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During heated discussions about “this developer isn’t the same anymore” or “games were better in the old days,” I would always try to use the card “I don’t bet on the companies, but on the professionals behind them” and give an example of how Hironobu Sakaguchi created Mistwalker and made wonderful RPGs, such as Lost Odyssey and Fantasian.
Then came FuRyu, a company whose thinking seemed aligned with mine. Of the many games it published, many were developed by industry veterans and bore a remarkable resemblance to the counterpart where these experts had worked. The Legend of Legacy contained a former SaGa series designer. Monark’s team consisted of developers from the Shin Megami Tensei series. And the title in question, Trinity Trigger, includes two veterans from the Secret of Mana.
Sounds like a recipe for success, ain’t it? Well, I put it to the test. I’ve played a lot of Secret, and Trials, of Mana in my life, so I believe I have a good foundation to judge Trinity Trigger’s potential as a standalone new IP, whether it tries to improve on an already consolidated formula or if it gets lost in the success of the past and fails to appeal to today’s players. Come check it out with me in this Trinity Trigger Review from RPG Informer, played on the PlayStation 5.
The Trigger in the Trinity
The background of Trinity Trigger tells of a divine dichotomy and its rivalry. The Gods of Order versus The Gods of Chaos. A battle ensued, and, well, you know the rest, people died in the name of their gods without knowing why. The aftermath of these conflicts left gigantic weapons, known as Arma, stuck in the human world, which shaped the land. The game’s intro is delivered in an artistically stylized cutscene, showing a scene that reminded me of an anime opening – foreshadowing an unnecessary and blatantly obvious spoiler.
We play Cyan, a salvager who ransacks dungeons in search of treasure to raise gold to care for his sister. It doesn’t take long before Cyan finds himself embroiled in an intrigue over a mysterious symbol in his right eye. As a result, he’s forced to go on an adventure to learn more about his history and role in it all.
Cyan is incredibly clueless about world events. I know he lived in a country town, but I find it hard for anyone to be that alien from what is happening in their homeworld. When a new character brought up some global term or situation, Cyan would quickly ask for an explanation. Obviously, this was a way of situating the player in the lore of Trinity Trigger rather than placing Cyan in the geopolitics, religion, and organizational system of the world of Trinity. No character was this confusing since Tidus in Final Fantasy X, but at least our professional blitzball player had a more credible reason.
Like your typical role-playing game, Cyan’s adventure is littered with relationships, discovery, character, and world development. In Trinity Trigger, however, all of these are in short supply. The predictability of the narrative made me expect that some mind-blowing plot twist would be waiting for me with each new beat, but no. The main characters have an exuberant and colorful personalities, always highlighting their oddities at every opportunity – like one who loves to drink and stresses this in every new town. However, it’s not enough to make the overarching plot appealing.
The Secret of Combat
Nothing is more clichéd yet iconic than a Japanese-made RPG that introduces combat by taking on some wild animal for dinner or saving someone. Trinity Trigger’s combat is fluid and easy to master. Each attack consumes a gauge, much like stamina. Attacking on an empty gauge reduces the damage dealt, forcing the player to retreat and rest. The dodge command is unlimited, and if executed during the enemy attack frame, it will recover a good chunk of stamina, promoting aggressive gameplay.
Each weapon has a three-combo attack, and each of these three attacks has two tech variations – DLC weapons add more techs to the array, a blasphemy. Still, combat can fall into repetitiveness if not for some mechanics. The game tries to prevent this by adding enemy weaknesses and particular loot drops if defeated with specific weapons, not necessarily the one they’re vulnerable against. To make weapon swapping easier, Trinity Trigger introduces the Weapon Ring, a feature from Secret of Mana. When you open the ring, the game pauses, and you can switch weapons into the fray or change the techs in a combo. You can allocate four weapons in the directional pad as hotkeys, facilitating the transition.
Although the weakness and loot specials system promotes this weapon hopping, the execution is more clunky than desired. When I wanted to farm crystals to upgrade my Manatites – more on this ahead – my biggest obstacle was my psychopathic party members who slaughtered the enemies before I could use the right weapon, making the whole ordeal a bit frustrating. Still, party members are relatively competent. I expected some goofballs, like in the Tales of and Star Ocean series, but they are offensively useful and reasonably dodge enemies’ attacks. Sometimes they get stuck in some trap on the map while following me, but I believe the designers anticipated this. The damage from traps on AI-controlled members is significantly reduced, providing an odd but workable solution.
But there are some caveats in the AI. While I didn’t attack an enemy, neither did they. Which can be good in case I didn’t want to engage in any battle. Although they constantly smash and avoid attacks, AI-controlled party members don’t switch weapons and don’t activate Strikes, a special move, and their Weapon Aura, a temporary passive bonus. I had to switch to a character in question, use their special abilities, then switch back to my own. More often than not, I watched a party member confronting a weapon-resistant enemy and continuously causing zero damage without bothering to change it. This forced me to micro-manage every character and swap out their weapon. After a few hours, this became annoying and made me feel like ignoring my allies.
