If you are a fan of the hack-and-slash JRPG genre, you are more than likely familiar with Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll. The oddly titled action RPG is a new PlayStation 3 exclusive game from Omega Force, the developer of the Dynasty Warriors series. If you don’t know anything about the game, however, we can’t blame you; this one sort of flew under the radar. It’s a classic fantasy tale with familiar Lord of the Rings lore; elves, dwarves, magic, and goblins all play their part. The main character Areus sets out on a quest for redemption, and along the way he meets two companions who predictably join him for the remainder of his adventure. The game's non-linear questing system gives players plenty of freedom, but repetitive levels, poor camera tracking, and backtracking keep this game from being a real standout. Still, if you are looking to spend tons of time questing through the same levels over and over again, Souls of Zill O’ll offers some entertaining combat housed within plenty of old school RPG elements.
Trinity surprised me. Then it bored me. Then I became a bit obsessed. And finally I settled somewhere in the middle, feeling OK to call it a decent game. Is that a problem? Of course not. A decent game is worth playing, especially if the specific genre is right up your ally. In cliché video game review statement #211, if you like this genre, you will likely enjoy this game. Since the bulk of your time in Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll involves mindlessly mashing the square, circle, and triangle buttons, I’ll start by explaining the combat.
Calling this a hack-and-slash game is a bit of an understatement. You will literally mow down hundreds of enemies during a single level. You can swap between the three characters with the push of a button, and each character has unique abilities and talents. Before too long, your thumb will get sore from thrashing at the same enemies over and over again. Each character gets three skills (you can swap between two sets of three at the push of a button) and each of these skills will come in handy in different situations. Areus, for example, is your typical sword-wielding magical fighter. His primary blade skills can handle most enemies, but his freezing abilities work great when fighting beasts near water. Likewise, his female companion Selene, a member of the vampire-like Darkeneith clan, is extremely agile and can double jump to string together a series of aerial combos. Dagda, the giant oaf of a warrior, rounds out your trio. His brute force is more than enough to handle enemies with thick armor, but he’s a bit slow to the punch. There is no multiplayer co-op, but at least your AI companions usually do a fair job of helping out. Then again, we quickly became irritated when they would just stand around, seemingly devoid of a desire to fight.
Since you can switch between the three characters, combat feels fresh for the first few hours, but this feature isn’t unique enough to really sell this game. Once you learn the basics, it’s fun to swarm a group of enemies and quickly swap between the three characters to experiment with different combos. In general, though, the combat mechanics feel a bit slow, and after several hours it quickly gets stale.
The combat experience is hindered by the annoying camera perspectives. There is no solid system to lock onto enemies. If you find yourself in a tight corridor, enemies will quickly fly behind you, leaving you to slowly turn the camera around so you can see what’s going on. During big battles things get ugly pretty quickly. Even worse, the game takes control of the camera during boss battles, offering a series of awkward angles.
The game operates on a non-linear questing system. There are hub towns where you can collect quests (netting you cash, experience, and sometimes items), but there is absolutely no town exploration. Call me old fashioned, but one of the things that makes an RPG so engrossing is exploring towns, seeing unique buildings and landmarks, and talking to the locals. You can talk to locals in a very forced manner: click the tavern in the town menu and you may hear some drunken dwarves bantering about something pointless. Of course, maybe it wasn’t pointless; maybe I just got too incredibly tired of the lame still cutscenes and text dialogue. These still cutscenes remind me of old Sierra Entertainment games from the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Omega Force, developer of Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll, seriously confused me in this respect. Were they trying to be quirky? Did their budget shrink? This isn’t something I’m going to waste a lot of time on, but these stills were out of place considering the actual animated cutscenes were pretty decent.
Despite missing out on the chance to explore towns or the open world (that’s right, you move around the map with the click of a button), Trinity offers some trusted RPG elements. You can upgrade each characters' abilities, search for the best weapons and gear, and you can even compete in the arena — after all, the main character Areus is a snarky half-elf gladiator with flaming red hair.
The actual quests are relatively varied, and best of all there are tons of side missions. There are so many quests and missions, in fact, that the main story progresses quite slowly. The story is extremely typical and barely worth mentioning. All you need to know is that Areus wants to kill his grandfather, an evil emperor. The emperor orders his daughter to be killed along with her unborn child. He also kills his own son, Prince Lugh. The prince’s son escaped and twenty years later, bang, there’s Areus, thirsty to avenge his father.
As you set out on quests to build up your strength, you’ll venture through the same levels over and over again. The levels get deeper the further you progress, but you consistently backtrack through the same levels. Backtracking is gaming’s #197 mortal sin. Yes, you’ll fight new monsters throughout the level when you return, but it’s all too repetitive for my liking.
Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll is a pretty standard game and offers enough action to keep an average fan of the genre occupied. There are quite a few flaws, but the questing structure gives you that “just one more before I quit,” feeling. Combat is enjoyable because you can quickly switch between your three characters (don’t expect much personality from any of them, by the way), but the annoying camera angles often create too many problems. If you can get past the lame storytelling, the awful town menu system, and backtracking through the same levels, you may have a great time fighting mobs of baddies over and over again. There are better games out there, of course, but Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll is enjoyable enough to give you some fresh new blisters on your thumbs.
-The Final Word-
While not the most original experience, Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll offers plenty of enjoyment with its addictive quests and massive combat sequences.