How in the Underworld do you defeat an evil deity with a trillion hit points? Level grind like there is no tomorrow? Get the best equipment money can buy? Participate in a bunch of random events that have no relevance whatsoever in getting tougher? Well, it appears that you have to do all of that and then some in Compile Heart’s newest endeavor and first entry in the “Number 1 House in Hell” or “Makai Ichiban Kan” series, Trillion: God of Destruction. Bringing together a surprising ensemble of talent like director and designer of Disgaea 4 – Masahiro Yamamoto and the series esteemed music composer Tenpei Sato, it’s certainly a far cry from the usual territory the company is used to traversing. However, for this title and entry in particular – I have to say that I’m mildly impressed of what it has to offer.
Title: Trillion: God of Destruction
Genre: SRPG, Rougelike,
Developer: Compile Heart (Localized by Idea Factory International)
Length: 15-30 hrs
As alluded to in the opening remarks, Trillion: God of Destruction is a game that is more of a lesson in futility and unwavering tenacity in the face of a ridiculously imposing foe. Players take on the role of Zeabolos, the third Great Overlord of the Underworld whose rule is going swimmingly until big bad Trillion shows up wreaking havoc. After going toe-to-toe with the beast, Zeabolos is on the verge of death until a mysterious woman named Faust gives him another chance at life in exchange for his soul after Trillion is defeated. Unable to fight in his weakened state, Zeabolos calls upon his seven most trusted companions to aid him, all having to the chance to become the next ruler, if they are able to defeat Trillion first. It’s a wild and crazy premise, one that only the director of the Disgaea series can think up, but all the same, a very difficult game that might be too tough for RPG neophytes and admirers, yet certainly one that will most likely appeal to those wanting to go beyond the sane and typical final boss battles many titles can offer.
At its core, Trillion is somewhat of a game with multiple genre faces, but first and far most would have to be best described as a training simulator. From the beginning, players will choose an Overlord they wish to work with over the course of several “Cycles”. With each Cycle containing seven days, the player will have the chance to choose one action each day with the end goal of having the character ready to do battle with the titular antagonist. Since the game is more about working toward building your characters stats and learning new skills, the Training Center is most likely where most of the time will be spent and where the player can choose from a host options to guide they’re characters growth. Depending on a slew of factors, the player will receive a grade ranking between “Poor” to “Excellent” along with points relating to that exercise. Where a grade of “Excellent” or “Great” means more points, it also means netting a Training Medal, a special currency used to enter the Valley of Swords, an area where the game then turns into a rougelike of sorts and allows the player 120 Turns to grab all the items, gear, and defeat monsters they can before getting out. Making it to the exit or using an escape item will allow players to keep their loot, but fail and all progress made will be lost. Not only is this the only and best way to get better equipment that the shop can’t always provide, but also doesn’t expend any time. Another important option that doesn’t use time is giving gifts – special items that can only be obtained from the Underworld Prize machine using special tokens (you receive each day regardless of action). With each Overlord having their own likes and dislikes they will respond in different ways to the gift given, but if they like it, you receive a certain amount of Affection points, another mechanic that I will touch upon soon and one more useful tool for helping in the battle with Trillion.
Between all the random events that may help or hinder you and making sure you are balancing your characters growth while using your time to the fullest, at the end of very week you will be required to have a mock battle against Mokujin, a replica of Trillion made by Faust. Not only does Mokujin know all of Trillions attacks and mimics his behavioral patterns (depending on the phase you are on), it also gets tougher and gains more HP every time you defeat him. Just like how the Valley of Swords helps test out your Active and Passive battle skills as well as being efficient with your movements, Mokujin will drill you in how be effective as well as recover if you happen to come to impasse that may seem difficult to overcome. Looking at the core elements of gameplay in this fashion, their not just a bunch of ideas strung together, but actually compliment each other very well and make the training and how you train mean more than the actual fight. When you come to the end of a Cycle and done all you can, it is then time to take on Trillion himself. Spending the training points on boosting your parameters and gaining skills is a must, because as you will discover an arduous battle awaits.
