I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I went into the demo of this new Omega Force developed action RPG from Tecmo Koei. It screams to me of low-budget, run-of-the-mill RPG fare the same way Last Rebellion threw up the red flag. However, sometimes these games surprise me, so I gave the demo a shot.
The first thing you’ll notice upon booting up the game is the visual style – it has a very rustic, almost hand-drawn look about it, which kind of makes it appear like a cross between Valkyria Chronicles and more cell-shaded affair like Rogue Galaxy. Some stylistic vibes are great, but I think they might have gone overboard here, it’s almost jarring how “dirty” the visuals look. I’m pretty sure this was intentional, but I’m not sure I personally like it. I can’t really put my finger on why.
Initially you go through a bit of dialog with three characters talking back and forth – none of it voiced, which isn’t a problem really. The problem is, the dialog is horribly awkward. It reeks of those RPGs where the localization is bad to the point that everyone sound extremely formal and unnatural, over-explaining the simplest detail and repeating themselves several times supposedly so the player can, without a doubt, understand where to go and what to do next. I’m quite thankful there was no voice acting, as I would have a bad feeling about that. I’m unsure if there is any in the final game.
Anyway, after that big of dialog and some menu navigation, you end up at the Adventurer’s Guild, at which point the demo walks you through accepting a quest. This is pretty standard fare, so no problem here. It then directs you to the shops to pick up some supplies for the excursion ahead. I bought a new weapon for all three of the characters and then set off, navigating to the location of the quest from the world map.
This is actually when things started getting surprisingly good. The battle mechanics are great for an action RPG. Each of these three characters has their own special skills and abilities, mapped to the Square, Triangle and Circle buttons. A second set of abilities can be set, as well, and brought active with the R1 button. Each character has your standard action-RPG staples like dodging and jumping, as well as their own unique weapons. But, they also have special skills that their abilities can be used for.
The main character can light things on fire – whether torches, piles of twigs, tumbleweed, etc. These environmental actions can affect battles. If you light a pile of twigs on fire, for example, you can then draw enemies over to them to receive damage. Or, you can light a passing tumbleweed on fire and cause damage to enemies as it rolls by.
The big, bulky character in the party can pick up boulders and move rocks around for various reasons, such as, I don’t know, smashing in an enemy skull, or something along those lines. The one female character – the lithe, agile one of the bunch – seemed to me the most fun to play. She uses a couple short-range daggers as weapons, and has some cool-looking special abilities, like an uppercut of sorts, where she jumps up while attacking the enemy, then flips backward out of range. Her special ability is a double-jump and attack combo. All characters can jump, but she can double-jump and dash to enemies in midair. She can then attack and dash to another enemy without ever hitting the ground.
At various times, enemy weaknesses come to the forefront with various on-screen prompts. If these are exploited, the enemy can be stunned, thus receiving more damage and doing less to the party. If they’re stunned while low on health, you can do a special Trinity attack that does a lot of damage and helps refill your party’s health and mana after the fight. Special individual attacks can also be used when a certain gague is full. The one I used quite often was the female character’s area of effect knock-back attack, which worked extremely well to either decimate or stun large groups of enemies.
The combat seemed very action-game-like, in that you didn’t just face a few enemies at a time – you were up against hoards of mobs at various points. Sure, sometimes, if they were stronger enemies, you only had one or two, but many times you’d face a rampaging sea of goblins, and this was fun, especially playing with the female character.
I definitely have high hopes for the combat in this title, if not the dialog or story. Of course, I can’t particularly speak much on the story because it was non-existent in the demo. The entire demo consisted of you taking on a little quest and going to a cave to defeat the quest boss, which was a nasty-looking troll of sorts. While it may be a part of the overall early story, there was no context given so I couldn’t exactly figure out if it was, or if it was just a side-quest that they put you on to get a handle of the battle system for the demo only.
Only time will tell if the whole game pans out to be a diamond in the rough or just another mediocre RPG, but after seeing the battle system in action, I’m going to lean on the side of being optimistic here. Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll releases next week on February 8, 2011 exclusively for the PS3.