PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5
April 25, 2023
Trinity Trigger gave me a mixed experience during my 15 hours with it. The first 6 hours were rough, with unique ideas buried within layers of tedious plot, tired fantasy tropes, and repetitive dialogue. I only kept playing because I had to, but I’m glad I did, because Trinity Trigger gets surprisingly captivating after that initial hump. With key development staff from games like Trials of Mana, Xenoblade, and Octopath Traveler, Trinity Trigger is an homage to 90s action RPGs, for better and worse.
The game smartly starts with a morsel of good worldbuilding. Once upon a time, a pantheon of gods waged war with each other, resulting in their Godzilla-sized weapons crash-landing all over this fantasy world. Thousands of years later, these weapons, known as Arma, are now monster-infested dungeons. Brave beings known as scavengers explore the Arma for treasure, at great risk.
Our hero is Cyan, a teen scavenger living with his adopted sister. While exploring the nearby Arma, he meets Flamme, a cuddly monster with amnesia who can transform into a sword. Cyan meets Elise, an Oracle of the god of harmony, who has a cuddly monster of her own. She explains that these creatures are Triggers, who are bonded to their owners and can turn into 8 different weapons, corresponding with the Arma you have visited. After mysterious hooded figures try to kill Cyan, he travels with Elise and eventually a third Trigger summoner named Zantis to solve the mystery, exploring Armas along the way.
After a strong opening, Trinity Trigger immediately gets boring. The first few biomes you explore are generic fantasy tropes, with barely any distinguishing features. A small woodland town, a snowy town with Christmassy music, and a huge desert with Aladdin-ish music, stuff you’ve seen in a million games before. It doesn’t help that the Armas themselves look identical, dungeons made of interconnected stone rooms full of simple puzzles and enemy gauntlets. A positive during this section is that the story stays speedy, and you’ll get through roughly one Arma per hour. The pace slows down once sidequests are introduced which are, again, generic fetch quests that require you to fight a certain number of enemies or run around until you find a shiny thing on the ground, but they net you good rewards, including new weapon transformations for your Triggers.
However, once you reach a certain part of the story, it becomes remarkably better. More interesting characters are introduced, and more complex relationships and concepts are explored, making me wonder why the game didn’t do this from the start. The dialogue writing continues to be subpar and tropey, but it’s easier to forgive when it’s covering richer material. There are a lot of great ideas in Trinity Trigger, but it makes you fight an uphill battle to reach them.
Speaking of battles, this is an action RPG with rapid combat. It adopts a zoomed-out top-down camera, much like the 90s games it’s trying to emulate. You can hack and slash as much as you want, but each character has a Synchro gauge that goes down as you attack. You can keep attacking with no Synchro, but you deal damage in the single digits, so you need to pull back and let it recharge. You can also recover Synchro by dodging an enemy attack at the right moment. It’s an exciting system that forces you to be on your toes, but it doesn’t work as intended all the time.
I found that combat works best when you’re fighting enemies larger than your characters, since they telegraph their attacks and usually fight you one at a time. When you’re swarmed with dozens of enemies your size or smaller, it’s next to impossible to know when to dodge correctly, since even if enemies properly telegraph, they get buried under ability effects and damage numbers so you can’t see anything. Still, combat is a load of simple fun, especially with being able to switch between up to 8 unlockable weapons on the fly.
“There’s a lot of great ideas in Trinity Trigger, but it makes you fight an uphill battle to reach them.”
Every enemy has weapon types they are weak and strong against, so you need to switch between them quickly. This is done through a game-pausing radial menu, or you can shortcut 4 weapons to the direction buttons. It’s convenient if you want to focus on just one character, but you’ve got two other playable characters to switch between, who have access to the same weapons. This means you’re constantly switching not just weapons, but characters too. Each weapon has a different combo and special moves for each of the three characters, and each combo is further customisable, which is plenty of incentive to strategise. But when you’re too busy switching characters and weapons, it’s hard to keep track of all that, so button-mashing it is. This is a rare game that comes with up to 3-player local co-op, which I was unable to test out, but theoretically would make it easier to keep track of what makes characters unique.
There’s a separate radial menu to handle your healing and buffing items, which operate strangely. You get a limited number of them – only 10 of each healing potion, for example – which I found to be not nearly enough. Your allies’ AI is bad at not getting hit or running into traps, so those potions get used up in no time, and it’s tedious to have to fast travel back to a town just to buy 10 more. There’s a crafting system that lets you make items for far cheaper than buying them. There’s a random chance each craft will result in extras of the item you’re trying to make, but most of the time they’ll get discarded if you end up with more than 10. It’s tough to see two of a game’s own systems clash this often.
Trinity Trigger has some clumsy systems, but just beyond them is a decent action game that isn’t too long. But what I found completely inexcusable was the barks. There is a little line of dialogue that accompanies almost every repetitive action you do. Each hit of each weapon triggers the same voice lines. Each time you open a radial menu, each time you use an item, each time you open the main menu, each time you upgrade your weapons (per upgrade), you will hear one of the same two lines, over and over again. There’s no way to turn them off except to turn the voice volume down. I found them less grating after switching the audio to Japanese, but I suspect that’s only because I don’t speak Japanese.
- Fantastic story, eventually
- Great customisable combat system
- Extremely slow start
- Difficult to time dodges
- Constant repetitive barks
Trinity Trigger is an enjoyable action RPG that successfully calls back to classics like Trials of Mana. Switching between 8 customisable weapons, and the worldbuilding and narrative, are all wonderful concepts executed well. It’s dragged down by inelegant systems, like item management, having to switch characters perhaps more than intended, and those awful barks. But if you’re a fan of 90s RPGs, or if you want to see what they were like, Trinity Trigger is a decent place to start.