Review – Trinity Trigger

I’m typically dead set on which games I cover, but Trinity Trigger had a turbulent go of it – plenty of second-guessing going on within me. Sure, the day I saw it appear in a Nintendo Direct, not a bone in my body was against sharing my stupid thoughts with y’all. Everything was hitting that sweet spot. As days became months, however, any bit of confidence I had began trickling away because none of the newer information managed to grab me. In an attempt to clear my plate, I gave up my coverage opportunity. Well, hold on a minute because I tried the demo, and oh boy. That was it, my mind changed, and I tackled the person I gave my chance to. I’m clearly an idiot, and while that last sentence is embellished, I did judge too quickly – learning Hiroki Kikuta was composing the score didn’t hurt.

Trinity Trigger - Infusing a new weapon form to the Triggers.

Ouu, lights, pretty.

Coming in, I had no illusions of a grand and groundbreaking storyline. In actuality, it’s formulaic, weaving a tale of conflict that only the main character, Cyan, is destined to conquer. It’s pretty cookie-cutter when you get down to basics, but the thing is, Trinity Trigger doesn’t try to be anything else. It shamelessly wears every stereotype under the sun proudly. In my opinion, it harkens back to the golden era of JRPGs, especially paying respects to Secret of Mana. My one qualm with literary prowess occurs during the late game – I noticed the pacing of a few plot beats felt rushed. As a result, the impact of later revelations was muddled. The air of predictability didn’t help, but luckily, it doesn’t extend to every twist. Surprises still remain, and it’s precisely them that fuelled me on until the credits rolled.

There’s legitimate intrigue here, and that interest carries into the characters. In the beginning, Cyan and the woman tagging along, Elise, aren’t much for banter. They’re meandering, but there’s a method to that madness. They’ve just met, and it would be bizarre if strangers acted chummy or exchanged jabs, even just in jest. The realism is appreciated, but the trade-off is weathering some benign world building discussions with an iota of personality. Thankfully, my complaint is rendered null as the third musketeer joins. Suddenly, it’s as though Pandora’s box opens, unleashing playful quips galore. Zantis, the one in question, seemingly injects a dose of life into the twosome and my enjoyment benefits. I chortled under my breath on a handful of occasions. It ultimately becomes a delightful romp, but it’s a steady rise. 

Trinity Trigger - The NPCs have charming reactions.

I feel like the developers have tapped into my Portuguese mother with this NPC.

I want to make it abundantly evident that for anyone that’s looking for profound lore, Trinity Trigger is as traditional as it gets. As previously stated, there’s no remorse when indulging in the sea of cliches like the JRPG epidemic of amnesia. This big parade of tropes marches to the finish, and anyone not susceptible to that will be trampled. If it’s not obvious, I adore this approach to my very core. Of course, I recognize the flaws that come with it, but man, the familiarity grips me and won’t let go. Every box on my fantasy bingo card is checked off. I couldn’t get enough of Zantis single-handedly pulling another dimension out from Cyan and Elise – like how personable the former is or how scatterbrained the latter is. It won’t only be the humans receiving some flair, though – their Triggers do too.

The titular Triggers are animal companions that reflect their partner, so to speak. They each come with distinct attitudes and are responsible for a portion of the humor. The snark they spew is startling, but I fully embrace it. Their sassiness lies dormant, however, not being truly realized until Zantis joins. He’s the group’s punching bag, with his reactions often being dramatic. Again, he’s the catalyst for everyone finally letting loose. The camaraderie that then blossoms between the trio occurs organically. I saw the comfortability levels reaching higher as teasing flourished, becoming regular – for instance, Elise’s Trigger revels in poking fun at her. It’s a breath of fresh air, but to reach that, it means stomaching the sluggish initial couple of hours. It isn’t going to be widely fancied, but that development gave me a cheesy smirk.

Trinity Trigger - The party is in a cave.

And here we see Elise coming to terms that she’s not perfect.

Perhaps this following statement won’t make a lick of sense, but the narrative in Trinity Trigger feels like comfort food. That could be thanks to the sense of nostalgia it exudes and may only exist because I’m almost in my mid-thirties. Whatever the case may be, there’s no disputing how at ease I felt. The colorful demeanors of NPCs, like the bubbly rabbit girl, Lime, made me happy. Everyone comes together to infuse spirit in the world, helping it to feel robust and like an actual, living universe.

I guess my lone gripe here is that a good bulk of NPCs offering me aid during my journey aren’t massively fleshed out. I’m a Stan for JRPGs that ensure players care about the main and some middling characters equally. Doing so gives weight whenever tragedy strikes, thus enhancing the session. Basically, I wanted more, and optimistically, a sequel delivers.

