Trinity Universe is in full 1080p 3D. By comparison to Cross Edge, which I feel is fair to say this game spiritually succeeds, I hesitate to say that graphically it has improved. Despite a clear level of sharpness to the game the look is rather uninspired. Many of the enemies and animations are effectively drawn straight from Cross Edge, and they look well enough I suppose, but on the whole there is an exclusion of fine detail and variety to the general look of the game that lends to an overall bland presentation. It's serviceable to the game no doubt, and usually I'm not a stickler for graphics, but it is disappointing that rather than having pretty impressive 2D graphics this game opted for a very stale and rudimentary 3D approach.
The game in my simplest way of putting it is a bit like a turn-based dungeon crawler. You board these objects which dangerously orbit your home world out in the Netherverse and battle your way through a dungeon in order to disrupt their gravitational orbit and fling them out in to space. While this isn't the case with all of the dungeons the design is still effectively the same, grab for loot, slay some monster, reach the end of the dungeon.
Throughout dungeons you'll find an abundance of loot just hanging out on the ground. This loot will periodically respawn randomly as well. Within these dungeons are various hidden items and objectives. These can be rare items, schematics for `managraphics', the gravitational control for the dungeon, or an enemy nest of sorts. You have a search function to find these hidden objectives which will reveal any of these things in immediate proximity to you or shoot a colored line in the direction of such a hidden objective. The more you search the better your search function becomes but it has been pretty fool proof so far. You're given limited uses based on your search level but I have yet to need my full amount for any given dungeon.
The enemy nest things, called hunts, when revealed allow you to fight a string of monsters. Upon clearing the string the node disappears leaving a chest behind and you are granted immunity from being randomly attacked for the (long) duration of the buff. This is quite nice if you just want to tool around looking for treasure.
Should you linger in a dungeon too long, or in the event you destroy its gravity node, the dungeon will begin to `drift'. While the dungeon is drifting rare items will begin to spawn around the dungeon. Sounds great right? Well it is cool but on the downside once you start to drift you have a limited amount of time to get to the exit as well. Generally it's a pretty comfortable amount of time to walk away with some solid loot but it is still advised that you get out. If you can't make it out in time you are cast out in to orbit with the dungeon. I personally haven't tested this yet but the game suggests that you're basically stuck there until you're rescued and that the subsequent rescue is costly.
Finally some dungeons have very powerful enemies which will randomly attack you. You'll see a dark mist creep up on you in the event that the `lurker' as they're called is on to you and that's most likely your queue to run. Unless you over-level an area pretty substantially chances are the lurker will flatten you. Defeating a lurker obviously yields great rewards as well as giving you a completion bonus on the dungeon, but they shouldn't be taken lightly.
Finishing dungeons awards points toward an overall accrued value and these can be submitted to an online leaderboard as well as progress your "dungeon level" which allows you to travel to higher level versions of the dungeons which are available at the time.
Combat, to the game's credit, is very deep. In battle you are allotted a set amount of action points per turn which can be spent on attacks, `spells', or stocked for later use. Individual characters have personal combos using various combinations of light, heavy, and ranged/magical attacks which result in more powerful abilities. In addition to these personal skills there is also a selection of other more general combos that characters for the most part all have access to at any given time. These combos can be intermingled to basically get double duty out of your action points should you find some overlap in their sequences. Individual character's actions can also be strung together by initiating a combo with another player before finishing up. On a basic level this allows you to carry over your hit and damage counter from the previous character's action in addition to granting a seemingly random buff during the switch. Under certain circumstances, which as far as I can tell results from stringing together long individual combos, team combo attacks can be activated.
Aside from the basic combo system, which is the meat and potatoes of your battles, there are equippable spells and skills which can also be used. These come in the form of the item command, escape command, healing spells, enemy debuffs, player buffs, and basically anything which you would probably consider supplementary. The lowest level of these may simply be used by hitting O but higher level abilities, or those equipped to higher level slots, require a period of charging the O button all the while consuming your AP. These all typically take a large chunk of your overall AP.
As you battle you also slowly fill little globes around your AP gauge called the Image gauge. These orbs power some rather potent abilities but even there you have options. A minimum of two globes can be used to unleash a character's super attack with devastating results as expected, but individual globes can be used to either heal or shield your party. Early on you won't get too much use out of these but towards the end of the game you'll definitely be seeing these on bosses and frequently enough on standard fights.
One downside I have encountered with the combat is the feel of its implementation. It's lacking the visceral impact the combat in other similar titles manages to relay. While I can't put my finger on it there's some combination of timing, graphics, and sound not coming together quite right which makes the combat feel unfortunately soft.
When the dust settles:
Outside of battle and dungeons you'll spend your time basically waiting for story events to come up so that you can move on. There's a timed aspect of the game so things eventually become available as you complete dungeons and various other events. You may also simply sleep at an Inn to force time forward. The story is told through little blocks of conversation in the typical anime way, portraits on either side of the screen talking to you. In this game those portraits actually are animated on a basic level unlike in Cross Edge and other similar games. You can see the characters breathing, lips moving, hair swaying... This method works but the story itself is as one would expect pretty ridiculous with sophomoric humor peppered in. If you've played any NIS game you basically know what to expect, and it's not necessarily a 'bad' thing, but by New York Times best seller material this is not.
The game also features several shops which allow you to create various things. The most basic system is effectively identical to the one in Cross Edge. Over the course of the game you acquire various schematic books which list item/equipment recipes and meeting the requirements for those allows you to craft all kinds of things. Generally speaking this is what you're going to rely on for gearing up your party. In addition to the general equipment you can also craft other things in very much the same fashion. There are `Managraphics' which change the skin of your weapon and grant you various attributes, monsters which can then be challenged for rewards, and `Meteors/Planetary Rings' which allow you to place stat increasing Meteors in to corresponding nodes on the Planetary Ring very much like Final Fantasy 10's Sphere Grid.
A quick note about the trophies, they don't seem impossibly hard or grindy. Many of them require a pretty modest number of kills/wins/gold to obtain but even some of the higher ones I can only imagine become trivial towards the end of the game. At the moment I'm tentatively stating that this game strikes me as a doable platinum. At the very least it isn't the eye-stabbing grind fest of achievements that Cross Edge had.
Some DLC is also already available. A couple of free packs for basic resource items and a couple of cheap packs which get you voice packs and such. Nothing too crazy but it's pretty obvious continued support of the game is likely.
The game has all the depth that a NIS fan is probably going to buy it for but it also unfortunately forces a lackluster 3D presentation, the story is about as corny as you'd expect in a cross-over game, and a fair number of aspects were directly recycled from Cross Edge. It's the style of game I was in the mood for but on that same note I'm not really blown away by anything this game has to offer. The $50 price point makes it easier to swallow but even then all my RPG nerd bretheren out there might want to give this one a little while to simmer in the bargain bin unless you're simply looking for something to tide you over to the next big game.
High character customization
Crisp but otherwise dated graphics.
Many borrowed elements
Skip button story
Combat doesn't feel right