STAFF REVIEW of Trulon: The Shadow Engine (Xbox One)

Saturday, March 4, 2017.
by John Elliott

Trulon: The Shadow Engine Box art Watching the trailer for Trulon: The Shadow Engine I was reminded of one of the first RPG’s I ever played for SNES that has become a favorite among many: Chrono Trigger. I loved the fantasy/steampunk world that I travelled through where many of adventures were had. On this alone I was curious enough to try out Trulon to see where it placed amongst these greats.

On the graphical side of things, the developers of Trulon nailed the look for it, although a bit different than some of the 16 Bit RPG’s of the past, it comes into its own style and is reminiscent of the graphics that older gamers like myself grew up with. The look was nailed down but there was a few glitches here or there where I could walk off some maps and get stuck, to the point where I had to restart the game. Luckily, it brought be back to same spot I got stuck, but on the proper side of the map so I could continue my quest. Another annoyance that occurs often is when I had to select a chest, or any item really to be opened, the screen would shift suddenly and put me in an exact spot to open the chest. It seems like a little thing but it happened enough that it annoyed me every time it happened. You shouldn’t have to be in a specific spot to open a chest when it could easily be opened from any side.

On top of that there is one specific house in one of the cities that if you walk into, you are greeted with a black screen. I could hear the menus opening as I hit the menu button, so I figured I'd try and get out of it and leave, but unfortunately that didn’t work at all. With that bug I had to restart the game but luckily I was able to load right back into the game just before I went into the bugged house.

Luckily, they nailed down the music and sound effects to bring you deeper into the world that has been built for you to play through. Although there is no voice work for any of the characters, the change in tempos and the variety of music throughout each different area helps aid in your journeys. That journey starts you off in a small village where you as Gladia, the local monster hunter's daughter and apprentice, set off to a nearby village to give aid because your father has become injured in what you assume is a recent battle. At that village you quickly learn that there is an increase in monsters in the nearby areas, so you set off to deal with that issue and only discover more mysteries to solve. As you progress you add more characters to your party like a cleric, mage, fighter and a thief to round out the party.

There is a lot of substance to the story that has been crafted, and lot of that is picked up from taking the time to chat with NPC’s, as their little comments here and there gives you a small glimpse of what the background to this story is. With a little digging online, there is a Trulon book as well called Shadow Gears, and even a live action musical that takes place at PowerPark in Suomi, Finland. Although it’s pretty awesome the world that they have been built is these other types of mediums, it doesn’t help that this is a traditional RPG styled game with a broken card system combined with a huge curved wall to get over as you progress through the game.

First of all, I love that this a traditional RPG style game where you improve your stats as you gain experience and gain new cards to improve your deck. There are items you find along the way that you can use to increase damage, defense or add special abilities to your characters. However, there is no way to sell or buy these items anywhere else in the game and appear to be completely random drops.

For those of you not familiar with the card style of battling, you start with a basic deck where you add stronger cards and use these cards to do battle. Getting new cards are either found in chests, through battling or leveling up. When starting a battle your cards appear randomly in your hand and on top of that each character has their own individual deck. Doesn’t sound so bad? But, when you earn your cards at random you have a randomidzed deck that often doesn’t work for every battle. Cards such as healing ones are an absolute necessity and often I would get those cards when it was too late to even use them. There is of course a way to customize your deck, but the fault that lays in this game is that the only way to get new cards is by battling through the game and continuing on with the story. It doesn’t help the fact that once you use a card it is removed from your main deck for the rest of the battle and not put in a discard pile to be reshuffled in later. These decks at best are around 20 for each character at the time I rage quit the game and decided it was time to write up this review.

I am an experienced RPG player with one of my very first RPG’s played on NES being Final Fantasy, the one that really started it all. Playing greats like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Earthbound and Dragon Quest, the list will on and on as it grows every year. What drove me to rage quit is that I got to an area where I was under leveled and enemeies were over powered, which means in an RPG is that it’s time to grind some random encounters to get my level up. However, what totally boggled my mind is when I am wandering around to get these random encounters, that the level on these monsters elevated to the same as the monsters that forced me to look for random encounters. After around 10 attempts to find something I could possibly beat to gain a few levels I had to give up before my wall gained a hole from my frustrations.

I understand games get harder in RPG’s but I should never have to give up on a game because of a poor level scaling feature that was obviously not tweaked properly to make people want to quit. I want my games to challenge me and maybe make me have to re-try something about 6 times, but when you start approaching double digits you definitely know something is wrong with the balancing of the game.

Suffice to say there is quite a bit I like about this game, with how well the steampunk/fantasy setting was portrayed, which was well supported by a great backstory that was easily seen in quips from NPC’s, and if you look online there is even more there via other mediums. However, I definitely didn’t enjoy walking into a house and having to restart multiple times because I thought it might have been a one-off. On top of that, the lack of available cards, the curved wall that I hit and was almost quite impossible to get over, combined with some graphical glitches, it brings the whole experience right down. It’s a good start and something that could be built on, but a great story and great graphics doesn’t carry a game to greatness. You have to worry about all those little things as a whole to create a great experience.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 3.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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