Review by Jim S.
Trulon is a game based on an upcoming novel called Shadow Gears by Johan Lillbacka and Jak Koke. The game is also a port as it was originally released as a mobile game. Trulon tells the story of a young monster hunter named Gladia as she investigates a mysterious disease threatening her homeland.
The game takes place in a fantasy-steampunk world. Gladia's homeland Tripudia offers the fantasy, with lush farmlands and a very traditional castle. Meanwhile, Tripudia's neighbouring kingdom, Maelon, is a dark, industrial, steampunk land. After Gladia finds what she thinks is the cause of the disease, she sets out to Maelon to seek a cure and to uncover the mystery of who and why they are poisoning her people. Like with most RPG's Gladia will find new party members to help her along her way (there are four to be exact). Unlike most RPG's Trulon's story is one of its weaker points which is disappointing considering it's based on a novel. It's simply too filled with cliche and clunky writing to be particularly interesting, and because it's not interesting, it doesn't take too long to tune out to what's going on.
Gameplay fairs a bit better mostly thanks to the battle system. The map seems small and you are only allowed to go places after you hit certain points in the game, and where you are allowed to visit is represented by a big circle around the points of interest; Trulon is quite happy to drive you in the right direction from the start of the game to the end. There are some side quests you can find in towns but most feel like fetch quests, and you'll likely want to stick to the main narrative as much of possible. The exception to this rule is the treasure maps. Instead of a standard map, you get a riddle and you must figure out where on the world map a nice bit of loot is hidden.
Also, while on the world map you will run across areas where a pop-up will ask if you would like to investigate and if you do sometimes you can find items and other times monsters you can fight but you have an option of leaving instead of fighting. Some of these items that you can find you can equip to a character. These items can raise your attack or other stats. Other items will make it so at the start of a battle it will randomly pick some cards to be assault tactics and when you use one of these cards you will gain special effects. An example of these effects are heal damage, deal double damage, raise defense and so on. Each character can equip up to three of these items. This whole system does a good job in masking how linear the narrative is otherwise, because it really is quite linear. As long as you're exploring points of interest and trying to figure out where the treasures are, you're less likely to notice however.
Now the battle system in Trulon is decent the player will use cards called tactics to attack. The player can find more tactics by battling or finding them in chests. Tactics can cause all different kinds of things to happen from raising your attack while lowering your defense to stunning enemies. The tactics you find can be equipped to any member of your party unless the card is for a specific member. These cards really do add a good layer of strategy to the battles, making them a good deal of fun. Otherwise, the battles are classic turn-based affairs, although they tend to drag on for far too long and become quite tiring after a while, as they slow the pace of the game right down.
The art of the game is a beautiful hand drawn style that really fits well with the game. The main characters all have their own unique look. In battle, the characters stand still and when you attack a little animation pops up on the screen to show the attack and damage done. It's visually pleasing, but I did at times wish you could skip these as the animation loops didn't help with the pace of the battle. The soundtrack is very enjoyable I especially liked the battle theme. I just wish there was more music to go with the game, as there are some clear corners cut in there.
Being based on a novel I was hoping for a better standard of story and in being short at only around nine hours, Trulon is also far shorter than I went in expecting for a JRPG. This doesn't make the game bad. I did enjoy the characters and the battles at first, and it is still an enjoyable Sunday afternoon game. I just can't help but think this one could have been more.
- Jim S.