Wow. I honestly cannot believe that something like this came out with zero publicity or fanfare, or that I missed it completely. Trinity: Souls of Zill Oll may have a ridiculously stupid name that seems to mean nothing but believe me when I say that this game makes a strong case for being the most genuinely fun to play RPG of the last few years.
The plot revolves around Areus, the half-Elf son of the beloved prince of the fantasy kingdom of Dyneskal, who is forced into exile as a child with his mother and brother after the mad king of Dyneskal, Balor, murders his own son after a prophecy that Areus would one day kill Balor. The game proper starts with Areus as a young adult who has become a talented fighter in the gladiatorial arena along with his best friend Dorado, with both striving to be as good as arena champion Reig. So at the urging of his teacher, Areus signs up for the 'Adventurer's Guild' to take on jobs and tasks around Dyneskal to work on improving his abilities. From here the game takes on a mission based structure with multitudes of tasks and quests for you to take on in addition to the story missions and arena battles. It is during the course of his 'adventuring' that Areus teams up with hulking strongman Dagda and vampire like 'Darkneith' Selene as they each pursue their own individual agendas while forming a bond with each other as the shadow of Balor's empire looms over all of Dyneskal. So far, so standard JRPG, right? Well, yes... and no. The story may not sound like anything different, but the manner in which it plays out and is put together is a lot more interesting than you'd normally get with this type of game, focusing as it does on characters and their development as opposed to ill defined threats to the world or hammy, OTT bad guys. This feels very much like a character drama in a similar style to the recent resurgence of western fantasy TV shows like Game of Thrones(With a more Japanese approach to dialogue of course, though even that is more restrained than you'll have seen in other RPGs). Yes, it does have magic and monsters in it, but these elements aren't nearly as prominent to the story as you'd expect. They have a role to play, yes, but the core of this game revolves around it's characters and manages to avoid falling into any of the whiny emo schmaltz that has dragged down many a JRPG in the past. This game has a really good story that may take a while to get going but is certainly a welcome break from the typically by-the-numbers JRPG plot. There are, however, one or two issues with the presentation of this plot... chiefly the heavy reliance on still pictures accompanied by text to convey most conversations. There aren't a huge pile of cutscenes here, so the fact that most conversations are read rather than watched can give parts of the story a rather dull, static feel to them. It smacks very much of a game made on a limited budget on this front. Plus there could perhaps have been a bit more effort put into developing certain characters within the main story, as some of the supporting cast only really get any kind of spotlight on them during certain optional side quests.
The gameplay though... THAT is just excellently done. Having the feel of a hybrid mix of Kingdom Hearts and the Dynasty Warriors games(Unsurprising I guess, given Trinity was developed by the Dynasty Warriors series' developers), Trinity has a perfectly pitched real time action based combat system where victory will more often be decided by how fast your relexes are rather than how high your level is. It's fast paced, solid feeling and the team based elements are fluid and unintrusive, being so easy to use that you can actually switch characters mid-combo and keep the chain of attacks going multiple times. It's this uninterrupted ease and quickness of control to the game that makes it enjoyable and exciting to play in a way that very very few RPGs ever manage. It is a near perfect blend of third person actioning and RPG presentation and customisation. There is a point to be made about how repetitive the game can get, seeing as you only ever 'take contol' of your characters during the dungeons/combat segments and everything else (World map, town exploration, quest accepting) is managed via menus. Additionally, though there are quite a number of different dungeons set across a wide variety of locations (Forests, volcanoes, castles, ruins, etc) and each of them is pretty massive you WILL find yourself revisiting each dungeon multiple times as you undertake different quests... and you cannot follow the objectives of multiple quests in a single dungeon visit either. The way the game is structured can definitely be trying, but it is so much fun to actually play that I honestly didn't mind it as much as I should have. It plays great, but it pads itself heavily and stretches player patience considerably basically. It's also worth noting that the game has a large mandatory install not mentioned on the box of nearly 4GB, which is a D-bag move, but at least Tecmo-Koei had the good courtesy to ensure it was a background installing title(The all too rare kind of game that installs dynamically during gameplay without any interruptions to the player or any lengthy installing time screen).
Visually, the game is nothing special. It looks GOOD, yeah, but it's definitely from the technical 'lower end' of games... the kind that don't push the PS3 in any real way. I found it looked comparable to the recent Dynasty Warriors games in terms of visual prowess, but with brighter visuals and far larger enemies. The does have pretty solid performance though considering you can not only get enemies that are enormous appearing on the battlefield, but also have to fight them while they're flanked by dozens of smaller enemy squads like skellington archers or goblins. The soundtrack is quite decent too, with some really nice tracks, but for the most part you're 'treated' to the same handful of 'danger music' tunes constantly out in the dungeons. The voice work is of a decent quality as well, but there isn't a whole heap of it for a game of this size surprisingly.
It may not seem it, but this game is actually something rather special. It may sound cheap and repetitive and yes, it's budget limitations do stick out badly at times, but the actual gameplay really could not be more tightly designed and genuinely fun for this type of game. There is a ton to do in the game in terms of story/side missions/exploration and it will last you ages (My play time clocked in at around the 60 hour mark by the end apparently). It will obviously come down to how high your tolerance for repetition and grinding can be with regard to JRPGs but I for one cannot recommend Trinity highly enough. There are flaws sure, but nothing that genuinely takes away from how much engrossing fun there is to be had here.
Give it a shot. You may surprised by how much you like it.