Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll Review
Imagine if there were a new Fable game that stripped out all the extraneous stuff, like jobs and families and property and stuff, and so all that was left was the action. Imagine, too, that this new Fable game lost any sense of humor the franchise is known for and took 50 hours to complete.
Something like what you just imagined exists, and it’s called Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll, a PS3-exclusive JRPG fresh off the boat from Japan.
Souls of Zill O’ll is an Eastern action RPG from Omega Force (Dynasty Warriors). Being that it’s an Omega Force game, comparisons to Dynasty Warriors are certainly warranted, and the similarities are there, but the Fable comparison is pretty much perfect for determining exactly why it was really annoying to play this game.
Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll (PS3 [Reviewed])
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Tecmo KOEI
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Fundamentally, the main aspect of the game, the combat, is the same in both games, with the main difference being that Zill O’ll features the kind of long-ass boss battles you expect from a JRPG. They’re also similar in that neither is difficult, and so the combat is all a great big grind. You fight because you have to fight in order to progress and level up, and not because you enjoy it.
There is a twist, though. Most of the time, you’ll have a three-person party (never more than that), and you can switch between characters on the fly. Three each have almost mutually exclusive abilities (your giant friend destroys things with ease, and your hot vampire lady can jump higher than the others), and so I did find myself switching occasionally, but for the most part I would stick with one character in combat, because switching in the middle of combat is headache-inducing, and would always end up using the wrong powers.
Choosing which ability to use is simple if you’re only using one character; abilities are mapped to square, triangle and circle, and you can map two tiers you can switch between with R2. It becomes dizzying, then, to try to work from six tiers of abilities. In most situations, you’ll instead determine early in a dungeon which character works best against the enemies you face, and you’ll stick with it for the duration.
I started off talking about the combat because that’s the overwhelming majority of the game, even moreso than is normal in JRPGs. Of the 55 hours I spent playing it, about 50 were spent fighting, with four hours or so spent reading text on static cutscenes (like the one pictured above) and maybe an hour watching actual cutscenes. (This game seemed positively annoyed by the idea that it should have voice acting.)
Believe it or not, the game is a prequel to a little known PS1 RPG (which was remade on PS2) that never made it to North America; I say “believe it or not” because even Wikipedia isn’t aware the game is part of a franchise. That it is part of a franchise, though, makes it all the more strange that the presentation the game world is so confused.
The story is about the half-elf grandson of the evil emperor of the Dyneskal Empire, who is prophesized to kill said emperor. Evil Old Man, also known as Balor, tried to kill all his children, but the illegitimate sons of the prince survive, and one of them, Areus, grows up to be a fighter, joins up with a hot vampire and a giant dude, and heads out to murder the evil emperor.
All the action takes place on a single continent, which the people all refer to as “the continent,” despite the Dyneskal Empire having the word “empire” in its title, it would sort appear that it was preemptively named an empire as it doesn’t seem to own any territory outside its capital city. I realized this when folks started talking about Dyneskal making a push north even though that capital city was the northernmost city on the continent. Then I realized the three cities directly east south and west of the capital also did not belong to this “empire.”
Later, after having visited every city on the continent several times, I began to learn that the cities all belong to different nations, which seemed strange because none of these nations were on the map, which had led me to believe, during the first 35 hours of gameplay, that this continent was operating under some kind of anarchic feudal system because Dyneskal had been the only “nation,” and Balor the only leader of any sort, mentioned thus far.
For a moment, I thought I could relate to people who can’t find Wyoming on a map, but then I remembered that our maps have Wyoming on them, and anybody who can read should be able to find it.
Not that the arrangement of things on the continent matters since it’s only the size of Connecticut. OK, that’s probably not true, but nobody ever says how big it is and people seem to walk back and forth across it with ease and everybody knows everybody. NPCs tend to act like traveling from one corner to the other is like walking down the street to buy some smokes. That the cities are all represented entirely in menus only makes that seemingly small scope seem even smaller, and it does’t help that there are only about fifteen dungeons, total, to crawl through, and you’ll end up crawling through a couple of them over a dozen times if you do any of the “sidequests.”
There is a hint of personality in the game, which I assume was provided by the localization team. But it’s just a hint — usually involving folks being drunk in a bar in a static cutscene. It’s a shame, because the only reason anybody enjoys Fable games is because of that franchise’s intensely hilarious personality; take that away, and you have Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll, early frontrunner for the “Dullest Game of the Year” award.
- It’s easy (is that a compliment?)
- It’s not really an unpleasant experience
- But it is a really annoying experience
- Maybe ten hours worth of story crammed into a 55-hours game
- No personality