The crossover game has become increasingly popular over the past few years and the trend will probably continue as the market continues to move toward more big budget and independent games with very little left in between. Trinity Universe is co-developed by Nippon Ichi Software, Gust Corporation, and Idea Factory and combines characters from the Atelier and Disgaea franchises, as well as new ones. Take three developers, mix in characters from two series, shake well and you have Trinity Universe, an odd role playing game that just may be endearing enough for you to actually finish before you pick up another one.
If you took out the boring dungeon environments from Trinity Universe and were just left with animation, you’d think the game looked great. It’s more of a mixed bag than that, however. They tried hard to differentiate this from so many other RPG’s out there that they somehow forgot to take care of some of the more important things so crucial to a game’s success. The characters are animated, though, it would be better to see them in full animation rather than transfixed characters with blinking and breathing action. You take what you can get, and what you get is very good looking especially to those who enjoy anime and the arts. While the stills of the characters are all very beautiful to enjoy, the aforementioned dungeons are dull, ugly, and lack imagination. They can be summed up in two simple words: “weak” and “clumsy”. Navigating through dungeons is a chore, the camera gets itself into awkward places and they are poorly lit on many occasions, which only allows for much confusion. All in all the majority of your time will be spent navigating through dungeons, as the rest of the game is entirely menu driven, so if you can get past the graphics, and lets face it, most people aren’t into role playing games for the look of it, you’ll be alright.
On the other hand, sound can often times make or break an RPG. Again, this falls somewhere in between. The music is merely okay, certainly catchy because it’s repeated so often. Though, it may tend to border on the grating for some. The voice over’s are perhaps, slightly better. You could probably say with certainty that anyone with a fair amount of JRPG experience has heard worse. It’s fine. The catchphrases also tend to repeat after fights, but at the very least they continue to be unlocked as you progress in the game, so you’ll hear new ones every so often. Trinity Universe seems to have had a lot of development time spent on certain facets of the game, while others went nearly unnoticed. While there is quite a bit of voice acting in the game, it’s just middle of the road for most games.
Judging by the tone of this review so far, it must sound like Trinity Universe is a rather bad game. That’s not true, it’s actually quite charming and RPG fans will find plenty to like about this game. For one thing there are actually two separate stories to play through. Play as the Demon Dog King Kanata or Valkyrie Rizelea in distinct adventures. The two stories will cross paths, but are not the same game at a certain point. You can also continue to play once you’ve beaten the game. It will get harder and you will find yourself challenged more, but those of you who love your platinum trophies will probably stick around. The biggest fault with Trinity Universe is the pace. Fire up the game and you will only see a nonsensical story, menus, and tutorials for approximately the first twenty minutes. That’s a pretty rough waiting period for most gamers. Get past all of that and you’ll still be in for more tutorials and an item system that makes relatively no sense.
There seems to be entirely way too many things going on in this game. Too many items, too many rules, too many combos, managraphics, synthesizing, drifting objects, meteorites, and a battle system that continues to get more difficult to figure out as new features are introduced to it. It’s enough to make your head hurt. But, if you can get past all of this, you will find a pretty decent game. It’s a steep learning curve, but one that does have its merits. The story makes absolutely no sense, there’s very little incentive to view the scenes and they run way too long to follow with any sort of knowledge of what’s going on. That said if you choose to pay attention you will find a lot of humor, always a redeeming quality when a game can make fun, not only of its genre, but of itself. That’s part of the charm, lots of in-jokes, crude humor, and of course that ever-so-cute, Prinny. Even level grinding isn’t a complete chore. Feel free to stay away from the main game as you seek out objects, items, and weapons to make you stronger, building up your level as long as you’re in a dungeon with similarly leveled up monsters won’t take long at all. It makes the game go by fast enough where you won’t feel like you’re forced to spend all your time grinding up to the next level, it will happen and it won’t take long. Plus, there are so many weapons and things to find that you’ll often find yourself just walking around trying to find monsters that will provide you with a more difficult challenge.
To be honest there’s a lot more beneath the surface of Trinity Universe that could be discussed, but that would take far more writing than is necessary. At first blush it’s a complicated game with a story about a semi-reluctant hero that’s short on the style department (save for the nicely drawn characters), but heavy in the substance department, but it’s complexity will either draw you in to continue to play or will turn you away in the first few hours. I wish I could tell you that it’s going to be a great experience for everyone, but it’s not, it’s all dependent on your willingness to commit. Think you’ve got the chops for a game with a steep learning curve, but a lot of depth? If you’re willing to go full bore with Trinity Universe, you will find a surprisingly good game with tons of replay value and a different challenge with either story.
While there are many reasons to just put down the controller in frustration over a half-baked game that may have had too many cooks in the kitchen during its conception, there seems to be just as many reasons to stick around. Trinity Universe is a charming and fun game that provides plenty of challenge and makes up for its faults with other facets of the game. If you can see yourself overlooking certain aspects of a game and are willing to put in the time to get to the real heart of Trinity Universe, you will find a game that is surprisingly good. That said, because the individual parts make up the entirety of the game it’s still only slightly above average for an RPG of this generation.
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