(REVIEW BASED ON THE ADVANCE PDF ONLY)
While this is easily affordable, I would have to say that I was really underwhelmed by this product, based on what, as a quick start, it aims to do.
Just a short caveat: I am not going to review the mechanics of the game, purely this product in the context of it being a quick start introduction to Trinity AEon.
You get only three pages of background (an introduction and two pages of glossary) to introduce the setting and then eleven pages covering a summary of the Storypath system. This rules light overview might be the highlight of the book (and arguably it is selling point for people who might be interested in dipping their toes in further). It is clearly written, and I think it would probably give an experienced GM enough to go on to run a test game using he system.
The rest of the booklet is the introductory scenario to use for this quick start and, frankly, it doesn't feel up to scratch. Avoiding spoilers, I can say that the Player Characters investigate a murder and the disappearance of some latent psions. All well and good so far and the pre-generated characters (another possible highlight, but more on that in a moment) are all given a reason to be interested in getting involved and solving the case. But this is where we hit a problem, given that this is meant to be an introduction to the setting and the system; All the PCs, as presented, are investigating the crimes for separate reasons and there is no consideration given or advice provided as to how they would come to work together, let alone if. It is just presumed that they all turn up at the scene of a crime and agree to work together. There's even a couple of characters at least who on the surface would be antagonistic to each other. There isn't anything wrong with a group of PCs who have friction, it creates great drama at the table, but that tends to work when there is a unifying rationale for them to stick together. Here you have five freelancers who for all intents and purposes could end up having five independent investigations. Yes, a GM could pull all this together and make it work but a) that's work for them b) it implies some setting knowledge as to how that might work, which as a quick start your target audience probably do not have and c) this is a quick start, it should be presenting an easy to run simple set up that teases me to want to know more. This could easily have been rectified by having the players be part of an AEon Trinity team, and that would help introduce one of the key organisations within the setting.
Back to the scenario itself. It isn't bad but it reads as confused and tonally not what I'd expect from a introduction to the setting. Let me elaborate. It's an investigation and as such there are people withholding details, others who aren't who they say they are and allegiances the players may not expect, however I don't feel that on first reading any of that is as transparent as it should be. First time storyguides need clarity and this product fails in that regard. This is sometimes a flaw of scenarios when the writer unveils the plot as they go, it would really be helped by a summary paragraph up front explaining the real goings on to the Storyguide and the villains' plot and goals. We are not readers of a novel, or the players who will be taking part, please in future lay out the plot up front to avoid confusion and create clarity.
Speaking of the supporting cast, while the main villain of the piece seems to have clear motives the rest of the cast are paper thin at best and come across simply as plot devices. Seeing as what the villain may do to them, based on player action, or inaction, that seems to be validated as an opinion. I find it hard to see players empathising for most of the supporting cast and their possible ultimate fate seems arbitrary and intended purely to shock.
There is one exception, but they are problematic for other reasons. The players may make an unlikely ally during the adventure and they are of a faction deeply rooted in the lore of the setting. It is a nice, and surprising, touch but one that seems ultimately misplaced. This is apparently intended as a quick start, why throw in something that needs a whole host of explanation that is not adequately provided in this product? Perhaps it is intended to lure the players and storyguide in to want to know more but with a setting as rich and complex as AEon I can't help but think that it could side-track the investigation and that same teasing effect could be achieved in a more effective way.
My fundamental issue with the adventure itself is one of tone. This feels like a scenario that was written for the grimmer, grittier and darker AEon Trinity of the '90s. Now that isn't to say that the current edition cannot be grounded in gritty stories, but it pushes optimism to the forefront. If I am going to introduce the setting to players (and prospective Storyguides) I want a product that showcases the core themes of the game. Investigative missions are a great idea for this but when it throws in mind control and body horror that seems much more suited to Onyx Path's World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness lines. As I have said earlier, this isn't bad it just feels like it fails to exemplify the main tone of the setting as presented in the main game book and as such becomes a bit of a misrepresentation when it could have been a showcase.
I also alluded earlier to issues with the pre-generated characters. For a start they seem unfinished (they are missing contacts and as many Edges as a regular new PC) but also none of the characters has any gear whatsoever. This might have been to simplify things but in a science-fiction setting technology is a key facet and contributor to the flavour. It is a crying shame that some of the key technological elements from AEon are completely ignored e.g. bioapps, minicomps and their agents. Also with the lack of gear players running through this scenario are going to have to rely heavily on Psi power use. While that puts the spotlight on their gifts it does present a skewed view of the game and its setting. For example, I have never seen a player of legionnaire character who didn't also pack a firearm (or three...), even if it was a non-lethal one. AEon is not a superhero game. It is a game about people who also have gifts and powers.
One positive about the cast of characters is that they are a diverse selection of nationalities, genders (kudos for the inclusion of a non-binary character) and cultures, however as mentioned above there is nothing unifying them. They wouldn't even need to be part of the same faction just some notes about how they know one or two of the other characters would really help the setup of the scenario, the cohesion of the group and add to the background of each of the cast.
In summary, for the price I don't regret buying this product, but it is likely that the only part of it that I will use are the pre-gen characters, after I've finished them off. Simply put, as presented this is just not what I would use to introduce new players to either the ruleset or setting, which is a huge shame.