Trinity Trigger is a top-down perspective Action RPG in the same vein as classics like Secret of Mana. It was first released in Japan on September 15, 2022, and will be released in North America on April 25, 2023. The game is developed by the studio Three Rings and produced by FuRyu. Some other FuRyu games include Legend of Legacy and The Alliance Alive, which have similar art styles and are also based on the golden age of classic RPGs with Trinity Trigger following that exact design ethos.
There is some powerful pedigree behind this game featuring: World Design by Nobuteru Yuki (Chrono Cross, Escaflowne), Character Design by Raita Kazama (Half-Minute Hero, Xenoblade X), Story by Yura Kubota (Octopath Traveler, Bravely Default II) and Music by Hiroki Kikuta (Mana series). With some great names like this, you can surely expect a great time! Right?
One of the coolest aspects of the game is its multiplayer function. After a few hours of gameplay, you get all 3 main party members which then unlocks the ability to partake in 3 player cooperative play!
The World of Trinitia
I want to say: I conceptually adore this world. There were once many gods warring over dominion of the world; a faction of Order and a faction of Chaos. Their statures must have truly been godly because the land of Trinitia has remnants of these gods; their absolutely humongous weapons that are many times bigger than entire cities. These God Weapons that tower above us, minuscule in comparison, humans affect the land in different ways. Arma are the reason for the diverse landscapes, monsters, and cultures. Admittedly, some of the lore is delivered in a clunky manner and not always integrated smoothly. A lot of spectacular views or nice world tidbits are locked to art cut-a-ways and side content.
Arma also house altars that can boost mysterious creatures called Triggers. Triggers are beings that special people can summon, and these altars allow said Triggers to take forms resembling the Arma in order to protect their summoners with a powerful and diverse armament.
Gathering these weapon forms is one of the main things you do over the course of Trinity Trigger. There are gameplay advantages as you can gain an edge in battle by exploiting monster weaknesses with specific weapons. Plus, getting a weapon you like AND THEN using it with a character you like is always awesome. There are story weapons and optional ones too, so be sure to do plenty of side content so as to not miss out! Different characters get different weapons at different points so there is a reason to always swap between them. Zantis gets cheated in this regard because he doesn’t acquire weapons as quickly as Cyan or Elise. Whoever gets Zantis in a multiplayer session better like Zantis’s default axe or accept that they’re getting the short end of the stick.
The story revolves around a young man named Cyan. He has the mantle of ‘Warrior of Chaos‘ and is being pushed towards being a pawn of the gods
Journey through Trinitia as Cyan meets many people, visits many locations, and unravels the secrets of his past and of the very world he lives in. The story isn’t what I’d call groundbreaking, but I love these tropes and ideas to pieces. Warriors chosen by gods on opposing sides? Check. Themes of balance and unity? Check. Defying destiny and choosing your own fate? Check. I mean it! I really love this stuff! The eye emblems are only icing on the cake for me! I swear! I’m not that chuuni (lie)!
Jokes aside, I do like the story a fair bit. It has some intrigue and plays with tropes I already like. You get introspective moments, fun dialogue, awesome moments, the whole shebang really. It’s a fully fleshed-out story even if you have seen some of this before. The setting and lore offer a nice stage for the characters to act on, of course. These plot and setting elements combine to make a remarkably solid story and world. XSEED as always provides a smooth localization. Everything has personality and comes across clearly. What helps make the story work is that it’s simple and relies on tried and true conventions along with a really cool setting concept.
There is a very interesting feeling the game has in regard to its pacing. Early on you don’t have much to roll with. Cyan is dragged along by mysterious strangers with promises of fixing the world and is internally pushed to continue forward by uncovering breadcrumbs of information regarding his past. This is the crux of the early game, but it is heavily back-seated in the early hours. For the first 6 or 7 hours you get the intro and some small bits of the plot but you are mostly adventuring through some Arma and new areas. The story doesn’t pick up much steam for a while, making the first handful of hours very gameplay oriented. This still finds a nice balance though; I really like the feeling of hitting a new area, getting a story update, exploring the environment, checking out the new town, getting a new weapon, and clearing out some side stuff. The mystery persists into the second half and is made even more satisfying as you get the lore expanded, begin getting introduced to more side characters, and start getting answers to your questions. After the story picks up some steam the previously mentioned formula feels way better due to higher stakes and more emotional investment in what is going on.
