Sunday, 13 July 2014

Review: Trinity Souls of Zill O'll (Ps3)

If you was to do a quick google search you'd find that this game had a release back in 2011. When I realised just how unknown the game was, in the UK at least, I decided I would write a review for it. There are only a few reviews available for Trinity on mainstream sites like IGN, but I find they don't always give Eastern games a fair crack of the whip. Another reason was that its from Omega Force. A developer famous for Its Warrior's series of games. How could I resist the prospect of trying out an RPG by them? So sit back and find out just what a JRPG tuned for a Western audience is like...

*Originally published 16th September 2013*

The standout feature for the game that makes it differ from most JRPG's is its real-time combat system that, with it being developed by Omega \Force, is somewhat reminiscent of an early Dynasty Warriors title in feel and the battles happen with the dungeon itself rather than within a secluded section like other JRPG's. You could say it is more similar to Western RPG's like Kingdoms of Amalur in this regard. Almost everything else in the game though is as close to your usual JRPG offerings as it could be. The game features quite a large world map, but it isn't free roam unfortunately. You point & click on exactly where it is you would like to go and the game zips you there. There are a large amount of different towns, and dungeons to explore one you've got quite far into the game, and each town contains a few places to visit. An adventurers Guild is the most important as you will be getting most of your quests here and will return there once completed to collect your rewards. A mages guild is available for purchasing potions & items while a shop in the town is where you would go to buy/sell weapons & armour etc. Each town contains a Tavern and these are almost as important as the Adventurer Guild. In a Tavern you can also receive quests but you can also talk with the punters. With the game featuring Elves, Dwarves, Humans, and a vampire-like race known as Darkenith, there are usually heated conversations between species (due to their resentment of each other) which help flesh out the backstory of the universe a little more. There is also an Arena you can visit. Completing battles here gives you XP and Items/equipment but also ranks up your Arena level. One you fill the level bar enough you'll be able to enter 'cups' which give decent rewards and allow arena battles afterwards with more powerful enemies (also unlocks a trophy each time) So what about the dungeons? Well, there are numerous, each with there own theme and most feature more than one area within to explore. Quests are always located in these and most of the ones you'll be given at the Guild will be fetch/protect/hunt quests. It tends to not deviate much from these 3 core quest structures.

The dungeons will become easier to clear once you start meeting the other characters which will later form your party. You play as Areus at the start before later being joined by Dagda and then Selena. Each character has their own skillset & weapon set to advance due to their own unique play styles. A characters class, or soul as the game names it, can be changed and new abilities learnt so new techniques can be mixed together. Want to be a fireball throwing, Ice mist spewing swordsman? Well, you can be if you like. Each of the three characters are playable and can be suitably mixed within their 'souls' to suit your play style when you switch. XP is earned in the usual manner by defeating enemies & completing quest. These skill points can then be used to upgrade the abilities within your soul. Weapons can also boost your stats and come with numerous abilities themselves (same with amulets n the like that can be equipped) Weapons & equipment can be bought from shops, but there also loot drops by enemies to beef out your loadouts. Your probably wondering why I haven't mentioned the story yet, considering the story is one of the key aspects of an RPG. That would be mainly due to it being probably my first gripe with the game. Ill admit the opening cinematic drew me into the game. An Emperor goes mad after hearing a prophecy of his demise and has his pregnant daughter murdered and executes his son himself in an attempt to massacre his sons family n stop the prophecy from happening. The game begins with you playing as Areus , who's father was executed while you escaped, when he's older and fighting in the Arena to make himself more powerful to one day take on the Emperor. Sounds good? Well lets just say nothing else of note happens for the rest of the first chapter which took me 10 hours to complete. The story picks up again from Chapter 2 onwards but the huge lull beforehand is baffling. The quests you do and snippets of story you see will do nothing to hold your intrigue from the opening cinematic and you will feel your interest wane. I guarantee it. Its an incredibly missed opportunity for me as the opening cinematic really was good enough to invest me into the story. As I said though, it does pick up from Chapter 2 onwards: so If your still with the game by then it does get more interesting. If you was to invest heavily into the game then it could last you up to about 50 hours, although if you don't do much in the way of side quests n the like your looking at no more than 20!

