Trinity Universe crams characters from the Disgaea and Atelier game franchises together in a fresh tale revolving around the Netherverse
- Cool character art style, intriguing mash-up of franchises, battles combo system has nice depth
- Dull dungeon designs are disappointing, wacky, fun premise doesn't carry throughout all areas of gameplay
A generally charming role-playing mash-up full of fun characters and witty ideas, Trinity Universe is bogged down by bland and repetitive dungeons that sharply contrast it's otherwise enjoyable tone and atmosphere.
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I really appreciated the weirdness infused in Trinity Universe, because it's a welcome change from the status quo. Over the years I've poured tons of hours into many stuffy RPGs that took themselves way too seriously; it seems like all of those epic quests to save the world from destruction are moody and overly dramatic. That's why Trinity Universe stands out: Protecting a colony settled on a trans-dimensional hunk of space rock from wayward sushi, stuffed teddy bears, errant UFO's, traffic cones, and other bizarre junk that floats in from other galaxies puts a little zany spice into the mix. Unfortunately, it's not quite enough to mask the mediocrity that seeps into the game's quirky flavour.
Trinity Universe crams characters from the Disgaea and Atelier game franchises together in a fresh tale revolving around the Netherverse -- a strange settlement in the deep reaches of space that curiously attracts debris from other galaxies. Unfortunately for those inhabiting the Netherverse's capitol of Empyria, strange objects ranging from delicious baked treats and refrigerators to abandoned star cruisers and entire medieval castles keep crashing into the surface, threatening the city's vitality. Two overlapping story campaigns focus on different protagonists that have their own motives for getting to the bottom of the gravitational anomaly and putting and end to it.
In one plot, the Demon Dog King Kanata shirks his duty of transforming into a Demon God Gem to keep the debris at bay in favor of setting off on a grand adventure to find an alternative way to stop the objects from falling out of the skies. His quest is designed for beginners, while the story of Rizelea -- a valkyrie for the Goddess Union who opens up her own investigation into the plummeting debris -- offers a tougher challenge. Both adventures overlap at interesting points and explore unique angles to the overarching story. Though it's a bit strange to see characters like the adorable Prinnies and Disgaea's grumpy, snack-obsessed Etna mingling with the ghostly Pamela and other Atelier holdovers, each distinct character's personality and role blends into this new setting quite well.
Regardless of which story you choose to dig into, exploring many of the objects floating in orbit around the Netherverse will occupy most of your time. New debris cycles in and out of orbit at regular intervals, and you'll wind up adventuring amongst the many dungeons found inside the larger items that float on in. Aside from searching for item components to use for beefing up characters and battling random beasties that pop-up, you'll seek out and destroy the gravity core in each dungeon in order to set it floating safely back into space and away from Empyria.
In comparison to the stylish animated character designs and humorous interactions during the vibrant story sequences, spelunking through the bland and repetitive dungeons is far less charming. Marching down long hallways and popping into occasional rooms while searching for treasure and boss encounters becomes repetitive and boring. Sluggish camera controls that freak out when you're too close to a wall also contribute to the mess. The dull and empty environments are also another big strike. Thankfully, the battles themselves are one of the more enjoyable aspects of the gameplay.
There's a solid amount of options for kicking ass when your party goes toe-to-toe with baddies, and the possibilities for dealing crazy damage increase further along in the game. Each character's Action Points determines how many attacks they can pull off in a round. Three basic moves -- Rush, Mighty Blow, and Magic Attack -- can be strung together to form more powerful combos, and mightier joint attacks can be produced if you save up your AP for a few rounds. There's also a lot of ways to beef up your characters too. Colorful managraphics can be painted onto weaponry to bestow equipment with attributes and attack boosts; special items can be crafted and equipped; and mana can be spent to create meteorites that can be plugged into planetary rings. And then there's the monster coliseum that lets you make tough custom monsters to battle for boatloads of experience points. While all of these different avenues for making your party super strong are available if you want to pursue them, they're not all that necessary, since you can get by well enough by simply grinding through battles and levelling-up.
Trinity Universe's pleasantly creative silliness doesn't extend through all areas of its design, and that's its biggest fault. The contrast between the fun, upbeat character interactions and the dreary dungeon romps is a sharp one that brings down the game's more interesting and enjoyable moments. Obviously, fans of both the Disgaea and Atelier series will get a lot more mileage out of this crazy mash-up than the average RPG buff, which is a real shame, since a little more polish and imagination in the dungeon areas could have brought this title fully to life regardless of your familiarity with the source material.
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