I’ll admit, when I first heard the concept of a game where you fight a boss with a trillion hit points, I expected a fun tactical game with cutesy anime girls. What I didn’t expect was an emotional fist to the gut.
Makaishin Trillion is a new game for the PS Vita from Compile Heart where you play a lord of Hell trying to protect his realm from being slowly devoured by the being, Trillion. Your first encounter with the beast destroys your body, so the only way you can hope to stop it is to send the arch demons of Hell one by one in a battle to the death.
The initial setup is actually pretty convincing and does a good job of getting you emotionally invested in what’s going on. Hell is suddenly invaded by the being Trillion. To stop it, you send in your armies led by your brother, Astaroth. Unfortunately, it is quickly discovered that Trillion’s aura is lethal to all but the most powerful of demons. Your army is decimated and your brother is killed. You engage the creature one-on-one, but you too are killed, but not before one final dying blow that causes Trillion to enter a brief hibernation.
You are then awakened by Faust, a magician who offers to help you destroy Trillion. Your battle against it has rendered your body useless, but your essence remains intact and can be used to protect someone else from Trillion’s deadly aura.
So, while Trillion sleeps, you must select one of the remaining six arch demons to fight in your stead. Once Trillion is defeated, the throne of Hell will belong to the victor, and your soul will belong to Faust.
The cast of Trillion is a colorful bunch with most of the arch demons falling into your typical anime girl archetypes—the tomboy, the lolita, the tsundere, etc. As cookie-cutter as the character may seem, both the character bios and voice acting do an excellent job at rounding them out. That, and the overhanging imminent doom that is Trillion has a Stockholm Syndrome-like effect that quickly endears you to them.
The basic gameplay combines stat-building simulation for the training of the arch demons, and rogue-like dungeon crawler for the actual combat. Aside from fighting Trillion, there are also training dungeons and a periodic Trillion simulator that you fight that keep the gameplay fresh.
Fighting Trillion is the real meat of the game and it is pretty daunting. Properly trained, you will probably be able to whittle off a few hundred million to a few billion per hit, but damaging Trillion isn’t the problem. The real strategy comes in dodging Trillion’s attacks. Trillion’s attacks are forecasted on the map’s grid, so you can run around to avoid the areas of effect, but the attacks are varied, numerous, and frequent. Often you’ll only get in a couple of hits before you have to quickly dance around the map, lest you get smacked with a whopper of a blow that, if it doesn’t kill you, will certainly leave a mark.
If Trillion makes it from one side of the map to the other, it will continue its slow consumption of Hell. How much it devours will depend on how much damage you’ve managed to inflict. Once Trillion has eaten its fill, it will fall into hibernation again and you’ll be given some more time to train and prepare for the next bout.
If you manage to survive a round with Trillion and get a chance to train some more, you’ll likely find your next encounter much easier (and, in fact, almost satisfying) as you float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. This is an illusion. Damage Trillion enough and it will evolve into a more powerful form with a whole new set of deadly attacks.
You will fail. No matter how well you prepare, no matter how much you think you can game the system, you will fail and whoever you have selected to fight in your place will die. Makaishin Trillion is a practice in futility, and this is where the game hurts the most. When you first start the game, you will have to choose one of three arch demons, Levia, Mammon, and Perpell. From her design and the voice actress who gave her life, Levia was instantly my favorite, and with the impossible task at hand, I thought I could find a way for her to survive, even if it meant sacrificing the other two.
The death of Mammon and Perpell stung a lot more than I thought it would. Through their training and events, you get to know and arch demons in your care, and I honestly couldn’t help but feel an emotional attachment growing—something that made it all the more painful when they fell in combat against Trillion. Still, through their sacrifice, and the upgrade points that carried over, Levia managed to become quite a powerful little demon. Enough so that even in its second form, Trillion was no match for her. She trounced the boney devourer, and even though I knew it had another evolution in store, I thought she might be able to survive it.
I envy that naïve me. Trillion tore her apart and try as I might, after loading and reloading, I could not beat it. In the end, I had no choice but to submit to Levia’s fate and watch her be devoured by the beast.
And then, I put the game down.
I was unable to pick it back up for over a week. I haven’t been this strongly affected by a game in quite a while, but this game managed to find a weak spot and struck me hard. Both the loss and the overbearing futility along with the game’s story—which at this point I was heavily invested in—seem to have left a substantial emotional scar.
I have since picked the game back up and have continued my futile quest to vanquish the devourer, Trillion, but I’m no longer in the game for fun. I’m in it for blood. And I must say, for what it’s done to me, Compile Heart has put together an excellent game.
Makaishin Trillion is not your standard kill-the-boss-hooray sort of game. It’s a struggle against an impossible foe that comes with emotional sacrifice. If you like very anime-style characters and you’re the empathic type who gets emotionally invested in the characters in your games, then you’ll probably have a similar experience that I had. Whether it’s a good one or not is up to you.
Makaishin Trillion is current available for the PS Vita in Japan and on the Japanese PlayStation Store. No word on an international release.
Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.
To contact the author of this post, write to cogitoergonihilATgmail.com or find him on Twitter @tnakamura8.