Trinity Universe Review

Trinity Universe (Available only on PS3)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: RPG
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Idea Factory, Gust
Release Date: June 29th, 2010

Parent Talk: NIS America’s main focus is localization, but it also publishes niche titles believed to have a chance at success in the western market.   As such, often the games they bring over aren’t the most technological, nor do they feature striking audio.  Still, they’re fun, which is what counts.  With Trinity Universe, you have native 720p support with the option to upscale to 1080p.  The majority of the game is extremely clear, complemented with stunning artwork.  Also expect some of the wackiest dialogue to blare from your surround sound speakers in beautiful Dolby Digital 5.1 clarity.

I’m not so sure sure why we discuss the ESRB here, but will continue just in case there are parents who read this site.  Are you a parent actually reading a review for a hardcore Japanese RPG that caters to a very select group of people?  If so, email me and I’ll ship you something for free, just provide proof of your gamerlings first!  Moving along, the ESRB rates Trinity Universe a T for teen, which is perfect.  Expect Alcohol References, Fantasy Violence, Language, and Suggestive Themes.  Boy I love the ESRB website.  It makes my job easy, you know, copying and pasting what they say.  What they publish is exactly what you need to know, so take note.

Now to begin the proper review.  At E3 this year, Justin Joseph and I enjoyed the honor of interviewing one of our best friends, Nao Zook from NIS America.  If the name sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve likely read from her on the PlayStation Blog pertaining to anything NIS-related.  She’s also a really nice person, and one we love speaking with at these various events.  While NIS America didn’t purchase an E3 booth this year, they still showed off one title, Trinity Universe.  We also snagged a copy of the game while in LA, which is why you’re reading this early.  This is part of why we love writing about the game industry.  Early access to games, meeting special people, having an excuse to play games until 3AM while your significant other yells at you for it.  OK, let’s not get carried away.  Having early access to Trinity, I decided to race through a large portion of the game for review purposes.  Hopefully you enjoy bizarre, niche titles that fall in line with Disgaea, as that’s exactly what you’re in for by picking up Trinity Universe.

The Great: Same charm, same charisma.  If you enjoy NIS America games, you probably gravitate towards bizarre characters, over-the-top plots and environments, kooky gameplay and more.  If that’s true of you, you’re going to adore everything about this Universe.  Some of these characters literally scream for attention thanks to their personalities.  This is a dream game for NIS America fans.  Read on to find out why.

The Good:

+ The localization.  This goes without saying.  NIS America has a reputation based just on their localization skills.  While not every joke translates, and surely not all the actors are superb, the humor shines brightly.  That’s extremely difficult to get just right thanks to the cultural differences between North America and Japan.  Great job guys.

+ The cast.  If you love Disgaea or Atelier, prepare to see some familiar faces!  Violet, Flonne, and Etna appear, to name but a few.  The more familiar you are with the subject material, the more you’ll be able to appreciate Trinity..

+ The plot.  Trinity is an obscure game, which should be no surprise.  If you don’t like NIS America’s work, stop reading and consider another game.  Otherwise, you’re in the right place.  Imagine giant objects falling from the heavens, and you’re the only one able to repel them.  That could be epic, right?  What if the objects included things like giant sushi rolls?  There’s your obscurity.  Without divulging too much detail, you’re essentially charged with stopping these aerial threats by entering them and destroying their gravity core.  Yes, it’s wacky…..plain wacky.

+ Customizable battles.  This could be seen as bad to some, but it’s a positive to me.  If you’re a fellow Disgaea fan, it’s easy to understand.  Trinity is a unique beast, and I’d be here for years trying to explain all the different options.  Just know you can access three different attacks that can be chained however based on available action points.  Depending on your level and current gear, even more possibilities open.  Use your imagination; be creative.

+ The best of multiple worlds.  Trinity does a wonderful job of conglomerating the crossovers used.  You can synthesize new gear thanks to characters from Atelier, then level up a certain degree that brings forth Disgaea’s battle options.  It can be daunting at first, but fans are likely to be impressed once the learning curve is conquered.

The Bad

– Haven’t I done this before?  You’d probably ask that a few hours in.  While the falling objects are different (ranging from a giant desk to a nice ice cream cone), you more or less perform the same actions to stop them.  The associated dungeons are rudimentary, which leads to unfortunate boredom.  If the dungeon interiors reflected the object exteriors at all, then I would be telling a completely different story.

The Ugly: It just keeps going and going and…  The story spans about 25 hours, but can easily reach 45 if you grind and pursue lots of side quests.  That’s not a problem though; the dungeon crawling is.  As I’ve said, most of the objects look identical on the inside.  It doesn’t end there sadly.  You re-enter the same areas, where the only difference is a longer hallway.  That gets really old, very quickly.  It also drags down the experience, which is too bad.

The Lowdown: I’ve enjoyed Trinity Universe because it’s been a while since I played something so strange.  I must have shaken my head a hundred times.  That said, a few areas needed refinement, especially the physical appearance of the dungeons, and the seemingly non-stop crawling of them.  I know some are still fond of that style of RPG, but it’s becoming archaic to me.  As long as you understand what Trinity is, and are up for it, you could have a really good time.  There’s plenty of entertainment here for your investment.