Trulon: The Shadow Engine – What We Think:
Trulon: The Shadow Engine begins in the lush, green land of Tripudia. Based off a novelization, this turn-based RPG promises a story steeped in lore and a fantasy adventure worth investing time into. Instead, the player is treated to never-ending fetch quests, a mediocre battle system and not nearly enough storyline to get a true sense of plot.
The opening overworld visuals consist of a beautiful countryside, weaving a colorful tapestry of nostalgia graphically reminiscent of Chrono Trigger. Don’t get too excited, as the next area visited is the only other overworld in the world map. The neighboring region of Maelon has more of a barren industrial vibe, with its NPCs given a steampunk look juxtaposed to the quiet villagers of Tripudia.
Monster Hunter by Day, Political Activist by Night
Taking control of young monster hunter Gladia, the storyline immediately pits her as a brave character out to do good and save her country, even though the political powers that be insist that she stay out of global matters. What starts off as a quest to discover the origin of a strange artifact that she believes is poisoning her people quickly turns into doing small favors for every person she encounters in order to eventually get what she needs to progress.
A few characters join her quest, although for seemingly unimportant reasons. I found the character development to be in the same realm as the plot: virtually non-existent. It seems that this title was released more as a fan service for readers who have spent time with the novelization.
The fantasy-esque soundtrack of Trulon: The Shadow Engine does a great job evoking peaceful tranquility in Tripudia, then lingering despair in Maelon. The battle soundtrack was very well written as it remains enjoyable throughout consistent listening – one of the most important features of a battle theme, considering usually half of the game or more is spent listening to it.
Make Use of Those Wild Cards
Another saving grace for Trulon is the battle system itself. It is turn-based, and the four playable characters use cards to attack or use abilities. These cards are called Tactics and are equipped to whichever character you desire; however, bear in mind that they each have specific Tactics that can only be assigned to them. This sort of gives each character a “job class,” insinuating that certain characters are built for support, others for defense and debuffs, and others primarily for attacking.
In the battle screen, a few cards will be drawn randomly on the left. This is where a little bit of luck and strategy comes into play, as these cards are one-use only. On the right is your basic attack command, alongside with a wild card. A wild card can be used without any repercussions of losing the card out of your deck, and it is also randomly assigned.
You found something! Investigate? You Should.
Battles can be drawn out because of this, with normal encounters lasting around five to eight minutes, and boss fights lasting over ten. This is also due to the length of the uninteresting battle animations that occur after every action. Encounters in dungeons will not start until you walk up to a group of enemies, standing in the distance like sentries. Be prepared to grind for a bit, as the enemies become overpowered early on in the game.
The world map has a nice feature; occasionally a message will pop up asking if you would like to investigate something you found. Half of the time this is an encounter with enemies, but it can also be a small area in which you will find a treasure chest with a stat-boosting item you can equip, as well as an orb that grants experience and replenishes some of your magic points. HP is automatically restored after each battle, but your magic points are not. Those little orbs definitely come in handy, as the only other way to restore your magic is in towns.
Get a Visit from the Glitch Gremlin
I’m sure Trulon: The Shadow Engine works well as the mobile title it was originally released as, but this PC port is full of issues. To avoid getting too technical, I’ll say that this game had a lot of what I like to call “laggies and jaggies.” Graphical glitches cause lag in larger areas, combined with jagged textures making the game run extremely slow, testing the patience of any gamer. In fact, you’ll have more luck if you turn off some of the video processing, such as antialiasing and dithering. The amount of times I had to restart due to glitches definitely extended what should only be a six-hour playthrough.
If you’re a fan of tactical card-based RPGs, I would say stick to the mobile version of Trulon: The Shadow Engine. At a lower price point than this glitch-ridden PC port, there’s a lot of fun to be had just from the battle system alone. However if you prefer your RPGs story-heavy, you’d better look elsewhere.
Trulon: The Shadow Engine is available via Steam.
Watch the Official trailer for Trulon: The Shadow Engine below: