, and yet Trine 5 tells its story with the same easy, quintessentially British charm that the series is known for.
Primary characters Zoya the Thief, Pontius the Knight, and Amadeus the Wizard are just as likably two-dimensional as ever. These characters have never evolved an inch since the first game, and are always found engaging in their stock activity of stealing, questing, and worrying. Once they get together they do so with the same exact dynamic: Amadeus is anxious about everything, Pontius is noble but simple, Zoya is sassy and sarcastic.
They do have a few extra skills this time around though, which help them traverse the colourful, whimsical kingdom they’ve defended for years. Pontius, for example, can now throw his sword, creating hook points for Zoya and platforms that he can springboard off. Previous skills return too, such as Zoya’s rope swing, Pontius’ charge, and Amadeus ability to conjure magical boxes and platforms, or move items around with telekinesis. Each character has a skill tree with a handful of skills already unlocked, which can be upgraded and added to. Though a lot of the extra moves feel a little superfluous. One of the most useful by far is Zoya’s evasive roll, which really feels like it should be a core skill.
Puzzles, once again, require a mixture of all your abilities. For example, you might need to conjure a platform with Amadeus that allows Pontius to roll-walk a huge boulder onto it, which he can then use to springboard up and smash a barrier through which Zoya can now attach a line. Thing is, you can quite often cheese the puzzles by exploiting the physics engine. More than once I conjured a platform with Amadeus that I was able to jump on in mid air to clear a gap when the game clearly wanted me to do something more clever.
Likewise, although Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is built with three-player co-op in mind, it’s still unnecessary. It makes it more fun, arguably, but you can still complete everything before you with a little patience and ingenuity. Co-op play does make the somewhat superfluous combat sections easier though. There’s more combat here than in previous games, and it never gets much more complex than dodging through an enemy with Zoya, blocking with Pontius until your shield temporarily breaks, and dropping boxes and barrels on things with Amadeus. The trouble is that switching between characters can still be fiddly and irritating.
What always strikes me about Trine games is that it doesn’t really matter if they’re formulaic, they are always gorgeous, the puzzles are always creative and just taxing enough to keep your brain working, and they’re always so likable. Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is no different. Every environment is beautiful, from fairy-tale fields to sparkling castle interiors, from meadows marked by overgrown flora and giant wildlife, to babbling brooks and technicolour forests.
The sound design is on point too, with a wonderful score that perfectly compliments the atmosphere. The voice acting is also great, particularly the narrator, whose enthusiastic delivery never fails to set the scene. Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is certainly no evolution, but it does add a few new mechanics to the established formula. It’s just as beautiful as the series ever was, and the same old Trine charm is present and correct, but it’s definitely beginning to wear a little thin.
Looks gorgeous, as always
Adds a few new abilities
Feels the same as before
Story isn't great
Some puzzles are easily cheesed