The Prowess of a ‘God Warrior’
Trinity Trigger offers a pretty balanced action RPG, gameplay experience. It keeps a decent pace, has plenty of options, and mechanics tie into one another well enough. I’m glad combat isn’t a slog, and plenty of games don’t have mechanics that meaningfully interact.
You have a stamina gauge when attacking. As you attack, your stamina depletes, and when it runs out your damage output is heavily diminished. Doing a perfect dodge also refills your stamina. This creates a good offense/defense balance that is satisfying. Withholding your attacks replenishes stamina over time, allowing you to spend time planning or repositioning. If you’re good at dodging you can get in a relentless rhythm on some foes. The simple back-and-forth nature of the combat is fun enough, but that’s ignoring the RPG elements!
The sub-gameplay features offer a good balance of simplicity and customization. Each weapon has different crystals called Manatite that you can slot in for additional effects and each weapon has different attacks that you can select. It sounds complicated but it really is just ‘pick your gear’ and ‘pick the attacks you like’. Your weapon Manatite are tied to your current weapon, meaning you can on the fly swap weapons and builds. Weapons also exploit enemy weaknesses, so keeping this in mind can lead you to effectively choosing effective attacks and weapon Manatite. Your imagination could create some obscene builds. Your Triggers level up during the main story and you need TP to upgrade your attacks which does gate your potential strength some. The combos contribute to the game feel, but the Trigger leveling feels a bit undercooked.
There is crafting but it’s weird. You need a recipe and the items to make the item or Manatite you wish. In regards to Manatite you can craft some great pieces early, but as for items… it saves you money. That seems a bit undercooked. Yeah, I made potions and got some extras, but they aren’t extra effective or anything. Saving money is a funny perk to have as I was swimming in Liba at the halfway point.
I want to mention a few random things that I liked a lot. I love the AoE attack markers. You see a red bar indicating the area where a big attack will land, but it also acts as a timing gauge. That’s awesome and I like it a lot.
One of the first things I want to critique is the presentation. Hold up, I won’t be unfair. I understand where this game lies in terms of budget and demographic. It is a niche game and other FuRyu games show that they aren’t producing super big-budget blockbusters. That’s okay! The game knows what it is and is good for those reasons, however, I can still offer some critique. The graphics themselves are dated and simplistic I suppose, but I enjoy 3D chibi art. It’s charming. The Models are simplistic and don’t really emote and the game mostly relies on text on top of character portraits. This isn’t bad per se and definitely helps evoke the old-school feeling the game is trying to have. I do think it’s important to temper your expectations about this aspect.
The level design has some weak links due to the game’s simplicity (which I happily tout as a strong point). The visual style itself is not what I’m talking about, but the actual layouts of the world itself. I’m not the hottest on it. I think that the level design is really simple. That can be good because you don’t really get lost and there is a clear visual language to everything, but it also means that a strong impression wasn’t imprinted upon my brain. I just kind of went through dungeons and areas mindlessly when I wasn’t actively seeking a quest item or slaughtering monsters. I did occasionally see a cool sight but that was due to the art direction. There aren’t really any clever level gimmicks, puzzles, or anything like that to cement most areas. The Setting does indeed have great concepts but this isn’t reflected in the levels themselves for the most part.
This paragraph, yes this one right here, is a hyper-fixated critique that is related to the prior paragraph’s topic of level design. The aspect of the level design that earned most of my ire is… the traps. Early on, they kept me on my toes; making sure that I navigate an area with care and properly maneuvered during battle to avoid taking any extra damage. That sounds perfectly normal! Right?! Usually, they were pretty inoffensive, but eventually, they just annoyed me to no end. Spikes are whatever, I could just dash through with good timing. Although, some awkward combat encounters came from them. I was also mildly annoyed that my Player Character could dash through unharmed at my behest while my AI compatriots just took unnecessary damage. Wonderful, and the devs knew this is an issue clearly because some traps will only deal 1 damage to your CPU compatriots. I will say, playing in multiplayer may alleviate some of these inconveniences. One trap I hated was things like flowers or mushrooms that released status-effect spores. Yeah, some would be beneficial or even smartly placed, but sometimes they just made swinging a weapon a hassle. Y’know, I suppose it is possible to use ranged weapons to snipe these out of your path… Anyways, I’d catch myself just taking a hit to get through an area faster at certain points. To be fair to Trinity Trigger, these are brief sections of the game. Oh yeah, I’m including mimics in this ‘trap’ category. There are so many of these suckers and they are more than willing to bite a hefty chunk out of your HP. There are way way way way too many of these things for my taste. They are in almost every area of this game and persist for the majority of the game’s length, too! If anything I like viewing this issue through this lens; my dislike of the traps is a testament to how much I liked the general gameplay, these traps slow me down when trying to explore or fight so clearly I liked those elements plenty.