As I alluded to in the previous segment, the combat system is real time. Its also really satisfying. Attacks can be mapped to the Square, Triangle and Circle button while block is on L1 and a dodge/roll is place on RI. Combat is fast and frantic with multiple enemy types participating in the combat, At times NPC's also join the fray. Your character can be switched freely during the battle with a press of the R2 button. Each character has their own style of play: Areus plays like a Mage, Dagda a Warrior and Selena an Assassin. When you are not controlling a character they are controlled by AI, so they are always taking part in the battles with you allowing for quicker hot-swapping. The ability to seamlessly switch characters during the real-time combat ensures that it remains frantic and allows for tactical play. When in a fight a meter will be filled which will unleash a 'Soul Burst' attack with a press of the L1+R1. This works similar to a mosou attack on warriors games and works well when you are overwhelmed by enemies but it also serves another useful purpose. The boss battles in this game are another strong point. Each will need to have their weakness found to ensure victory. When the boss completes an attack, a circular ring appears over them on your HUD that gets gradually smaller, changing from a Yellow to Red before it disappears. If you manage to hit your enemies weakness while this target is available, it will change to Blue. Once this happens if you deal enough damage, the enemy's defence will shatter, literally. During this 'break' mode you damage the enemy far more than usual. During boss battles this is a must! Once you have their health down to a low level, and you have all 3 members in your party, You can then access a Trinity Attack when the appropriate symbol appears over the enemy. It acts like a finishing move and rewards you with health boosts and extra XP. The combat system is easily the best part of the game and you may, like I did, find most other aspects a little lacking. Quest structure doesn't deviate from the few (fetch/protect/hunt) that I mentioned earlier and the lack of dungeons (half a dozen at most) during the first chapter can make the game seem a tad repetitive. With the dungeons also being a tad linear, there is almost no exploring worthy of mention so the game fast becomes a constant barrage of quests. The most glaring issue, for what is considered a JRPG, is no crafting. Yep, No crafting whatsoever. There is no way to create your own equipment & Items, which further pushes you into doing constant quests to earn money to buy a particular item you like. The gameplay can get repetitive during those first few hours but that's mainly due to how the game itself is structured. The combat system may be enough to keep you coming back though as its an incredibly solid aspect of its gameplay.

You shouldn't be going into this game hoping for sweeping, colourful vista's akin to the likes of Oblivion as your not going to get it. What the developers have managed to do on a shoe-string budget is commendable though. At times, when its canvas-painting effect kicks in, it can look quite nice. While there are parts to its engine that look quite good, notably the lighting that streams through cracks in cave walls and tree branches, most aspects can look a little sub-par. Character models are good, but texture work n the like can be a little 'Ps2' at times. I guess a good point to this is that the framerate is rock solid. It never once seems to drop down to a level that impacts the gameplay, keeping it slick. There's nothing that stands out on the game from a graphical standpoint though, Some of the boss characters can look quite detailed but it has distinctly average look to it. The canvas-painting effect that overlays the screen (mainly when standing stationary) does alleviate this issue somewhat and the art style helps to create an image that could pass for a European medieval painting. The art style for the game is also another negative for me personally. The Producer has gone on record as stating that Trinity is a JRPG tuned for a western audience. Now you guys have already read how that's had an impact on gameplay, and for me it also impacts its visual design. While Eastern & Western RPG's both seem to have their own style, this tries to sit in-between and appeal to both. For me it fails for the most part. It does lean more towards a Western RPG style, but even then it still comes across a little bland and lacking character. The soundtrack, however, picks up some of the slack at times. The score is sweeping and dramatic when it needs to be, the music that kicks in when a boss character is defeated is suitably epic. It's just that its certainly nothing new or surprising though for anyone who's played a fair few dungeon crawling Western RPG's, but it's everything you could want in a fantasy game of this type. The voice acting, on the other hand, is far more sporadic. The acting ranges from passable to painful as characters come and go in the plot cinematics that pop up every now and again. If the game had a larger budget, many of these issues with itself on a technical level could have been improved.

I commend Omega Force for trying to create a JRPG for a western audience. The problem is that in doing so, the JRPG aspects of the title come across as being a little underdeveloped, especially the lack of a crafting system. At times the game seems to lack a little focus and its structure suffers somewhat leaving it to feel a little repetitive. While I didn't like its art-style, the fantasy styling will appeal to those fond of Western RPG's without a doubt but its technical shortcomings should also be something to be cautious of. The combat system for Trinity though is actually really good, superb even. But alas, games are a complete package so even a few notable parts of greatness cannot stop the inevitable. If your mindful of the shortcomings Ive pointed out then the combat system may be enough to keep you entertained during the early long haul.


Who Should Buy This?
  • Those looking for a solid combat system in an RPG
  • Questing & grinding is your forte
  • A medieval Europe styling sounds appealing
Who Should Avoid?
  • A strong story is a must
  • No crafting system
  • The game tries mixing eastern/western styles, so if you dont like the other...
  • First few hours are a test of patience

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