If you don’t believe in the idea of reincarnation, then why the hell not? Because, news flash, it’s real, and Trinity Trigger is living proof of that. The fact is, the spirit of Secret of Mana is alive and well. With each step I took during my session, I couldn’t shake the potent feeling of deja vu. Whether that’s good or bad will be your subjective call, but what’s set in stone is the return of a controversial mechanic in the form of the Stamina wheel. Despite having a combat system centered around action, it isn’t a button-mash affair. Sure, I could strike all willy-nilly, but doing so after fully depleting my energy results in my attacks being harshly weakened. I have to be methodical and think strategically. My pounces had to be calculated, and I dug that. 

Trinity Trigger - Looking at the enemies and their information.

I swear, if it wasn’t for the name, I could have sworn that’s a squirrel.

Let me further explain my thinking by acknowledging what I’m positive is a predominant worry. No, this facet doesn’t disrupt momentum. Granted, it certainly restricts continual assaults, coercing you to fall back for a breath, but the wheel itself refills moderately quickly. I can resume the slaughter within a tick or two from draining. What primarily serves to negate those asinine fears, though, is that someone is consistently in my group. If I need to recharge, my comrade can pick up the slack caused by my absence. Once Zantis joined, it quickly became this well-oiled machine of murder – the damage was constantly flowing. Sure, it takes a bit to hit a groove, but once you do, entire species will go extinct. If your concerns still haven’t subsided, then take refuge in knowing that through normal progression, endurance does improve – I last much longer.

Before I began playing, I had already shaped a preconception of what to expect. By appearances alone, I was ready for the usual fanfare of roaming a fantastical world and traveling to various towns. Once there, I’d immediately buy equipment before setting out to traverse through the wilderness. That prediction turned out to be half correct, nailing it as far as visiting quaint villages. When it comes to the armament, I’m buying nothing. In a surprising spin, weaponry is linked to Triggers. These little guys are capable of amalgamating themselves into, for instance, a sword or a spear. In total, there are eight different types, with Cyan, Elise, and Zantis possessing a variation of each. You’d think that’s where the line’s drawn as far as this aspect goes, but no, it’s shockingly robust – there’s a multitude of utilizations.

Trinity Trigger - Elise is praying at an altar.

These stopping so suddenly is a sin against God. I loved them!

Firstly, leveling doesn’t determine the lethality of your strikes. You see, stat increases are intrinsically tied to gems that can possibly come with perks attached. They include but aren’t limited to boosting money earned, providing resistance to adverse ailments, and, crucially, bolstering strength by a percentage. What also helps dictate power is a point system called TP. By investing these into your Triggers, it allows you to upgrade an itty-bitty selection of individual attacks I can then string together.

It presents a tiny portion of experimentation as I find an optimal combination of fluent striking movements. Thankfully, gaining that delicious TP isn’t arduous to do; it simply requires the blood of my enemies. I know those words can cause a person to recoil due to the implication of grinding. Look, it’s inevitable, but the quick combat’s a blast and soothes the tedium.

Secondly, titles starve for a stand-out mechanic that entices – something alluring to the player. With Trinity Trigger, the proverbial hook is monsters with a secret item in their loot pool – something obtainable only if they’re struck down with a specific weapon. In other words, if I wield a, say, sword against a Nightmare Fox, there’s the slightest of possibilities to acquire a unique stone fragment. It’s actually a nifty feature I find myself smitten over, or at least by the concept behind it.

See, to alternate from Fisticuffs to a Bow, I have to do so manually. It starts getting bothersome thanks to what it entails – I have to summon a menu, choose my poison, then return to gameplay. Sure, it’s minimal, but thanks to constant rinsing and repeating, it adds up. If we were to touch back on momentum nuisances, this part would unquestionably be a prime candidate.

Trinity Trigger - Looking at the gems and perks that come included.

So, is E 10%, 20%, or…I need to know!!

Thirdly, the monotony tends to settle in seriously once we look closely at those jewels. To be blunt, the whole notion behind it is pretty convoluted and poorly thought out, creating this cumbersome ordeal. As seen in the photo above, the effectiveness of bonuses is indicated by letters, with G being the lowest and S+ the highest. My problem lies in not knowing what they constitute in regard to how much it raises the odds numerically. It’s such an ambiguous rank.

Yes, it’s a nitpick, but it won’t stay a minor inconvenience when it comes to infusing those gems with additional skills. That’s annoying, primarily because it relies too heavily on Lady Luck – the RNG of which is crazy. It’s particularly terrible how easily I can roll a pair of horribly worthless perks – it’s frustrating as hell, more so because it also demands material that’s difficult to gather.

