Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is a whole lot more Trine for those who already love Trine. It builds upon, refines, and polishes up the 2.5D formula – but beyond the epic environments, never to the extent that it feels novel or surprising. For me, that was more than enough given the low price point and accessible 3-player coop, but not everyone will agree.
Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy swiftly reveals its familiar structure, beginning as all prior Trine games have. The three older but no less capable “Heroes of Trine” – Zoya the thief, Pontius the knight, and Amadeus the wizard – are going about their lives, either looking for more adventure or trying to get away from it all. The Kingdom is at peace and – given their past issues with undead kings and vengeful princesses – a democratic council now rules. However, a cunning and unhinged bureaucrat, Lady Sunny, and her engineer accomplice Lord Gorderic, plan to abuse a few loopholes in the law to gain absolute power.
When an early attempt to strip the heroes of their powers fails, Lady Sunny uses her army of clockwork soldiers to frame them for the destruction of the Astral Academy. This lengthy tutorial-heavy sequence culminates with the heroes setting off on an adventure to warn the other council members of Lady Sunny’s plans and disable her clockwork army. Unsurprisingly, this straightforward quest is thwarted by further betrayals, the trio is framed for yet more devastation, and a succession of ridiculously contrived scenarios follow.
As with the prior games, the story is told through cutscenes that bookend each chapter, coupled with a smattering of conversations in-game. It doesn’t feel particularly well-paced given the length of the campaign and the potential for puzzle- or boss-related delays, but it provides all the narrative context to push you forward and these elements never intrude when you or your party should be focussed on puzzling past hazards or surviving tough battles.
The plot is ultimately an excuse to send the heroes through the streets of the capital city and up into its soaring towers; below ground to traverse subterranean crypts, sunken ruins, and gem-filled caves; then back up to the surface to explore a magical outpost, battle through a massive airship, and finally assault a clockwork palace in the clouds. The traditional, fairytale-inspired setting is elevated by goofy characters and plenty of sarcastic humour, while Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy also shamelessly plays on nostalgia. There are several returning locations and plenty of references to prior events and characters. It works as a standalone adventure but you’ll get more out of it if you’ve played the prior games.
When it comes to the gameplay loop, Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy slightly tweaks puzzle progression but it still feels like a “best of Trine” compilation and is just as linear as its 2.5D predecessors.
The introductory missions focus on your basic toolset. Zoya is the nimblest of the trio, with a bow, multiple arrow types, a grappling hook, and the ability to tether objects. Pontius is the muscle, with a sword or hammer, a ground slam, and a shield that can deflect blows, projectiles, and light beams. Amadeus – who has no direct combat abilities – can levitate objects in the world, summon boxes, planks, or balls, and does most of the legwork when it comes to creating ridiculous structures to get the party past hazards. You’ll put all these skills to use as you traverse natural, man-made, and magical environments – each one less logical and more lethal than the last.
Early on, you’ll deal with basic platforming over deadly pits, dodge a few projectiles, redirect streams of water or beams of light, and take on some lumbering clockwork foes while dodging their attacks. By the end, you’ll be stringing together summoned objects over moving platforms; freezing and thawing mechanisms with elemental arrows mid-jump; summoning clones to mirror your actions across multiple levels; and tackling multi-phase boss fights that require every hero to defeat expediently.
Thankfully, you can independently adjust the difficulty of puzzles and combat, and reduce the penalties for dying if need be – perfect if your teammates have different skill levels. And you’ll want to gather a party as Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is at its best cooperatively – on the couch or online – and play in the “classic mode” that limits you to one instance of each hero (which I never got to do during the review period). Coop forces you to discuss, coordinate, and execute plans together, leading to some incredible moments of success and no shortage of hilarious fails.
On the upside, I found playing solo more rewarding than the prior games as many puzzles – especially those hiding optional collectibles – require you to mix and match hero abilities, while carefully considering your sequence of moves. In an attempt to provide a little more guidance, Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy intersperses the adventure with short solo sections that unlock new hero skills – albeit many that we’ve seen before – and then immediately throws several puzzles at you to master.
This approach is a double-edged sword, however, as while it’s a better design than simply letting solo players swap to the optimal character and breeze by, the first half of the game felt particularly inflexible, with hazards and puzzles that required an exact solution to progress. It was only in the second half, once multiple secondary abilities were unlocked, that Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy felt like it was rewarding me with what I love best about the IP: coming up with clumsy and creative solutions (I hope) the developers never intended.
Now a big part of the Trine experience has always been the fairytale-inspired visuals and beautiful soundtrack – to the point you could argue the first game felt like a glorified engine demonstration.
Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy continues that tradition, looking and running better than ever on modern PCs and current-generation hardware. As it’s also releasing on last-generation consoles and the Nintendo Switch, it’s not pushing modern rendering techniques or thousands of polygons, but that hasn’t stopped Frozenbyte from crafting stunning environments with detailed foregrounds and backdrops; all enhanced with vibrant colours, lighting, and atmospheric effects; complemented by a stunning soundtrack.
It elevates every moment – be that a brooding cutscene, an intense battle, or just a gentle stroll where the camera pulls back to reveal awe-inspiring backdrops – and you can pick up the soundtrack on GOG or Steam.
Who is it for?
Wrapping up, Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy is clearly for fans of Trine. If what you’ve always wanted was the Trine experience but bigger in every sense – the scope of the story, the complexity of the puzzles and battles, the scale of the environments, and the number of chapters – look no further and enjoy the budget pricing. On the other hand, if you’ve never found the Trine games that compelling, or wanted to see the IP significantly evolve, you may be less enamoured.
Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy was reviewed on Xbox Series S|X using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on PC, Xbox One, PS4/PS5, and Nintendo Switch.
Trine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy (Xbox Series) ReviewTrine 5: A Clockwork Conspiracy (Xbox Series) Review
- Physics puzzles require more team coordination or careful planning when playing solo
- Complex boss battles that encourage the use of all hero abilities
- Beautiful, fairy-tale environments with an incredible soundtrack
- Possibly the best 3-player coop experience that doesn't involve shooting things
- A whole lot more Trine at a low price
- It doesn’t stray far from the long-running formula
- Puzzle solutions can feel too inflexible in the first half