Trinity Universe - Staff Review  

Mediocre Three Times is Still Mediocre
by Ken Staples

20-40 Hours
+ Excellent optional cutscenes...
- ...between a bland main plot.
+ Great cutscene visuals...
- ...with mediocre dungeon graphics
+ Good music...
- ...that recycles shortly into the game.
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   When I first heard about Trinity Universe, I was intrigued. A mash-up of original Idea Factory characters with characters from well-known Gust and Nippon Ichi series, Trinity Universe looked to be the prodigal love-child of the three companies. The visuals I had seen in trailers and on the official site looked great, and the battle and crafting systems looked interesting. The alternate viewpoints and extra characters promised additional replay value that is often absent from most games. I dove into Trinity Universe expecting a satisfying gaming experience.

   Trinity Universe gives players the choice of playing the game as one of two main characters: Kanata, the Demon Dog King of the Netheruniverse, or Rizelea, a Valkyrie who is part of a universe peace-keeping organization. Kanata's path begins with the prince refusing to go through with a magical ceremony that would protect his world from wayward space debris at the cost of his freedom by becoming the Demon God Gem. Rizelea's begins with her sealing Kanata's father away after he nonchalantly dismisses Rizelea's demands that he take stronger action against the large volume of drifting space objects in his kingdom. Various other characters join the party over time, including some crossover characters from Gust and Nippon Ichi games. While the stories ultimately converge, each character offers a different viewpoint and gives insights to the story as a whole. Because of this, players may not find themselves having a good grasp of the game's big picture without completing both protagonists' paths. While humorous, and more than a little crude at times, the story ends up being weak filler in between dungeon diving sessions. Though the moderate cast of supporting characters add flavor to the game with character specific cutscenes, their dialogue in major story points accomplishes little more than saying "I'm here, too."

Mashing potatoes is fun...mashing buttons is not. Mashing potatoes is fun...mashing buttons is not.

   Battles in Trinity Universe are fairly straightforward turn-based affairs. Under normal circumstances, characters attack in the order that the player put them into the active party. Players are given the choice of using a combination of weak, strong, and magic attacks. Attacking consumes AP, but characters have more than enough each turn to chain their attacks together. By executing specific patterns of attacks, players are able to pull off special combo abilities that have the potential of greatly increasing damage done. Players are also able to perform Fury Links, which carry over the combo and damage counters to the next attacker, as well as give the chosen character a status buff. As an added bonus for linking characters' attacks, Fury Linking will give players a chance to execute powerful, multi-character attacks if the combo counter is high enough and the player has good enough timing. Besides the standard attacks, players are also able to use pre-equipped abilities by charging them up until their AP requirements are met. Skills vary widely from healing, attack, and escape from battle. While battles offer a good amount of variety for fighting, they usually boil down to remembering long chains of commands for combos each turn and executing them in a manner that might as well be pure button mashing.

   Visually, Trinity Universe looks pretty good, especially during cutscenes. Players will find themselves adventuring through typical looking dungeons with equally standard character models. Thankfully, cutscenes offer dynamic, anime-style pop-ups, which add a lot of flavor to an otherwise average visual experience. The music of Trinity Universe is equally mediocre. While the individual tracks are decent, players will easily experience all that Trinity Universe has to audibly offer within a few hours of play. Though different dungeons usually offer their own tracks, the necessity of back-tracking to previous areas for quests and farming result in even the most interesting tracks becoming really old, really fast.

There's a prinny in your party, dood. There's a prinny in your party, dood.

   Out of the box, Trinity Universe only offers a "normal" difficulty setting, though harder modes can be unlocked upon completion of the game. While players may occasionally run into special, incredibly tough monsters in dungeons, these battles are usually easily avoidable. Most other situations in which the difficulty spikes can be easily mediated by upgrading equipment. Players that mostly stick to the main story with only moderate side-exploring can expect to see about thirty hours of gameplay. Trinity Universe offers two character perspectives and multiple endings, however. These options, along with a huge inventory of craftable items can easily bring playtime near the hundred hour mark.

   While dialogue in plot related cutscenes is often filled with fluff from non-necessary characters, optional cutscenes offer fun and often funny skits. Trinity Universe offers very good localization in these sequences that will leave players looking forward to the next optional scene that shows up. While Trinity Universe does a decent job with its menus, it seems to go out of its way to make dungeon selection painful. While the dungeon selection screen may have a few dozen entities on it, only a handful will actually contain objects that can be explored, leaving players to hunt through a massive list to find their intended destinations.

   I went into Trinity Universe excited, and for a few hours, I was. After those initial hours, however, I was left with an overwhelming feeling of tedium from the constant back-tracking, boredom from the often repeated music, and disappointment from the lackluster plot. While the cutscenes looked good and the optional ones were great, the rest of Trinity Universe left me with the bitter taste of mediocrity. Die-hard fans of NIS and Gust may find enough interest in Trinity Universe to hold them over until the end, but most others will likely have the urge to put Trinity Universe down before it's really begun.

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