Title: Trinity Trigger
Release Date: April 25, 2023
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: XSEED Games
Genre: Action JRPG
Modern takes on classic RPGs may be more frequent nowadays, but when done right, they allow new gamers the chance to discover the roots of a genre and give old gamers a dose of nostalgia. Trinity Trigger, from developer FuRyu, takes many inspirations from the Mana entries, though it delivers a unique experience. While the systems carry the adventure, the story leaves a bit on the table.
Trinity Trigger follows protagonist Cyan, a youth cursed with a crimson insignia in his eye, which he learns is called the Emblem of Chaos. Eons ago, on this continent of Trinitia, the Gods of Order and Chaos fought, almost destroying the world in the process. Then years later, weapons known as Arma made their way to the land, leading to select humans wielding them, including those burdened as the Gods’ representatives. Cyan, the Warrior of Chaos, is seemingly destined to battle the Warrior of Order to the death, directing the world’s fate. But he’s not so eager to do so, as he and his new allies believe it’s time to stop following the Gods’ demands.
For such a compact title, Trinity Trigger holds a respectable degree of lore and worldbuilding, with each locale’s history making the continent feel genuinely lived in. Although if you’re not closely following along, certain elements may come across as if they are following a specific RPG formula, which is the case in the later hours. The story’s first two-thirds establish its stakes, cast, and setting well, thanks to some decent pacing. But the final stretch comes off as rushed, with several story elements and relationships not given quite enough time to make lasting impacts.
I still enjoyed the narrative, though I’ll admit it may be due to the talented voice actors. Trinity Trigger boasts one of the best English dubs I’ve ever heard, as the main cast’s emotion and enunciation are masterful. The plot would honestly not be anywhere near as gripping if these voice actors weren’t in the limelight because the premise, while cool, lacks personal facets to latch onto on its own.
The characters themselves are endearing enough, yet they don’t particularly stand out. Zantis is probably the most memorable since he’s the wacky comic-relief guy, but you shouldn’t expect much genuine substance with these relationships. Cyan’s conflict at least becomes compelling, emphasizing the struggle that comes with challenging the Gods.
Combat, on the other hand, is where the most fun is found. Taking heavy inspiration from classic Mana titles like Secret of Mana, Trinity Trigger’s battle system is refreshingly simple. Cyan and the two other party members who join the fray, Elise and Zantis, all have Triggers, animal-like creatures that enable them to utilize their weapons.
And while there are many of them, the approach here is more hack-and-slash than anything else. Combos are swift, with only a handful of alterations one can make across each string. In a sense, it all feels arcade-like, providing to-the-point results without the fluff.
Plus, you can’t spam strikes without consequence due to the presence of the blue Synchro Gauge above the player character’s head. Attacking will reduce this gauge, and when it’s completely empty, dealt damage is decreased. However, the gauge restores itself at a fast pace, so the system encourages you to plan the ideal number of times to perform a combo before needing to back away and dodge.
It’s a minor yet clever way to enforce you to analyze enemies more efficiently. This is further amplified by Close Calls, which are dodges done at the last second prior to taking damage, resulting in the Synchro Gauge refilling more. Essentially, you’re rewarded for taking risks, though not being careless, since messing up these maneuvers can put you in a tight spot.
Granted, there’s really not much depth to the actual action. The only other notable factors are the character-specific Trigger Strikes that can be performed once a weapon is glowing and a gauge called Weapon Aura that strengthens attack power. Also of significance is a technique learned later called Trinity Impact, which resembles the Trinity Limit system from the first Kingdom Hearts, where an AOE attack decimates all foes on screen.
Difficulty-wise, you will likely never be on the ropes outside of a handful of boss encounters. Otherwise, the adventure presents itself as ideal for a casual audience. After all, it’s not as if the battle encounters are thoughtless; the enemy movements, including boss telegraphs, are well-designed, requiring some skill to progress. It’s just that if you have moderate action experience, you’ll find balance in the systems.
Aside from those points, the tried-and-true upgrade system has you spend currency earned from defeating foes to enhance weapon skills. You’ll quickly fall into a recognizable groove here, though it doesn’t lack variety. Thanks to the ability to swap playable characters and weapons mid-combat, everything flows quite well. One last element related to combat worth bringing attention to is Manatite, gems that can be engraved in each character’s weapons, instilling them with stat increases and other enhancements. You’ll find these in chests and from crafting, so you’ll gain a high number that can make the playable trio more distinct.
Dungeon and world design is an area where Trinity Trigger excels, with each locale containing intuitive puzzles, blockades requiring specific weapons to pass through, treasure chests to open, and optional pathways to peruse. The maps are usually compact, and the chests you find all become labeled, so everything’s neatly organized.
In essence, while Trinity Trigger never requires intensive thought or exploration, there’s just enough light challenge and complexity to ensure it’s never dull. Sidequests that function in typical RPG fare are also present, but they’re hit-and-miss. A few quests have strong character interactions alongside minor bits of worldbuilding, while others are forgettable busy work.
The songs act as integral motivators to keep going, with a well-rounded soundtrack that captures the intended ambiance of the towns and other areas. Some may argue this point, but a strong soundtrack is necessary for any game to shine since the tracks are representative of the world they inhabit. And after just a few hours, it becomes clear that Trinity Trigger knows this. Presentation-wise, the character portraits, and illustrated backgrounds are gorgeous, honestly making me wish the whole adventure was depicted similarly. Still, the chibi-style artwork has its charm and successfully hearkens to this title’s inspirations.
Trinity Trigger provides the essentials for a fulfilling JRPG experience. While the conclusion feels a bit rushed, with quests and character interactions losing their staying power, the adventure still manages to grab you. The area design and methods of progression add a significant amount of thought to making this title an addictive one. In all honesty, Trinity Trigger really does feel like a spiritual successor to Secret of Mana, meaning fans of that classic should give this modern outing a shot.
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