Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy, is currently in development. The developers, Frozenbyte Studios, sat down with us here to talk about the various different aspects of the game. The first game of the Trine series came out in 2009, and sales numbers for Trine 4 have apparently been pleasing to the devs.
“We’ve been very happy with the commercial success of Trine 4! It is on track with Trine 2 numbers, which has been our best-selling Trine game. Overall the Trine series has sold over 15 million copies so far.”
Of course, even with 15 million copies and a series that is nearly fifteen years old, there’s going to be concerns about various ideas and how to keep the series fresh both for old fans and newcomers who’ve never played a Trine game before, or even what they might be doing for Trine 6.
“It’s always a challenge to keep the experience fresh without going overboard with the changes, but for every previous Trine game we’ve made so far, we’ve had to leave out some ideas, for example for new skills or puzzle elements or enemy types. Some of those ideas have then made it to the next game or a content update or DLC, but not all of them, and our idea bank always accumulates over time where we can draw for inspiration.
For Trine 5 we came up with a lot of totally new skills, and added some favorites from our earlier ideas that we never got to implement before. One particular example is the Wizard’s Wind Burst, which allows him to push enemies and projectiles away with a strong gust of wind, upping his survivability and usefulness in battles. It’s been on a skill wish list for a couple of Trine games at least!
Regarding a Trine 6 – We’re still fully focused on Trine 5 so it’s a bit too early to talk about any future titles beyond this one.”
Of course, for a game series to last long enough to get five games, fan feedback is very important. The developers have taken a good amount of that feedback into gameplay for Trine 5.
“We listen to fan feedback to some extent. One example is the combat in Trine 4 was constrained to these nightmare areas and you were always forced to complete the fights to advance. Not everyone enjoyed that and for Trine 5 we decided to follow more in the footsteps of Trine 2 where you are able to skip past some battles by evading the enemies and leaving them behind. Fights can be a lot more open-ended this way.”
With a name like “The Clockwork Conspiracy”, a game has to have villains that fit the theme. As with nearly all video games, there are antagonists in Trine 5, threatening the kingdom and causing the players to take on the role of heroes to stop them.
“The main villains of Trine 5 are called Lady Sunshine Crownsdale (Lady Sunny) and Lord Goderic. They’re a duplicitous and deceptive duo that are trying to seize control of the Kingdom. They have an army of mechanical Clockwork Knights and are scheming to get rid of the wizards of the Astral Academy and the Heroes of Trine, and trying to steal their powers! Lord Goderic is a “civil servant” and engineer who has built the Clockwork Knights, and Lady Sunny is a power-hungry mastermind from a royal bloodline, who’s behind all the lies, deception and chaos!”
Along with being an adventure and RPG game, Trine has also been known for having puzzles inside of it. Those are just as important as combat in this series, to the point where both combat and puzzles each have their own difficulty settings.
“You can select different difficulty levels when starting the game, and also during a save, it just re-loads the level from a previous checkpoint. There are options to change combat, puzzle and resurrection difficulty, and the game has by default different puzzles for solo and co-op play.
Combat difficulty makes the fights harder, and puzzle difficulty usually adds some additional elements to the puzzles. Resurrection difficulty is about how many times your characters can die before returning to a previous checkpoint/start of a level, and how far back you have to go.
We have these things called Soul Points, and they determine how many times your characters may die before you go back to a previous checkpoint. For example on Easy you have unlimited respawns and no Game Over, on Normal you have 3 and Hard you have 1. And of course we included a Master difficulty with 0 Soul Points, where you go back to the start of the level if you die.
So there’s a lot of ways to customize the difficulty of the game to suit your playstyle and skill level, and those of your potential co-op companions.”
Along with the puzzles, the player characters have also been given a few adjustments. In this case, that includes certain class-specific skill quests that characters must complete on their own, which can grant abilities that will be needed later on in the game.
“Throughout the levels at certain points in the game, there are quests for the individual heroes to complete on their own. These will reward you with a new core ability that will be needed in some ways for puzzles or fights later on in the game. For example the Sword Throw ability of the Knight is gained from a Skill Quest.
In addition to skills gotten from Skill Quests, you’re also gathering vials of experience that can be used on Skill Upgrades, which are voluntary abilities but often highly useful. The Wizard’s Wind Burst I mentioned earlier is an example of an upgradeable skill.”
And, of course, those skills and abilities can be used in combat, which has also gotten an upgrade and some notable changes from previous games. For instance, you won’t be able to just brute-force your way through the game with one character; you’ll have to learn to use all three.
“We’ve made the fights more tactical in nature and the old hack ’n slash with the Knight doesn’t work as well as before, and can often get you in trouble if you’re not careful. The Wizard and Thief are often needed when dealing e.g. with flying enemies and foes with big shields that can’t’ be damaged from the front.
We wanted the fights to feel like you’re doing something purposeful and fun, and that you’d have to use the variety of the three characters and their abilities. This is also tied heavily to the difficulty settings, so if you’re looking for a more easy-going journey you can absolutely do that, but for experienced Trine players who’ve yearned for combat with a challenge, it’s here!
Boss fights are often a mix of combat, puzzle and platforming elements, so you are doing a bit of everything in those and are in for a thrilling ride!”
And, of course, there will also be plenty of ways that you can customize your gameplay experience, at least in terms of cosmetic stuff not just for the UI, but for the characters, as well.
“You can select things like your UI color and from four different colored clothing options at the start of a game. As you discover some secret areas in the levels, you’ll also find collectible items like hats or backpacks that further change the look of your characters. These are aesthetic only.”
And, of course, with all of the new ideas, mechanics, a new setting, and new story, Frozenbyte is pulling no punches when it comes to how long Trine 5 will turn out to be. Going by what they say, players are definitely going to be in for a good, long, ride.
“I would say it is definitely the longest Trine that we’ve made so far. Apart from the main quest there are no specific side activities, but there are hard secret puzzles hidden in the levels that may take extra effort and time to complete. We don’t have any specific numbers yet, but I would guess on average at least 15h+ to beat it. QA can’t finish the game in one day’s work and it took myself 2 months of daily playing to beat on hard puzzles and hard fight difficulty.”
However, even though Trine 5 is coming to Xbox’s Game Pass service when it releases, Frozenbyte also had both good and bad things to say about the service, despite the game supposedly being a perfect fit for it.
“Game Pass is of course an interesting program to reach more gamers at scale. On the flip side of the coin, we believe it also contributes to the over-saturation of content in the gaming space and it can be hard to commit and enjoy games as there’s such an abundance of choice.”
Trine 5 will be coming out sometime in the summer of this year for the Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, and Playstation 5.