I enjoy the broad strokes of combat, and the bosses having levels of spectacle and patterns differentiate them from the normal mob fodder in a distinctly fun way. Normal enemies go down quickly in a satisfying way while bosses require more finesse and strategy. Sounds pretty good! However, bosses have an armor gauge that you must break before you can deal ANY damage to them. I have very mixed feelings about this quirk, but the one that bubbles up to the top of my brain most often is “This feels like padding”. This mechanic can more than double the time you spend in a boss fight. I don’t know why bosses weren’t given more HP if they wanted them to be longer. I did craft some builds that could diminish the armor gauge and then delete like ¾ of the boss’s HP bar. That is the ‘love’ part of this love-hate with this mechanic.
I’m disappointed by the weapon and exploration integration. Gathering weapons is a huge part of the game and it makes combat pretty fun having so many different weapons with customizable move sets. However, the only thing all of these weapons can offer you during exploration is being able to shatter a crystal with a big weapon symbol on it. That’s sooooo boring. I hate, and I mean HATE comparing games usually. Each game has its own strong points and quirks. That’s precisely what gives a game its identity; the unique combination of different elements. The thing I’m trying to say is that it should have taken some inspiration from the first Seiken Densetsu game (Mana game). That game had many unique weapons and they had BOTH combat and exploration applications. A flail in that game, for example, has a long reach and could grapple onto posts to help you get across gaps. Why isn’t there anything like that in this game really? Yeah, there are some shooting puzzles with some weapons and to be fair many of Seiken Densetu’s weapons clear obstructions just like the destructible crystals in Trinity Trigger. I do think the game would have only been more satisfying with this, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Trinity Trigger is less without it.
Our last section here is a grab bag of nitpicks. Nothing that I consider a strong flaw, but definitely a few aspects that I think can be tuned up to create a tighter experience. I would like some screen transition indicators a la the blue dotted lines in games like Final Fantasy XII and XIV. Yes, there is a dot that indicates that on the minimap, but I think there should be one in the environment itself. You don’t have to really look at the minimap due to the simplistic level design, so I think this would be a clear upgrade. It’s also strange to me considering how sleek the AoE stuff is. I would think that sleek design philosophy would apply to more elements. This next complaint is hyper-specific and involves a mix of UI and control. You press the left or right trigger to swap your current character, alright? What I specifically want is for the UI to reflect what button you press to swap to a certain character. Let’s say I’m Cyan and want to be Elise. Her status info on the UI is to the right of Cyan’s. I want to press R2 to swap with her. Sometimes this will be the case, sometimes not. This is because it cycles in a specific way. Yeah, I know I can just pull the trigger again, but I would love the UI to communicate subtly. I guess an actual button indicator could be there but that’s tacky. Lastly, the voice talent is great but I don’t know if the voice direction was off or whatever, but the battle grunts lack OOMPH. The voice work aside from that does a bang-up job!
Trinity Trigger feels like a long-lost PSP cult classic that we never got until now. I say PSP because the visual style and vibes just match perfectly in my brain with PSP RPGs. I mean that sincerely, I love the PSP! It’s a simple and fun time with interesting twists on classic formulas.
Trinity Trigger is a simple game with a simple goal: Recreate the feeling of classic 90s RPGs. It’s simple, for better and for worse. Level design, presentation, and ambition mostly suffer. However, the simplicity makes the gameplay and story really satisfying in a familiar way. In such a way that feels like catching up with an old friend. It’s familiar but some things are new and different. You get a rush of nostalgia and pure enjoyment during your journey through Trinitia. Revel in the old and enjoy the new!
As a bonus, I wanna talk about Lime, my favorite tertiary character in the game. I love this peppy (and a little bit mischievous) bunny girl! She’s so cute! And she helps you craft Manatite! Craft with her a lot and listen to her different voice lines, I implore you!
Disclaimer: Final Weapon was provided with a copy for the purpose of review by the game publisher.
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