No word of a lie; those special rocks are incredibly rare. To make matters worse, actually imbuing gems with a bonus costs a mouth-watering nine. Hell, as an extra saucy kick to the groin, why not randomly make those perks, oh, wait, it does that. Imagine my pure agitation when after committing hours to collect shiny pebbles, every damn crafting result turns out to be a steaming pile of crap. There’s no sugarcoating how atrocious the balance is. As another slap across the face, this stumble is easily fixable – multiply the odds of locating these. If their drop rate sees a slight increase, getting duds won’t hurt. Like, I’m genuinely hesitant to mess with this damn feature because of how egregiously redundant it is. The fact that really stings is how gratifying it is when Lady Luck decides to smile at me, ensuring that the finished product is sublime.

Trinity Trigger - Bantering in the Inn.

Poor Zantis is always getting blamed. My niece blames me for everything, too. I get it.

Sidequests are commonplace in JRPGs, and I’d argue they’re important in helping to drive home a tangible feel. The minor issues villagers bring up are key to allowing the player to immerse themselves. Unfortunately, I can’t say Trinity Trigger is overly successful. From fetching trinkets to assassinating creatures, there’s not much variety here. Let me preface that the repetition never made it feel like it dragged, at least. I reckon the big reason is that none overstay their welcome – they’re fast to complete before monotony sets in. It achieves a perfect balance, which is weird, considering how it flubs that in other ways, but I digress. I finished them, ecstatic about the rewards. Sometimes I got recipes meant for crafting. They include vital mixtures, too, and are comparably cheaper than purchasing them elsewhere.

I’ve got a bone to pick with the visuals. No, it isn’t concerning the graphical style itself, because that part is fine. I honestly found it charming and apt for a tribute to a bygone era. These 3D models are detailed, as well as environments. My only real hang-up is how it reuses designs, like inside homes, the inn and dungeons, stripping away some of that charm. It’s a blip of a gripe, and I wasn’t ever taken out from the adventure, but if it’s trying to emulate the absolute classic in Secret of Mana, it’s a disappointment. The character portraits are beyond beautiful, though. They’re wonderfully drawn and almost have a Square Enix feel – the blunder I had refers to those sporadic animated shorts. They stop so suddenly without warning, giving up midway. It sucks because they added flavour and an identity but they’re aside and forgotten.

Trinity Trigger - Looking through the stats of Flamme.

Meet Flamme, rabbit blue thingy that uses fire. Flamme does not hop. Sad day.

Fantastic is the only appropriate word to accurately describe the music. That honestly shouldn’t come as a surprise since the same composer responsible for the magical musings found in Secret of Mana brought his exquisite talents to Trinity Trigger. In fact, when I closed my eyes, it was as if I was sitting here, playing the SNES masterpiece instead. The instrumentals are gorgeous, and the way they expertly complement the setting they accompany has me applauding. I concede there’s a dud or two, but in the grand scheme, that’s a small fraction of what’s in the game. The voice acting isn’t terrible, either. Granted, there were a few spots I felt could have been delivered with more passion, but on the flip side, there were scenes I thought slammed it home. Overall, the sound is mint, and even now, I’m humming quietly. 

Trinity Trigger plays it safe with storyline, but it also has the balls to replicate an iconic SNES title and creates a banger by doing so. The soundtrack is brilliant, and I like how the rhythmic sounds are direct callbacks to Secret of Mana – it’s uncanny. The essence of the SNES JRPG can be heard wailing in the chord progressions and synth modifiers. The gameplay is essentially one-to-one, with stamina, a menu shaped like a ring circling the character, and the presence of altars awaiting visitors. The ability to play with friends in co-op is unprecedented, adding replayability and family fun. I also enjoyed Cyan, Elise, and Zantis and their antics.

This game is a statement declaring that older philosophies of yesteryear remain intact and are still relevant. The ideas are entertaining, and the dub – it ain’t half bad. That’s why I can enthusiastically hand it my seal of approval. 

Graphics: 7.5

Character models are great, and the interiors aren’t bad either. The environments are imaginative but there’s way too much recycling going on. At the end of the day, that fact holds it back.

Gameplay: 7.5

Much like with the fun factor, the gem building betrays the game and introduces a monotonous feature. If I want to actively avoid it, some tweaks need to happen. If they do, things can be salvaged.

Sound: 8.5

The music is, for the most part, phenomenal. The heart and soul of Secret of Mana can be heard in the notes of certain songs, like the boss theme having the essence of Danger! in how it progresses. I absolutely adore it. 

Fun Factor: 8.0

Yes, it’s quite fun, but that’s all brought down thanks to those damn gems. I do hope they streamline changing the weapon form your trigger takes, too, so I’m not constantly pausing and unpausing. When I was actually playing, though, and adventuring, A+ all around. 

Final Verdict: 8.0

Trinity Trigger is available now on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4/5, and PC.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

A copy of Trinity Trigger was provided by the publisher.