Trulon: The Shadow Engine is a strange twist on the standard RPG genre. Set in a beautiful steampunk world filled with magic and technology, players take on the role of a monster hunter named Gladia as she sets out to find a cure for a mysterious disease spreading around her homeland and gets caught up in the middle of a scheme set to embroil the lands of Tripudia and Maelon in war. The world of Trulon was created by the author of the game, Johan Lillback and Jak Koke, the award-winning author of The Dragon Heart Saga; one of my favorite books set in the Shadowrun series. Trulon also boasts a unique take on the standard RPG battles, in the form of cards. Sounds good so far, what could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
So Trulon: The Shadow Engine is, first and foremost, an RPG despite the card factor. You level up the characters in your party by engaging in turn-based battles. On the world map, there are random encounters, but the game asks if you want to engage in them. They are easily skippable if you don’t feel up to a fight. For the rest of the areas of the game, enemy sprites appear all over the place and you engage in battle whenever you get close enough. Each character can equip up to three different “mechanisms” which work as accessories to either enhance you characters stats or give them bonus abilities. They can also equip “tactics” but I’ll go into more detail about that in the next section. There are no stores in the game, but more tactics can always be found by defeating enemies and finding treasure chests. Now let’s take a closer look at the battle system.
The battles in Trulon operate much like a normal turn-based active time battle system does but with one exception: tactics. Tactics are essentially cards that you can find throughout the game and equip to your characters so they can be used in battle. For example; Daring Blow is an attack card that gives you +50% to your attack damage and -50% to your defense until the next round. Once a tactic is used, it is unavailable to be used again until the battle is over. However, you can equip more than one of the same card if you have any extras, there is no limit to the number of cards you can equip per character. A lot of cards can be equipped and used by any character, but there are also some cards that contain unique abilities and can only be equipped by certain members. At the beginning of a battle, each member of the party draws 3-5 tactics. You then get to draw another tactic from your equipped cards each turn until you run out. Aside from the tactics you have equipped, there is a basic attack option and an extra wildcard. The wildcard is randomly chosen from your deck and can be used by anybody. Some of the more powerful cards may require either Gaudium or Dolorum to use. This basically functions as MP would in any other RPG. It doesn’t refill after the battle. The only way to refill it is by either finding a supply tank lying around or more commonly, finding orbs scattered around the areas. In every battle random cards in your deck will be marked with a lightning bolt. These are called assault tactics and they can give your cards extra benefits if you have the proper gear equipped. This can range from stunning an enemy when used, to healing some damage or buffing a character. All this adds up to give Trulon a decent amount of strategy to its battle system. I actually enjoyed the battles quite a bit, but they can be very frustrating sometimes when you get an unexpected difficulty spike, or you just get a bad hand and enemies just roll right over you. There’s nothing you can do about it, but luckily the autosave feature works fantastically.
And that’s the only thing that works fantastically. Graphically, the world of Trulon is an aesthetically pleasing place, for the most part. Tripudia has a bright and pleasant color palette, while the grubby, debt-ridden land of Maelon has a grimy look to it, with many shades of brown and gray. There are some really unpleasant and unusual lighting glitches in parts of the game. It comes off as an odd flickering while you walk around as if your character is throwing off a light source from a torch or something, even though you aren’t carrying anything. In addition to that, there are plenty of collision problems, with parts of your character sprite glitching through immovable objects such as treasure chests and the like. The soundtrack is also made up of mostly annoying tracks that get quite repetitive. There are a few good ones, but not much variety.
It just seems to me that while Trulon starts off good, my enjoyment quickly deteriorated as the problems kept on adding up. There are just too many instances of sloppy development. A few glaring examples; in Maelon there is a lab you visit for a quest and for some reason every NPC is labeled as “Dad”. In the main journal where it should list a number of quests you completed, it simply shows your playtime. I haven’t been able to do certain sidequests because the game freezes every single time while either engaging in an encounter or loading up a special area. The biggest, most glaring flaw, however, was that the game contains a major glitch that freezes up the game every time I tried to engage in a major boss encounter near the end of the game. Because of this, I have not been able to beat the game. So in good consciousness, I cannot recommend this game to anyone. Save your money and thank me later.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for purpose of the review
Final Score: 3/10
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