Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll Review

Your main characters. All cliche, but not as bad as you could imagine.

When you think of the heyday of RPGs in the PlayStation 2 era, you think of a time when things were simple: characters didn’t always run around in a fully-realized 3D world, graphics weren’t nearly as crisp as the HD glory we’ve grown accustomed to, many scenes weren’t fully voiced over, and some of these games didn’t even have 3D dialogue scenes. These things are also absent from Tecmo Koei’s Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll, a game that feels like it would have fit into the PS2 era beautifully. Unfortunately, it’s 2011, not 2004, and the genre has evolved to the point that the elements present on Trinity are now extremely dated, old-fashioned, and obsolete.

One thing that has become completely obsolete in RPGs now is an unoriginal storyline. Trinity‘s story is nothing but cliché followed by cliché. The evil emperor of the Dyneskal Empire, who used to be good until the death of his wife, was told by his head sage-like advisor of a prophecy dictating that his grandson would eventually kill him. As is standard with any story going in this direction, the emperor murders both of his children. Unfortunately for him, one of his grandchildren survives with his mother and step-brother. This grandchild becomes your typical brooding young adult bent on revenge and is the game’s main character.

This is how you’re introduced into the world of Trinity, and things don’t get much easier. Further clichés include the lovable and rough companion, the weary and wise mentor, the friendly rival who becomes a mortal enemy, and more. They aren’t all bad, and some are actually better realized than their common contemporaries in other games and forms of entertainment. It’s simply the fact that it’s been done many times before that doesn’t make it seem as enjoyable as it could have been.

Another troubling thing is that sometimes Trinity doesn’t just make you feel like you’re playing a game from the last generation, but from the generation even before that. This issues are the way that conversations are presented and the way you traverse through towns. There is absolutely no walking from place to place in a town or city. Instead, each settlement is presented as a menu with a moving background of the location. Each menu option brings you to either a store, Mage’s Guild outpost, Adventurer’s Guild outpost, a tavern, or other locales. There you find yourself in another backdrop with another menu for either shopping, checking quests, or engaging in character conversations.

These conversations are just as bland as the town travel. The two characters actively participating in the conversation have their static silhouette avatars standing in the foreground with the locale backdrop still present, and each character will have his or her speech dictated via text below. Silhouettes will change with expressions, but as with most of the game it feels like something that would have been great if Trinity had been released seven years ago.

Character models are also extremely low in number, so you will find the same model “adventurer” or “mage” or “dwarf” talking in about every third or fourth generic conversation. The sheer lack of variety and method of presenting the discussions will eventually cause a loss of immersion and lead the player to skip through whole conversations just to see if an optional quest is at the end of it. There aren’t even any voice overs to accompany any non-cutscene conversations, which actually may have been a good thing.

Trinity‘s voice acting, to be perfectly blunt, is quite shaky. At times it will be passable and even satisfactory, but there are plenty of times when it dives into plainly awful. Awkward pauses by the actors and actresses are aplenty in the game’s cutscenes from beginning to end, and it really rips the player away from any sense of immersion. Sometimes the pauses are so bad that you feel like performers are simply reading the lines for the first time with no effort to memorize them beforehand for a solid delivery.

Find an attack that works and spam it.

Trinity‘s play mechanics have their ups and downs. The combat system tries to throw in some depth with elemental and physical weaknesses for enemies and features various play styles as each of the three main characters have three “souls” that offer diverse abilities. However, since each character has three to six abilities that are a button press or two away, you can easily defeat any enemy with one protagonist by figuring out what attack works and simply button mashing. It also doesn’t help matters that enemies don’t attack often enough to ever be much of a threat unless they approach in large groups or are several levels above your party. This is not to mention the fact that when a characters falls, they will eventually revive themselves after a certain amount of time. What is a valiant attempt by Koei to try and distance itself and expand from the hack-n-slash style of the Dynasty Warriors series is ultimately a failure.

The RPG elements put into the game are a bit basic, but not enough to turn you off and with enough detail to keep you intrigued. Characters gain “soul points” for defeating enemies, which can be used to upgrade the abilities of each character’s three souls. Each ability has three levels and abilities are either active to passive. Some will be actual attacks and temporary buffs, while others will permanently increase stats or increase the rate at which gold, experience, and items will be obtained from foes. Each character can also have their armor and weapons upgraded, increasing an individual stat in addition to having effects on a abilities, resistances, and more. It’s all actually pretty well-rounded. The only criticism to be found would be that although the weapons you wield will be reflected in-game, the armor pieces will not.

Another bright spot in Trinity is the music. Several of the intermediary pieces that are used for basic combat, menu scrolling, and others are quite catchy and can get stuck in your head. Players may even find themselves humming the tunes to themselves while purchasing items and picking up quests. In cutscenes, the music excels and sets the perfect tone. It really helps out a story that does have some strong, heartstring-pulling moments. It’s just too bad that sometimes the music is spoiled on the shoddy voice work, dialogue, and lack of originality.

When piling everything together, Trinity is unfortunately a game that shows small signs of promise but is never fully able to deliver due to its dated mechanics and some poorly executed elements in the story. The music and RPG system really shine, but they’re bogged down by bland hack-n-slash gameplay and some pretty bad voice acting. Exploring towns, engaging in conversations with NPCs, and other factors make you feel like the game you’re playing is from 2004 and not 2011. If you’re looking for a title that will occupy a lot of time as you kill monsters in a fantasy world via hack-n-slash gameplay and a solid leveling system, then Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll should be right up your ally, but if you’re looking for a deep, immersive role-playing experience and with a dramatic and well-executed story, steer clear.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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