Trinoline Review – Heart-Wrenching, Romantic, and Beautiful

    Title: Trinoline
    Developer: minori
    Release Date: April, 19 2019
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: MangaGamer
    Genre: Visual Novel

I always found forbidden love exciting, there’s just nothing more thrilling than reading a love story while knowing that your emotional heartstrings will be tugged at sooner or later. Sadly, it’s not always true to find visual novels like this that step too far out of the box and stand out over the others. However, that’s just not the case with Minori’s Nakige visual novel Trinoline, from publisher MangaGamer. While the game plays off its heart-warming themes, it slowly reveals it’s true nature of being an emotional roller coaster that I didn’t want to get off. Reading through Trinoline left me on the edge of my seat throughout most of its runtime, which made it impossible for me to walk away.

Trinoline revolves around Shun Nanami whose sister tragically died in a drowning accident. He never really got over her death and still thinks about her, blaming himself years after the accident. While he is living to make it up to her, his childhood friend Sara, whom he hasn’t seen in years, suddenly transfers to his school. As if this wasn’t a more coincidental reunion, his deceased sister appears in front of him. To his surprise, it wasn’t his real sister, but an android named TRINO, who just so happens to have his sister’s memories. It’s revealed that Sara developed the android with the goal of making Shun happy, but as they are living together he realizes, while she does indeed have his sister’s memories, she is developing her own desire and conscience, even though she is not human.

The story in Trinoline ended up becoming really special to me, which is rare given that straight romantic love stories usually don’t have a lasting appeal on me. What makes this game so great to read through is the stems from the pacing in the first half of the game. It starts off slow giving the romance time to develop while also giving the reader time to get know each character. With that said, after the first confession, the pacing does increase which caught me off guard. It ends up feeling like the developer noticed they were reaching their limit on fleshing out these characters and suddenly made up an unrelated plot twist to bring the story to an end. However, the conclusion felt unpredictable and unexpected to the point that it felt out of place given where I assumed the story was going.

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As someone who is really into Sci-Fi, the themes of this category were never truly explored upon. Sure, there are moments where TRINO’s memories get explained, but the sci-fi part about this game is that she’s an android. This ends up making the entire story feel more like circumstances were created for a guy to be able to romance his sister legal. However, where the story lacks in sci-fi themes, it ends up making up for in its romance and character development

The slice-of-life and romance elements in Trinoline were extremely well done. Even though there are a lot of slice-of-life scenes, which could get a little overwhelming, not a single one felt unnecessary or boring. This could only be attributed to how well the writers structured the story. Trinoline works with a time jump feature so when there is nothing interesting happening for the rest of the day, the game jumps right to the next morning. This is a method which should be a standard for visual novels and I haven’t given a lot of thoughts about it with previous games that I’ve played, but it was noticeable that even though the game has many scenes every scene ends up being precious and fun.

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It is also important to keep in mind that Trinoline branches off at a certain part of the story and it’s possible to romance other characters. Which might be very misleading since the character TRINO plays the biggest role at the beginning of the story, which may change based off of the choices of the player.

Something, which is really noticeable, is that Trinoline works with italics to stick out important words or put emphases on the text. This is a really nice feature for someone who doesn’t understand Japanese one bit. Additionally, it works with capslock, to make the content more clear to the reader. As Shirone is the name of Shun’s sister, TRINO referred to herself as SHIRONE as well. It was still impossible to mix them up this way, even with the same names, while the visual novel itself is very realistic regarding the names and therefore, sometimes there were misunderstandings between the characters when they talked about Shirone.

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When it comes to the artwork and animations, Trinoline is by far one of the best visual novels I ever played. I often feel like many animations are overdone or simply unnecessary in visual novels, sometimes the small things matter and this is certainly the case in Trinoline. There is lip synchronization available in this game with blinking eyes in every scene. Additionally, in special scenes, the hair is even animated and the character sprites or the background are moving. While it sounds quite overwhelming at first, it was so naturally implemented in the game and almost every scene felt like they were CGs, sometimes I couldn’t even differ between CGs and normal artwork anymore. Even the sprites are positioned very carefully and realistic, depending on the situation, instead of just throwing them in the middle of the screen. The only thing I have to critique about the art style is that it felt kind of off when the game was only showing the ground or the ceiling instead of the whole room for a long time in a few scenes.

The game’s soundtrack is lovely and there are plenty of cheerful and sad tracks to be found, which fit well in each situation. Music is really an important part of these types of stories, especially in sad scenes, for its atmosphere and Trinoline managed to nail this perfectly. This game even contains different OSTs in the end, depending on which ending the player achieved and of course this high-quality visual novel contains superb voice acting, well, except for the main character Shun.

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To sum it up, I absolutely fell in love with Trinoline, even though I was disappointed that they didn’t play more into the sci-fi elements of the game, I had a lot of fun playing through the game for the slice-of-life scenes and characters. The game is pure eye-candy and to top it off I couldn’t help but be consumed with emotions thanks to the game’s excellent writing, which made it was impossible for me to not think of TRINO as a human even though I knew she was an android. While I cannot recommend Trinoline solely for the Sci-Fi aspect, I can wholeheartedly recommend this visual novel to everyone who is into bittersweet love, crying a lot, and playing through an amazing visual novel that you won’t soon forget.

Author’s note:

I would like to mention that the developer from Trinoline, Minori, announced their cessation of operations on February 28, which really left me gloomy as I absolutely enjoyed Trinoline and wanted to see more of their future work. While there are still plenty of games left to translate to English, the episodic game Supipara, however, will be left uncompleted for now but I sincerely hope that Minori will start to develop games again in the future.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Lynn Caramella

an enthusiastic writer, who spends her free-time with rather uninteresting and boring things, while absolutely being in love with cute and girly stuff.