Beep... beep... beeeep! Trinity Universe is an orthodox fantasy tale from the crossover minds of three Japanese developers. Focused on solving the riddles of the Netheruniverse and its random floating junk, prepare to enter a fallacious universe of leveling up, monster bashing and loot grabbing. Trinity Universe here we come.

NIS America proudly publishes another co-developed collaboration from three popular Japanese developers-- Idea Factory, Nippon Ichi, and Gust. Now before you think back to the last time NIS America tried this formula with Cross Edge, Trinity Universe is not a total let down like overly-convoluted mess that was X-Edge. Trinity Universe, featuring characters from the Disgaea and Atelier series steer into a new realm of gaming-- well, a new realm of gaming for them... 3D. For the first time your favorite heroes and heroines will be represented in 3D, giving us a new spin on some very familiar characters. Like the 3D transition, Trinity Universe is full of surprises, and if you have the time to dig into a Netherworld of junk, you will be rewarded.

The Tale of the Demon Dog
Starting from the main menu you will get to choose between two original characters who will guide you through your EPIC adventure (Epic being a term used in the game). The first selection is the 'Demon Dog King' - Kanata and the other being the Valkyrie - Rizelea. Both campaigns are similar with over-arching storylines revolving around a single narrative. Since Kanata was recommended for first time players (Rizelea being the hardcore selection) we headed into Trinity Universe as the passive-aggressive Demon Dog King, Katana.

The story behind Katana is one of rebellion and self-discovery. Katana, the 'Demon God King,' or 'Demon Dog King' as he is referred to in the game is the royal successor to Empyria, the fictional world featured in Trinity Universe, and the capital of the Netheruniverse. Starting off looking for adventure you will meet Kanata when he defies his lineage of becoming sacrificed and turned into a ‘Demon God Gem.’ Turning away from his duty, the Neveruniverse starts to collect objects from other universe which comes crashing into his home city. Instead of saving the city by sacrificing himself, Katana selfishly seeks out adventure within the newly found objects that are drifting in and out of the Empyria’s space.

Along side Katana and Rizelea, you will meet a few other “original” characters during your adventure into nothingness including your caretaker Fox Spirit Tsubaki, Dark Hero Lucius, Treasure Hunter Recit, Super Assassin Idol Mizuki, Castle Overseer Sazaku, and the Managraphic Snow Cat Artist Miyu. Joining in from the design of these original character to support their own brand is support from Nippon Ichi featuring Universal Witch Girl- Flonne, Galaxy Beauty Pirate- Etna, and Low Income Worker- Prinny. From the Gust team we have Ghastly Inn Mascot- Pamela and the Alchemist Violet Platane. Each character brings in their own deviant vibe and while its not the same as a brand specific game, it is fun to watch your fan favourite characters intercommunicate with one another. The prinnies are increasingly comical this time around, stealing the show.

Even with some breakout one-liners, the dialog is a mixed bag falls somewhere between funny and charming to the obscure, overly silly, and obnoxious. For the more obnoxious segments you will praising the higher powers that Trinity Universe has an auto-skip function built in. Heck, I wouldn't past some gamers to play the entire game without reading more then a few lines. Trinity Universe has a story, and it’s not exactly a throwaway, however you can still get through the game and enjoy it without getting too embodied in the Demon Dog King's struggle against his own nature. This is silly tale of adventure, so if you are looking for a deep thought provoking tale, Trinity Universe isn't for you.

Most of the content in Trinity Universe is tongue-in-cheek, and of course with Etna added to the mix, discussions of breasts will come up. The conversation between Tsubaki and Etna in Chapter 2 about Tsubaki being envious of her small breasts is comical, but some of the language like "big, bouncy tits!" is really unnecessary. Poor Etna, isn't she only 14 anyway?

Beyond the X
So now that I’ve gone over the story elements in Trinity Universe, let’s get into the actual gameplay beyond reading a few sentences and pressing ‘X.’ The gameplay takes the form of a standard turn-based role-playing game places it a menu structure with a few adjustments here and there. Since we are dealing with a menu based system, you won’t have any of the exploration features you would normally find in a role-playing game. In this respect ‘Trinity’ seems to borrow its inspiration from the strategy end of role-playing. Off each menu you can access storyline events, hit up the inn and shop, or explore random dungeons as they float in and out of your gamespace.

The dungeons are the most interesting aspect in Trinity Universe as they act like a revolving door for dungeon crawling. The dungeons (levels) are navigated in the 3rd person with attacks randomly invading your away team. Depending on your level, different dungeons will become available to explore, each with their own distinct loot to discover. From items, to hidden treasures, boss battles, and spawn battling, these dungeons will keep you busy as your inventory fills up. Aside from gathering loot you are encouraged to destroy the dungeons ‘gravity core’ which will cause the dungeon to phase away from Empyria. Rather then letting you little treasure trove drift away, Trinity Universe introduces anchors that can be attached to any item flowing in the gamespace. This allows you to keep some cool dungeons in play as submerge yourself deeper in their halls.

From a design standpoint the dungeons, although themed, are rather dull. There is no hiding the lack of detail here. It’s no surprise that the graphics are under-developed given the developers past history. I know we’re playing this on the PS3, so why does it look like an early PS2 game? Graphics aside, the levels and their maze like design offer up variation, and can feel quite closterphobic when you are trying to escape lurkers, which are random boss encounters that will appear in a cloud of black smoke and chase you in the dungeon. Lurkers are often more challenging then the boss battles and are of some concern. Making the atmosphere a little tenser, the more time you spend wandering through a dungeon the more likely you are going have a little nasty encounter. Even though Lurker battles usually lead to defeat, they provide some of the best battles in the game.


Trinity Universe

NIS America
Idea Factory
Nippion Ichi

July '10