Trillion: All Sizzle, No Steak - A Review
There can be too much of a good thing with some games. Trillion: God of Destruction is a good example of that.
The game is packed with systems, subsystems, and various synergies, all of which Compile Heart does fairly well when they can. It's also packed with grinding, obtuse onscreen tutorials, and wonky controls. It's like someone took all the best parts of Compile Heart games and mashed them together, but then also somehow the worst parts got in there, too. It's a phenomenal mess, and unpacking just how much of one will probably take the rest of this review.
Trillion: God of Destruction casts you as a god who must manage seven goddesses, each based on one of the seven deadly sins. To keep your corner of Hell from being wrecked by the titular god of destruction with a trillion hit points, you must raise your chosen goddess, fight the eldritch abomination on your doorstep, and send him back to the void. But a trillion hit points and numerous defenses are going to take a lot of time, effort, and training to get there, and you will have to manage interpersonal relationships and discover various secrets to gain the true ending and unlock everything.
In anyone else's hands, this would be a really cool concept. In Compile Heart's hands, it's a fairly cool concept on paper. The world needs another intricate combination dating sim/raising sim/real-time JRPG. But, in practice, the issue is that Compile Heart's usual impulses work against them. The tutorials are maddeningly vague as to how you control your character, explaining the targeting system in a way that greatly benefits your enemies. In a game this intricate, it helps to know what you're doing, but the on-screen tutorials and in-game manual just obfuscate this. Especially when those tutorials are just re-stating the options menu in different writing.
Adding to the frustration, the controls are often obtuse and difficult to figure out, making a fight that should already be difficult, border on impossible. Sometimes, obtuse controls can be a godsend, but even Dark Souls, the most unfair and unforgiving game not made by Ice Pick Lodge, gave you an intuitive tutorial. Even as a proponent of "play to find out," it helps if one can manage to play the game, rather than spending one's time confused, frustrated, and wondering why one is playing the game at all. I lost a fight because I couldn't hit the enemy in front of me. Right in front of me. This shouldn't be happening in 2017. It shouldn't even happen in 2016, when the game was released.
But what burns me up about it is, the game is actually fairly innovative. It's about maintaining relationships and drilling through intricate systems, and has a lot of depth. The characters are interesting, your fighters need to be trained for particular strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes losses mean unlocking interesting new story paths. This should be a classic, but it's not, and that has to do more with execution than anything else.
In the end, that's what it comes down to. A game should be more or less playable, regardless of what current indie thinking would have us believe. Trillion, while showing a great deal of promise, does not feel like a game that should have made it this far. It feels unpolished, obtuse, and ultimately kinda boring. Combined with some off pacing issues, the result is a game that isn't really worth recommending, no matter how good it seems on paper.