UPDATE 27/8/15 10.45am: Trine 3 developer Frozenbyte has released a video response to the game's negative feedback, in which the company's marketing manager Kai Tuovinen personally takes the blame for the fact that player expectations were not met.
The issue, Tuovinen says, is that Frozenbyte did not explain Trine 3's short length - a result of the series switch to 3D. Neither did the developer discuss its decision to leave the game's story on a cliffhanger ending - a result of the shorter experience.
"In hindsight, our biggest mistake was that we didn't let you know we would be splitting the game into different parts," Tuovinen explains, "or that this would be a shorter game than others in the series.
"As head of marketing here, I have to bite the bullet. It's my fault."
Frozenbyte has yet to decide how - or if - it will continue the franchise, or release any kind of conciliatory DLC.
"It's pretty much do or die for us at this point," Tuovinen concluded. "Back to the drawing board."
UPDATE 24/8/15 7.50pm: Trine 3 developer Forzenbyte said the fantasy adventure series may not continue due to fan backlash over its most recent outing's brief length and cliffhanger conclusion.
"The future of the series is now in question, as the feedback, user reviews and poor media attention has caught us by surprise," said Frozenbyte vice president Joel Kinnunen in a Steam update.
According to Kinnunen, most of the backlash has been centered around the game's length, price (Ł15.99) and conclusion. "The cliffhanger story and the relative shortness of the game are valid criticisms but ones which we didn't realise would cause a disappointment in this scale," Kinnunen said.
The game's scope was smaller than Frozenbyte had planned, but budget constraints meant it had to scale things back a bit. "We initially had a much longer story written and more levels planned, but to create what we envisioned, it would have taken at least triple the money, probably up to $15m, which we didn't realise until too late, and which we didn't have. "
That's not to say that the developer was being stingy with its development costs, as Kinnunen noted that Trine 3 cost $5.4m to make, nearly triple the budget of Trine 2.
Kinnunen also didn't think the game was particularly short given its asking price. "The finished Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power game might not be as long as we hoped initially, but something we are very proud of nonetheless, and generally around 6-7 hours is what we think new players will spend with the game on average," he explained.
"As for the cliffhanger ending and DLC - there are no plans for a DLC. Continuation of the story is a different matter however, but we have released everything we had and everything we aimed to release since the beginning of the Early Access."
"We are proud of the game and what we have achieved overall," Kinnunne stated. "We think it's a fun game and we don't think it's too expensive either considering all the elements we have been able to put into the game. However, our view is perhaps skewed, and we are now realising that we have been looking at this perhaps from a different perspective and that many players do not accept that."
Our Chris Donlan only tinkered around with the opening hour of Trine 3 in Early Access, but he liked what he played. "The hour I spent with Trine 3 this morning delighted me," Donlan wrote in his Trine 3 Early Access impressions. "I would hate for Trine to lose any of its character as it heads through Early Access. I'm pretty sure it won't," he concluded.