The idea of holding out against an unstoppable force, standing against overwhelming odds and just barely being able to survive is admirable, and rarely done well in games. Maybe it’s my love of films like Seven Samurai or my Texas history resonating, but it’s a concept that I gravitate towards and love to see. Trillion: God of Destruction is built upon this concept, and though it nails some aspects better than any other, it still doesn’t quite exceed as a “desperate last stand” game.

In Trillion, you are put in the zombified shoes of Zeablos, Great Overlord of the Underworld. The ancient god of destruction, the titular Trillion, has risen from death and is marching towards the core of the Underworld, destroying all in its path. You’re no longer able to stop Trillion yourself, as you lose both your body and brother in a fight with the awful being during the prologue. But in a deal struck with a girl fittingly named Faust, you sell your soul in order to return and train one of your underlings to stop the march of Trillion.

Training takes place in sets of days and cycles, and you are constantly staring down a countdown towards Trillion’s next advance. After consuming enough of the Underworld, Trillion stops and hibernates in an invincible state, so you have to time your attacks to when it is active. In the time between, you train your chosen underling in different areas to improve their abilities and learn new attacks, while also managing growing fatigue and practice sessions with a Trillion training dummy.

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Trillion is produced by a number of ex-Disgaea developers, and the influence shows in many ways, from art style to general tone and dialogue. There’s an air of levity, with pop-culture gags and colorful side characters who punctuate the rigorous training that makes up the main game. Even the main characters themselves are off-color and odd, and so it’s harder to enjoy what little story the game has if you don’t enjoy the typical Disgaea-esque brand of humor.

Where Trillion goes above and beyond isn’t in the jokes or even the main story, though, but in the characters you train. Whichever Lord you choose, you’re stuck with for a long, long time. There’s an attachment that develops with your chosen Lord, and the characterization of the individual Lords is surprisingly well done. I went into the game not expecting that, and chose Mammon, just based on thinking she was the least annoying. As I learned more about her backstory and reason for fighting, though, I began to enjoy the little bits of conversation that popped up during training, and the tiny flecks of character exposition sprinkled throughout weeks and weeks of rigorous, repetitive honing of her skills.

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The training is, for the most part, hands-off and repetitive. It mostly consists of choosing a task which awards you both a few points in all categories as well as a larger sum in a specific one, and then receiving points based on a number of random chance rolls and your Lord’s fatigue. There’s a bit of hands-on training to do, like venturing into the Valley of Swords to fight through a randomly generated dungeon or fighting a Trillion training dummy, but for the most part you’ll be selecting options and receiving results.

 

Combat, despite being the sole way you interact with Trillion, is one of the least-used and least-effective portions of the game. In battle, you move in a symmetric turn-based fashion: each time you move or act, every enemy moves or acts as well. (You can offset this by gaining more SPD, which makes it so enemies take longer to act compared to you.) Fights take place on a square grid, and most of combat is dodging attacks and moving into position to start chipping away at Trillion.

The concept of gradually chipping away at Trillion’s health is well done, but you actually have two failure conditions when you fight it: either your Lord dies, or Trillion advances past a certain line. Most battles I’ve had with Trillion ended in the former, as even when maxing SPD and rushing straight at Trillion, attacking over and over, the monster simply ignores me and advances onwards. The movement within combat is stiff and difficult to manage as well, as little issues like having to rotate the camera to move diagonally and options like rotating or zooming the camera being tied to odd controls meant a lot of unwanted actions and frustration.

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If a Lord does fall to Trillion, they can execute a final attack that sacrifices their life in order to permanently affect the monster in some way. You can seal away one of its limbs, halt its advance for longer, or pass more stats and abilities on to the next Lord. This is one of the better executed concepts, as it adds to the sense of desperation and sacrifice, and after so much time spent connecting with a Lord it becomes a very heart-rending moment to see them give their life in combat for their home.

The game fails to consistently hit these highs, though, and a mixture of clunky controls, a plodding main plot, and a lack of meaningful training interaction muddies up the portions that Trillion truly excels in. All of the emotion, sacrifice, and heartache over staring down a fight that will likely end in your demise is captured exceptionally well in Trillion, but it fails to work well enough as a whole to sustain those few peaks.