Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review: Trinity

Welcome to class!
My character: Chellise Patson, level 8 human warlock
My score: 10 - A Masterpiece, Genuinely Groundbreaking

Lord Falconhand of Shadowdale has put out a call for help: a madman bent on putting all of the Dalelands underfoot is seeking untold power in Soloria, the great, abandoned school of wizardry.  You have been chosen, along with four others, to adventure to these lost ruins, put a stop to his ambitions, and secure any artifacts that you find for the greater good of the Dalelands.

So begins a fantastic adventure by E.C. Patterson.  Trinity is, in many ways, a shining example of what the NWN2 toolset can do.  It is a relatively short, but nevertheless extremely satisfying adventure that combines overland adventure and grand combat with a fascinating dungeon delve (or two!).  Throughout the adventure, Patterson combines spectacular visuals and music with excellent pacing to deliver gripping atmosphere. 

Dining hall.  Love the statue work in the background.
The heart of this module is the primary dungeon, which is designed as an abandoned school of wizardry.  It is flat out one of the best dungeons I've ever experienced.  As Tiberius has often said (and in some ways has been echoed by Benoit), the best dungeons have a story of their own.  They're about more than just a death trap for heroes.  They should have their own reason for being.  Abandoned public buildings, or in this case, a school, makes for a really interesting place to adventure.  As you explore, you encounter dining halls, classrooms, libraries, and more.  A real highlight was when one of the undead living there mistakes you for a student.

On top of all of this, the author gives you a lot of meaningful choices throughout the module.  Some of these involve providing different paths to a given destination.  This is done via some wonderful scripting, and sometimes these non-combat challenges are as scary and dangerous as the actual fighting.  In other cases, you get to make meaningful choices that not only can dramatically impact how you experience the module, but they can ultimately lead to very different outcomes to the story.  That several of these choices do not have black and white, "good" or "bad" (or even "lawful" vs. "chaotic") sides makes them all the more enjoyable.

(minor spoiler) Fantastic bit of flavor with the rogue
character as he looks through the abandoned
wine collection
The companions also deserve a mention.  They are each distinctive, and in some ways all of them are both likable and detestable.  With the possible exception of the cleric (who might have been a bit underdeveloped), I really enjoyed that each had his or her own motivation for going on this adventure, all of which play prominently in in the module by the end.  I also liked that, mechanically, none were really outstanding characters.  The fighter for example, brings a 15 natural strength into the module.  This can be boosted by items and leveling, but she's definitely not going to mow down enemies for you--you'll need to provide support.

The combat was fun, and you as the player have a lot of control in how challenging it was.  I opted to play through most of it in "Normal" mode, which allowed for unlimited rest and (of course) no friendly fire on spells.  This didn't make the encounters cake-walks, exactly, but I am sure that it did make them dramatically easier.  I ended up resting 7 times, which I'd guess is more than twice as often as I would have.  Furthermore, I brought an 8th level warlock into the game with me, which was definitely at the high end of what is suggested.  That said, while she was an asset, especially against individual monsters, she did not feel massively overpowered.  Despite all of that, I still had characters knocked unconscious during the game, and combat was exciting enough to get me perked up in my seat on multiple occasions.

Beautifully rendered outdoor environments
Overall, this is a really outstanding module.  It's really a shining example of a beautifully crafted dungeon delve.  It doesn't try to do too much or be too much.  Instead, it focuses on telling a good story and providing an interesting environment in which characters can adventure.  In a lot of ways, if I were to try to write a real NWN2 module, this is exactly the type of module that I would hope to be able to create (and no doubt would fall far short of).  So for that, I'm giving it full marks: 10/10 - A Masterpiece, Genuinely Groundbreaking.

More screenies after the jump...

A bridge that plays prominently in one of the sidequests

Rather gruesome

(spoiler!)  One of the neater non-combat challenges in the game involved
this floating bridge.

A laboratory.


  1. Hi Berliad,

    Reading your review gave me goosebumps and a smile from ear to ear.

    All I can say is this: you "got it", all of it, down to the smallest detail, cracks included.

    There is great joy in finding one's vision shared and efforts recognized, all the more from someone whom we esteem.

    Incidentally, your writing is as limpid as ever, a pleasure to read for style alone.

    All the best,


  2. Thanks EC, both for the kind words and (especially) the terrific module!