The equipment system has vast potential but is messy, like the crystals in Chained Echoes. In Trinity Trigger, there are Manatites that work as enchantments. On weapons, they increase damage or give different effects when attacking. On armor, they offer various passive bonuses such as improved defense, resistance to negative status, or more experience. Each Manatite also has a rarity system expressed by one up to three stars. The more stars, the more effects. The additional bonuses are random, instigating exploration or crafting. Each weapon has its own Manatite slot, which gives a slight impression of character builds. I, for example, shoved all defense Manatites in melee and slow weapons, such as the axe. On the other hand, my bow was filled with attack and critical bonuses.
The crafting in the game is summarized by creating consumable items, both recovery and temporary buffs, or Manatites. Materials are collected by destroying barrels, mowing the grass, finding treasure chests, or by killing wildlife and destroying the ecosystem. An in-game Encyclopedia shows all monster drops.
Treasure Chests Here and There
The game’s exploration is just like it: simple but satisfying. Some distinct spot on the map, like an odd-colored tree or a cracked wall, suggests a new passage. Through it, we find chests or perhaps optional bosses that are too strong for your party level at the moment. It’s all so fast and seamless that I felt motivated to explore without fear of wasting time. Backtracking, driven by some sidequest, was an effortless task with fast travel and warp points scattered around the map and dungeons.
Trinity Trigger hits the spot where I think many RPGs fail, which is in the pacing dynamics between the distribution of sidequests and the course of the main quest. Basically, every RPG arrives at a turning point in the plot where urgency prevails, and the heroes need to accomplish some task with a critical time constraint. However, numerous sidequests unlock as soon as the cutscene ends, making this urgency less vital. Examples that come to mind are Xenoblade(s) and One Piece Odyssey.
Trinity Trigger avoids this. When the main quest presented me with a pressing matter, the game didn’t throw several filler sidequests at me at that moment. Instead, it only allowed me to move the conflict further. I know it sounds nit-picky, but as a completionist, it bothers me when it’s otherwise. In short, Trinity Trigger pacing between the main and sidequests is heartwarmingly well-done, better than some big-budget RPGs.
However, the extra and optional content is only there to do volume. They are extremely filler and repetitive, like a fetch quest or the gauntlet of monsters and bosses in a claustrophobic arena. The prize is attractive, but only hardcore or committed players will be willing to complete this content. To be fair, only they will be equally keen to see Trinity Trigger through to the end.
Trinity Trigger is charming, endearing and features simple but fun combat. For those who want something more lightweight on the side, here are some similar alternatives:
- Secret of Mana
- Trials of Mana
- Legend of Mana
- Ys Series
Trinity Trigger is not daring. The game seems to follow a standard line of RPGs being released nowadays; games longing to rescue the feeling of the past, trading a massive budget for a nostalgic and welcoming simplicity. The movie-like cinematography gives way to a more artistic and picturesque design. The game is basic, with a few unique features, but it doesn’t require much strategy and offers little in terms of progression. This doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, but it won’t surprise you. Ultimately, Trinity Trigger works more as an appetizer for heftier RPGs than as a must-have entry in the genre.
- Combat is easy to grasp
- The art direction is super lovely
- Couch co-op nowadays is a rarity
- The narrative is too predictable and unengaging
- Weapons and techs are all identical between characters
- Manatite system can get messy
- No online co-op
Murillo played for about 15 hours, completed about twenty sidequests, and earned a couple of Triggers’ transformations to bulk up his arsenal, despite how uninspiring each new weapon was. He got to the gist of the narrative and what was at stake in case he failed the quest.
Question: Is Trinity Trigger a local co-op?
Answer: Amazingly, yes! You can play up to two friends via local co-op. There’s an option in the menu to activate the mode, and then you select which character each of your brave companions will follow suit. I couldn’t test it because I don’t have three DualSenses lying about, but I’m certain it can amp up the game’s fun.
Question: How long does it take to beat Trinity Trigger?
Answer: 20 hours max if you only aim for the mainquest. If you intend to do every sidequest, bump up five more hours to the clock. There isn’t much to explore, and NPCs will blabber the same dialogue line every time you click on them.
Question: Is Trinity Trigger worth playing?
Answer: Well, if my review didn’t walk you through this one, I failed my mission. But I will consider this to be a TL;DR version. If you’re longing for some nostalgia and have some gas to go on a trip down memory lane on an endearing, charming, but forgetful action RPG, then by all means. If no, then no, it’s not worth playing.
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