Despite the mock fights being nearly identical to what you are bound to experience, Trillion can be a freighting foe for the first time, but can become a pushover if you put the mock fights to good use…yet don’t go too far as to underestimate him. Depending on how you built up your character, it is a very real possibility with one slight move you will die instantly and you don’t want that…however, that is where Affection points come in. Aside from acting as an expendable resource that will determine how long you can use Active battle skills before they consume SP, they also act as buffer in protecting your HP if you happen to take damage. As intense and tense as the bouts can get making sure that you are topped off in Affection points is probably the best thing you can do during the preparation phase, since if you find things going south and want to retreat (which you can do up to 3 times), making sure you at least have some is the only way. If you are lucky enough to retreat, depending on how much damage dealt, Trillion will begin to consume a part of the Underworld after battle. With seven levels composed of six sections each, if Trillion makes to the last level or you lose all your Overlords you get a Game Over.
Since no one Overlord can defeat Trillion and you are bound to run out of retreats…saying goodbye – the death of one your characters is inevitable and the hardest part…after training them for so long and learning about them through events. However, before the last moments, the characters will perform one final act carried out through a Death Skill. From giving the next Overlord more time to train to even sealing a body part that gives Trillion a specific ability, Death skills are very useful in helping continue the fight. You can only choose one ability per character death, but will be invaluable to make sure the next attempt goes better. Only giving a portion of training experience to the next character upon death, all items equipped, weapon upgrades, and skills don’t carry over, yet with each Overlord different in how you will want and choose to use them…that the experience is all you need to get started. Even so, I still do tear up thinking about sending off your cousins, nieces, even your ***** (sorry, no spoilers here) off to die and having to continue that process. Each death gives you the hope to go on, yet “can Trillion be beaten or even crippled with the next character” is the question? Regardless, if you did (and mostly likely will) fail on your first playthrough (I got to the True ending path on my first run and still failed), the next will allow you carry over all items, money, 10% of training experience, and gifts with only training/gift tokens and weapon improvements excluded.
For those familiar with Kei Nanameda of Mugen Souls fame, he returns here to do the character designs and most of the artwork. And much like Mugen Souls, most of the characters sport the same wide-eyed and moe driven characteristic, so your mileage of enjoyment/tolerance may highly vary. Of course, composer Tenpei Sato handling a few of the tracks will probably be up more agreeable with most sensibilities and taste – providing a lot of hot-boiled and Baroque inspired pieces for the soundtrack. Sounding more akin to his past work in the Disgaea and Nippon Ichi catalog, it is the opening and closing themes (Sato having a hand in the latter) that really set the mood with the rest of the tracks following the lead.
As aforementioned, with your first playthrough most likely to end in failure and be the fuel for subsequent ones and going after the post-game challenge mode (no random events to help you out here) as well as the other character endings, Trillion is a game that will give the fool-hearty RPG player a run for his/her money and time. With one part sim elements and the other strategic planning, I wouldn’t feel right recommending it to those still getting their feet wet in the RPG pond, yet sure those well acquainted with the Disgaea name or similar probably won’t have any trouble acclimatizing. Even with a few shortcomings and a few minor nitpicks, Trillion: God of Destruction is an okay title for those wishing to pit themselves against a very formidable – albeit, achievable scenario. With Compile Heart finally beginning to branch out into other ventures aside from the Galapagos RPG or Neptuina franchises, I do hope that the Makai Ichiban Kan is the start of something great. So far, Trillion seems to be good tidings of that coming to fruition.
Pros: Random events help break up the monotony and adds to simulation elements, tactical gameplay mixed with rougelike elements, Overlords vary in strengths and weakness with ability to direct the build, nice interplay of drama and humor within the story and the key concept.
Cons: A few non-disruptive technical issues, idea of multiple playthroughs of similar scope might be unattractive for some players, abilities and utility between characters don’t differ all that much.
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by Idea Factory International. All images and rights to them belong to Ideal Factory International/Compile Heart/ and only for review purposes.