Japanese role-playing games are more available and accessible than ever before. However, there are very few traditional games that allow multiple people to party up and play through its story together. Square Enix’s Mana franchise and Bandai Namco’s Tales of series are probably the best known for this in the past. Among some other one off titles, Trinity Trigger aims to add to that short list. While there seems to be a lack of depth in combat and how interesting the world is remains to be seen, Trinity Trigger’s first impression shows potential.
A young man named Cyan stars in Trinity Trigger as the Warrior of Chaos, and along with friends Elise and Zantis in tow they are traveling the world of Trinitia to find the Weapons of the Gods to prepare for a fate-defining battle with the Warrior of Order. Each party member has a partner known as a Trigger, which is more or less an animal-like companion that's fully self-aware and voiced who also transforms into your weapons. All party members can eventually gain access to every weapon type by exploring dungeons, but they all have their own expertise. Cyan excels with the sword, Elise the bow, and Zantis with his axe. I unfortunately did not get to explore an entire dungeon, but you can expect puzzles and a boss fight along the way.
During my guided demo I was in a snow village called Hoplard where the townsfolk have been trying to deal with a monster in a nearby forest. After believing that the beast determines the weather for them, the townsfolk have been sacrificing citizens as tribute in hopes to stop the blizzards corrupting the town’s harvest. It was a pretty straightforward plotline and there didn’t seem to be much else to do in the town afterwards. There was a store to buy supplies and people to talk to, at least, but I didn’t experience any sidequests along the way.
Gameplay is presented in an isometric view with real-time action combat and is ultimately very straightforward and beginner friendly. Attacking consumes stamina, but tiring out didn’t stop me from being able to swing my weapon at an enemy – it just dealt miniscule damage until I stopped and let my stamina gauge recharge. Stamina is consumed by dodging as well so there was a small level of management on how I wanted to use it. In battle normal foes only have a health bar above their heads to deplete, but bosses are equipped with a stagger bar too that will temporarily stun them while the party can unleash an all-out assault. Bosses also have weapon weaknesses to discover to deal extra damage, encouraging me to experiment with the weapons I had to figure out how to prioritize the fight and which character to take control of.
Outside of stamina there are two other gauges that need managing during combat. One of them was an ultimate ability that released a devastating “super” attack that was ready to be unleased once my weapon glowed, while the other strengthened my weapon for a short time. Unlike most JRPGs there appeared to be no magic, spells, or elemental damage of any sort – and that includes healing. All healing is done by using potions, as is warding off other status effects too – like being poisoned – so I found myself rummaging through the menus a lot during battle.
Trinity Trigger is not a technically advanced game and I didn’t have any complaints on the performance playing it docked on the Switch, but visually it was rough to look at. In general, the presentation isn’t trying to stand out outside of the stunning character portraits during important and well voice acted character conversations, but if you do care about getting the best visuals or willing to give up the convenience of playing on the go I’d maybe look at the PlayStation 5 or PC versions that will be available instead.
Trinity Trigger appears to be a serviceable JRPG from what I got to play. Its biggest immediately apparent issue is that co-op play will only be available locally at launch. With so few games in the genre offering this kind of experience, knowing that players can’t squad up online in 2023 feels like a huge missed opportunity. I do want to give it its points though. It’s offering something that very few games in the genre do, and like most I come across I’m curious about the story and characters that exist in the world. I can’t say much about the story because I didn’t get exposed to much of it during the short time I got to play, but hopefully it will turn out to be a highlight. Regardless, JRPGs can be intimidating, and Trinity Trigger is looking like a great example of a relatively rare kind that will let you bring your friends along for the ride.