Trinoline is actually a pretty messed up story if you think about it. It’s about the protagonist meeting an android replica of his semi-blind sister, who had accidentally drowned many years ago. Given that this is a romance visual novel, you can kinda see where this is going. Regardless, it does provide for a rather average story, one that does without the fluff usually seen in the genre, but is also marred by random spikes of melodrama.
Visually appealing. If there is one thing that Trinoline does really well, it would have to be how it presents itself. The game is full of beautiful backgrounds, great character designs, and plenty of cool-looking camera angles that are not often seen in the genre (such as extreme close-ups). On top of that, it is also highly animated, with several animated scenes, character motions, and facial expressions that really lend themselves well to making a more immersive VN experience. Even the soundtrack is pretty good, further defining the game’s already great aesthetic. In fact, this aspect of the game ended up being my favorite about it, as regardless of its other problems, it at least looked good in the process.
Story without the fluff. Normally, when you play a visual novel like this, a lot of the time you spend reading it is spent on seemingly useless scenes. These can come in the form of cooking scenes, classroom antics, shopping scenes, and even the walk to and from school. All of these serve to pad the reading experience under the guise of building character, but really, most of them can be skipped without anything of value being lost. Trinoline, on the other hand, strays pretty far from this formula, providing a reading experience that doesn’t incorporate too much filler and doesn’t waste your time in getting to the actual “story”. It’s a rather refreshing take on the genre, even if it does lead to some problems (more on that later).
Custom font option. This is a rather minor pro, but it seems like most VN releases nowadays completely omit the option of having a custom font. Trinoline, however, does allow the player to set a custom font. So, if you’re not a fan of the default font, you can change it to whatever you have installed. I did like the default font, so I saw no reason to change it, but it was nice to know that I could have played through the game with TF2’s font if I wanted to.
Random spikes of melodrama. Trinoline‘s biggest problem would have to be just how it handles its drama. Given that this is a nakige (which literally means “crying game”), you’re going to have some drama, even bits of melodrama here and there. Unfortunately, Trinoline simply does not manage these elements properly, introducing random spikes of melodrama into the story that not only feel incredibly contrived, but also destroy any sort of immersion you may have had up until that point. It’s not like this just happened a few times though, it kept coming back again and again. It was like the authors deliberately wanted to maintain this high level of drama, regardless of the effects it may have on the overall story.
Unfortunately, this pretty much ruined the ending for each of the game’s character routes. Everything would be progressing at a relatively steady rate, with some drama here and there, only for this completely random melodramatic twist to be introduced in order to end the story. And this is coming from someone that regularly enjoys melodramatic stories (one of my favorite anime is Ano Hana after all). Really, the writing here just completely missed the mark on what makes those stories tick.
Shoehorned H-scenes. This only applies to the full version of the game (for which a free patch is available for the Steam version), but I found the H-scenes to be completely shoehorned into the experience. In fact, the very first H-scene was so random that I actually laughed out loud during it. They’re not only completely misplaced, but really just unnecessary given the type of story that the game goes for. This is definitely one of those visual novels that was designed without the H-scenes in mind and only had them added in order to boost sales.
In fact, I believe this to be one of the reasons behind why minori (the studio that made this game) closed down. In their official closing statement, they stated that there was a “divergence” between what they wanted to make versus what modern-day VN customers want. It felt like they wanted to make a serious, emotional story about love and moving on, but had to actually be able to sell their game, hence the inclusion of such H-scenes. Fortunately, these H-scenes are entirely optional if you get the Steam version, but that comes at the expense of playing an effectively censored version of the game.
Lackluster settings. While Trinoline does good on the font front, it unfortunately lacks in other areas when it comes to settings. These issues include the game’s tendency to revert back to windowed mode whenever you minimize or click out of it, the inability to adjust game animation speeds, and the complete lack of a window opacity option. That last one was particularly annoying to me because I usually play with a pretty distinct window, so as to make the text easy to read. Here though, the only option you have to make the text more readable is a shadow effect applied to the font, which, while a decent option, is not as good as having adjustable window opacity.
Visually, Trinoline is a rather impressive game. However, when you get to the writing side of things, it unfortunately falls flat, leaving behind a story marred by its own melodrama. I would even have a hard time recommending this to fans of melodrama, as it is just so random here that I honestly cannot understand the decent score it has on VNDB. Regardless, if you do decide to check out the game, do note that you’ll need pretty high “onii-chan” tolerance to make it through.
You can buy Trinoline on Steam here and on MangaGamer here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.