By Diego Hernandez / February 17th, 2020
|Release Date||April 18th, 2019|
|Genre||Romance, Psychological, Visual Novel|
TRINOLINE is MangaGamer’s most promising release from last year. To help understand why, let’s find out who made this. The very same development team behind impactful stories like the ef series and Supipara. If you’re not familiar with these works, they’re a team that maximizes immersion and coats it with classic artwork, and an unparalleled story. Their reputation certainly precedes them as MangaGamer is hard at work localizing as much of minori as they can after the closure. Returning to TRINOLINE, Japan got its lucky hands on it back in 2017. After two years of admirable translating efforts, MangaGamer officially released their localization on April of last year. While I’m already singing the praises to the developer, there is a game to review. The main question that needs an answer now is: How does TRINOLINE hold up to the hype?
Buckle up, cause we have a rough beginning to this tale. You’re a standard high school student, by the name of Shun Nanami, with nothing outstanding besides your connections to some amazing people. More on that in a bit. In the quiet times after school you recall a dark memory of one hot summer day. The day the sea claims the life of your younger sister. A traumatic experience that haunts you and your mother. However, it serves as a driving force to make the most of your life since hers was cut short. In any case, one day you’re on your way to the school gates when you encounter something that seems to good to be true. A girl that looks exactly like your sister before your very eyes playing the piano in the music room. Furthermore, she acknowledges you as her older brother. What the hell is going on?
While you have no outstanding qualities, you do have a pair of amazing friends. Among them, a researcher. It turns out that one of your long-time friends has taken it upon herself to mend the wounds of a traumatic past. Her method involves the creation of a new type of android that serves to co-exist alongside the humans following a set of rules. The term for this project is known as Trino. This new sister serves as the fruit of so many years of labor. Understandably, the news becomes hard to process. The people around you question the integrity of the situation, yet you are willing to give this a chance. What follows is an emotional journey filled with questions about the world as we know it. Welcome to TRINOLINE.
Before we address what just happened in the first few minutes of your new adventure, let’s meet the most important characters. Let’s begin with SHIRONE Nanami. You’ll do well to take note of the capitalized name. Yes, she’s undeniably an android, TRINO if you will, with the looks of your younger sister. Through the power of technology and science, she even has the memories of her family and friends before she passed. However, because she is a prototype of sorts, her ability to read the room and make more thoughtful comments is limited. That all changes once she’s placed in your capable hands for some time. SHIRONE is as pure as it gets, her personality coupled with her wonderful smile are a reader’s delight. A perfect character to have alongside you as you navigate your day-to-day tasks. However, who made her?
Let me introduce you to Sara Tsumugi, a girl who is a brilliant android researcher. A childhood friend to trump all other childhood friends. With a seemingly cold exterior as readers will come to notice over the course of the read, she’s still a girl. Furthermore, she’s the same age as our main character. She cares deeply about you and the wound that opened on that faithful summer day deeply affected her too. The motivation for her actions lies in the desire to see your bright smile again. I would argue she’s the best character out of the three. However, I’ll leave you to cast your own judgement. Just note that the case for her is a strong one. Regardless, the most mature girl of the bunch is a mystery for the first few hours of the game. Should you rise to the challenge, a long road awaits.
There’s in fact a third character to take note of on your way to experiencing this endeavor and that’s Yuuri Miyakaze. Another childhood friend who lives on the wild side of life in comparison to Sara. A member of the disciplinary committee that still acts like a delinquent. However, she’s a very kind girl who won’t say no to a request from the people she deeply cares about. Yuuri is another person who feels they must make the most of life after a devastating loss in Shirone. Unlike you though, she has her own battle to fight and it’s going to be up to you to figure things out and get her back on track. With regards to SHIRONE, like most people, the addition comes as a shock and it takes time for her to adjust to her presence. More details to follow. She’s a wonderful character, no doubt.
Now that the groundwork is laid out, let’s discuss the story parameters. TRINOLINE is a very hard-hitting story about dealing with loss in more ways than one. It’s a story that questions life, our perception towards change, and even our morality. An example of the tough times comes at the moment when SHIRONE is introduced. Her existence brings up painful memories of the real Shirone and some characters even question if Sara was thinking about the consequences of her actions. It hurts to see an innocent character be treated as such, but you can’t completely deny the other side of the argument either. That’s the beauty of the minori writing this time around and that’s just one drama to deal with. The amount of drama in TRINOLINE, the amount of times it tugged at the heart strings, is unlike anything I saw before.
What helps the story come across and really sting when it must lies within the presentation. TRINOLINE presents itself in a movie-like manner. We know how developers constantly add facial animation to bring life to the characters. However, with this one, it doesn’t stop there. If you’re walking from home to school, you’ll see that walk from beginning to end. If you’re having a heart-to-heart at the beachside, you’ll see everything from the facial expression to the beauty of the sea and contemplate it all. The amount of life that goes into the emotional highs in the story are truly a sight to behold. Furthermore, you can’t discount how the vivid art style and voice acting truly make this a pleasing experience for our eyes and ears. TRINOLINE is a complete visual package and should the review end here, it’d certainly be a masterpiece.
There’s just one massive issue with the story and it’s the pacing. Sure, when you get to those intense moments, you’ll walk away from your play session questioning your own life. However, the journey to get there is usually one that just takes a while. You will find a few cute moments here and there, but you’ll quickly find yourself disengaged with the content. As a result, you may not have the motivation to continue reading and that sucks considering how great the high points of the story are. If you do intend to pick this up, don’t let this discourage you. The only other set of issues lie within the UI options and the troublesome backlog to review previously said lines. Some minor annoyances but nothing to sway you from purchasing and crying to the story. The lewd scenes are tremendous for their detail on the naughty bits.
With regards to the translation, I can’t even begin to imagine how much work MangaGamer put into it. An example being when you consider all the animations, facial and the like, the amount of technical work put into TRINOLINE is out of this world. Furthermore, to execute on a very well-written and concise script that did the job and then some with minor limitations is amazing. It never felt out of place and it took perfect consideration of the characters’ personality. The quality surprised me since we got this game so fast after its initial Japanese run. An impressive job for sure.
TRINOLINE is a visual masterpiece with a dramatic story that’ll leave you in tears. Regardless of the few glaring issues, this is undoubtedly a must-read. It will take a lot of stamina to power through the low points of the story, but once you get there, you’ll experience something truly incredible. My game clock informs me that I spent 33 hours reading this which justifies the $34.95 price point. Pick it up today on MangaGamer and Steam and once you’re done prepare yourself mentally for the next endeavor.
Game provided by publisher for review purposes.