Monday, March 21, 2016

Trillion: God of Destruction - Early Impressions

For the sake of keeping focused, and keeping you in the know I'm going to do this early impressions review about "Trillion: God of Destruction". I am free to write/type as I please since there is no embargo, so no worries there. Just take these impressions for what they are. It's not a definitive review just yet as I am still trying to figure things out.

When it comes to categorizing this particular PS Vita exclusive I have found it to be more akin to an interactive visual novel due to it's heavy dialogue, deeply involved character interactions, and deep seeded character development. Sure, it has some gameplay in it, but that RPG style gameplay is very limited. What you'll be doing with most of your time in 'Trillion: God of Destruction' is micro-managing your current overlord during a series of cycles, or weeks. This cyclic training ties in with the story's premise which basically involves a last ditch effort to save the underworld from total destruction. The game's story, as it were revolves around the inhabitants of an underworld that is much like the hell of Christianity, and slightly like the Hades/underworld from Greek mythology. It has a leading demon overlord (Zeabolos), and his overlord underlings which are each seven deadly sin stereotypes. During the games introductory narrative, and following tutorials it is made known that a god of destruction that is called "Trillion" is consuming the underworld in which these denizens of the damned reside from the surface inward. Zeabolos, in his vanity thinks he can deal with the problem easily, but in attempting to do so along with his brother he suffers a near fatal wound. After being fatally wounded a mysterious person of interest (Faust) enters the scene to do some devilish bargaining. For his soul, and flesh she offers to help him exact his revenge on Trillion, and save his underworld from destruction. Thus the underworld's fight for survival ensues.

The first thing you'll need to understand as a gamer is that 90% of your time in 'Trillion: God of Destruction' will be spent training one of three overlords (Levia, Mammon, Perpell) in preparation for an end fight with the god of destruction. Each overlord is stereotypical of the seven deadly sins, and physically embodies that sin through actions, and reactions. Perpell, for example is the overlord of gluttony. She's always thinking about sweets, and drools at the thought of food. Levia, and Mammon also act in a manner that is akin to their sinful stereotypes as well. When all the characters are introduced, and the initial story setup plays out you will be tasked with choosing your first overlord out of these three characters. After choosing your first overlord you will be instructed on what it is that you need to do.

This series of optional tasks comes in the form of several separate menu options that each serve as their own character development function. You'll find options for training your character, equipping her with the best possible equipment, learning skills which can be used in battle, and building her stats in preparation for the final fight. The training options which are guided by two different supporting characters will boost stats, and help your overlord to learn skills that can be used when fighting against the training boss Mokujin, or against Trillion. Each training option will take up a day of your cycle just like some of the other in-game options. Speaking of that the day, and cycle feature governs how much time you can spend developing, and building upon your overlord. Each cycle has seven days to it. This is lessened with the passing of an overlord, or increased through a character's 'Death Skill' during their fight against Trillion. The 'Death Skill' being an optional final death wish in which a character can choose from several options to help the next overlord in line have a better fighting chance. Whether you train via the training options, improve upon the stats manually, or choose one of the other available menu options that is tethered to the characters' equipment you will be spending days of your cycles preparing them for a seemingly impossible fight.

When it comes to the training options you'll find several areas in which the training takes place. Training in these given areas each build upon a certain attribute stat, and in doing so also builds up a fatigue meter. This fatigue meter goes hand in hand with the cycles in that it affects your training, and character progress. The higher the fatigue the more likely it is to affect your training in a negative manner. To start of with (at zero fatigue) you will be earning gold medals which signify that your training was at it's most beneficial. The more fatigued you get though, and the more you train while fatigued the lesser in quality the earned medals will get, and the less effective that training will be. That is where the 'Rest' menu system comes into play.

Within the 'Rest' menu you'll find several sub-menus, or options that can each be used to your overlord's benefit. The one you'll want to used when fatigued though is "Sleep" as it will rest the character for a full cycle day, and clear out all amassed fatigue. Other available options aside from 'Sleep' include 'Interact', 'Monetize?', and 'Lottery'. The 'Interact' option will allow the overlord to get better acquainted with Zeabolos through animated events, and help them build upon their affection which in turn helps negate damage when fighting Trillion, Mokujin, or minions in the "Valley of Swords". The 'Monetize?' option, on the other hand will help to earn you some extra currency to buy equipment via Faust's shop as well as some devil companions which will assist in battle, or even weapon upgrades at the 'Blacksmith'. Lastly the lottery is sort of a novelty option in that it will gift you vending matching items in exchange for the tokens that you earn through character development. These items, which effect different overlords differently when gifted to them will also build upon the affection meter. It should also be noted that there are certain circumstances tied to training which will boost the medal effect for a full seven days, or boost skill learning. Supposing you score three gold medals in a row you will hit "Fever Time" which will allow you to earn gold medals for each training session for a total of seven cycle days. The opposite is true for the other boosting option. Supposing you get the least of the medals three times in a row you will be shown mercy with a skill boost for the same seven day length.

Aside from training, and the menu options tied to such character development you will also be able to interact with characters during animated events that sometimes include multiple choice options which will change the character development process in one way, or another. These events come into play after spending time doing training activities, or by simply passing time through 'Sleep' among other things. The events are mostly about character development within the story, but there are some exceptions like the 'Interact' sessions in which affection is built upon.

As far as battle goes you'll find three different options in place. These include the cemetery in which you will battle lesser enemies while looting treasure chests, and collecting items with a limited amount of actions to use. This action mechanic actually plays out a lot like the one in "The Guided Fate Paradox" in that it is a dual-action situation. As you move, or act an opposing minion or boss will act/react as well. In the case of the "Valley of Swords" (which requires five earned training points per play) your movements and actions will also be governed by a set number of actions. You are basically given a set number with which to do the looting, fight off the enemies, and make it to an end portal for exit/completion. Each action depletes one action number. This numerical demand is not present in the Mokujin mock boss fight, or the final fight against Trillion though. And unlike those boss battles the 'Valley of Swords' playthroughs are more maze-like, and random in nature.

The Mokujin mock boss battle, on the other hand is an option that appears only a couple of times in an overlord's playthrough. After meeting certain in-game requirements the option will open up, and you will face a battle that is much like the fight against Trillion. Both Mokujin, and Trillion are enormous multi-part bosses situated at the end of a lane that is squared off. As you move forward towards them (block by block) they will send out lesser enemies to stop your progress as well as powerful attacks that will deplete your affection meter first, and your HP (life) last. Supposing you can get close enough you can deal damage to various parts of the boss before they end your life. Keep in mind you can do standard melee attacks with the overlord's weapon, or use skills that were acquired, and upgraded during your overlord training sessions. Should you find yourself near death you can also 'Retreat' via an option of the same name, and use that escape to train a little longer with the overlord before engaging in the fight again. This option ties in mostly with Trillion though. The option is limited in those regards, and once you've retreated you'll have lesser, and lesser days to train before returning to the fight.

Once you die against Trillion, and you will, your overlord will apply their 'Death Skill' which will allow for the following overlord to benefit from their untimely demise. The 'Death Skills' include options to deal some serious last moment damage, to fortify the next overlord's weapon, to become an assisting spirit like the devil assist minions you can purchase from Faust's shop, to bind a part of Trillion, or to give the next overlord more time to train. Depending on how far you are into the game, and what your circumstances are the best suiting choice will be the one which will best benefit you. Keep in mind that once all overlords are dead it is "Game Over". Meaning that your efforts to stop Trillion were in vain. Thus prioritizing your training options, and building your overlords up for the battles ahead is what this game is all about.

Side menu options, and in-game aspects beyond these include a 'Royal Quarters' menu in which you can check up on Trillion's status (his life standing, his current transformation, his consumption progress ...), and various other unlockables. Things like an enemy bestiary which showcases the enemies, and strategies against them as well as gifts and their overlord effectiveness ratings are among some of the extra things you'll discover awaiting you in this menu. Supposing you complete the game you'll also be able to listen to the game's soundtrack via the "Music" sub-menu/option.

Impressions ...

In my playthrough I managed to understand the game at base level. I figured out all of the character development options, and was able to apply my own strategy at facing off against the threat that is Trillion. At the same time though I just could not grasp how to deal with the Mokujin, and Trillion boss fights. I know you are supposed to advance forward to get close enough to damage the bosses, but doing so is confusing. As you get closer, and as the boss dishes out it's attacks the squared off tiles before you will go from being environmentally colored to yellow, to orange, and finally to red signifying that the boss attack is about to land. The problem I had with this was that I couldn't figure out which squares were safe, and which were not. As you get closer to Trillion, or Mokujin the tiled area will become an inescapable sea of reds, oranges, yellows, and even purples. None of which is fully explained in the provided tutorials. Sure, you can stand in place and attack in order to bait the boss and the lesser enemies to advance, but getting close enough to do significant damage is nearly impossible.

In my observations I did find that the speed attribute, or stat which you can level up during character development does play a role in how early the bosses begin to attack. This does help you get your overlord closer to the bosses, but still doesn't help you stay out of harm's way, or understand how you are supposed to stay out of harm's when close to the boss. I also understand that the developer is pushing the character development mechanics as being the most important aspect of gameplay, because everything else seems to come in a second to last place of importance. It's all about preparations, and a final fight. I just wish the boss fights were more approachable, and easier to understand. I also wish that the game had been less about character development, and more about actual gameplay. I feel having only boss fights, and short-lived looting outings wasn't the best way to go about delivering this game's more interesting interactive features. 

At the same time I do get what the developer was trying to do, and in a way the character development process did help flesh out the story more. I do like such innovative touches, but with the complicated boss fight setup it did hurt my opinion of the game a bit. I will see my playthrough to the end though, and will do a final review verdict in an upcoming article. As it stands now my opinions of the game are not set in stone.

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