The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky takes a while to get going. But once it does, you’ll lose yourself in the story. All it requires is your patience.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is a turn-based RPG set in a world where technology revolves around orbments. Orbs that contain powers capable of a wide range of abilities.
The player takes control of Joshua and Estelle, two newly appointed Bracers. Bracers assist the general public in a wide variety of ways. But they can never get involved in politics as that is left to the armies. Of course, it wouldn’t be a great story if that didn’t happen.
Travelling Far and Wide
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: Nihon Falcom
Review Version: PSP
Release Date: 2011
Trails in the Sky are divided into multiple chapters. Each chapter focuses on a different locale and a main quest. Upon starting a new chapter, you visit the local Bracer Guild and register for that location. From that point on, you can explore the area. Fight monsters. And complete side-quests to earn Mira (Money), BP (Bracer Points) and potentially new gear.
Each town/city has various shops that sell either equipment, ingredients, or a room to rest in. Each area also has an Orbal factory which can be used to set up your Orbments.
Each locale does feel significantly different from the other areas. Rolent, the starter town, feels very small and quiet. But Grancel is a huge city with many more amenities than Rolent. The only downside is that the environments feel very similar. It would have made a nice change if there was a desert or snowy location to spice things up. But this is only a small complaint.
The Grand Story
I’ve tried to play this game multiple times. The first time I lost the save through no fault of the game (my Vita decided to brick) and the second time I felt the story was progressing far too slow. But as they say third time’s a charm. Once I pushed through the story, I became more interested in Estelle and Joshua.
Estelle is the daughter of Cassius Bright, a world renowned Bracer who also has some secrets that he keeps from Estelle. Joshua, is the dark and mysterious one. But unlike the typical Sasuke type character, he does show a lot of humour and is far more likeable. Unlike Estelle, Cassius adopted Joshua for reasons unknown. His past is a mystery, even to himself.
Throughout each chapter, you meet a vibrant cast of characters. Some of which join your party to help complete the main quest. They each have their own motivations and skill set. But each one feels completely unique and has an interesting backstory. Unlike traditional RPGs however, these characters don’t stay with your party. They leave at the end of each chapter. So that you can meet new characters who can then join your team. This is a great feature since you, as the player, don’t have to manage inactive party members. They will level up on their own and towards the end of the game, you can recruit them again..
If you like the sound of this game, you can purchase it from HRK Games
What I love about each chapter is that they could each be self contained. They don’t rely too much on each other. But as you progress the story, you suspect a greater over arching plot. I won’t spoil it but it was well worth the wait.
You suspect a greater over-arching plot.
It took me 40 hours to complete the game. I only spent an hour at most grinding levels to make my characters stronger. And that was only for the final chapter of the game. Again, I don’t want to spoil the story, but the ending really hits. I was stunned by it, and I tried to start the sequel straight away. But I felt mentally exhausted from the shock.
Usually in a turn based RPG. I look forward to the battles. While Trails in the Sky has a great turn based system. I really did feel like it hampered the game. You view the battlefield in an isometric view. It has tiles which your characters or the enemies can move across to perform their attacks.
When it was one of your character’s turn, you have a few options: Attack, Arts, Craft, Move, Items and Run. Arts is the magic system in Trails in the Sky. To access more arts, you use the Orbal system. Crafts are special abilities each character has.
When a party member is attacked or attacks an enemy, they receive CP (Craft Points) that can be spent to use Craft moves. CP also has another feature. If you reach 100 CP you can then use that party member’s S-break, a strong move not dissimilar to Final Fantasy X’s Overdrive attacks.
The Move action allows you to move across the battlefield. This was rarely used until late game to move out the way of attacks or self-destructs.
Finally, the last two actions, Item allows you to use items, and Run allows you to run from most battles unless it’s an important battle.
The battling wasn’t bad, but I wish they did away with the movement system. The Orbment system was interesting and would love to see what happens in the next game in the series. It certainly the one area of the game that needs improvement even if it is simplified.
But How Does it Feel?
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky plays in an isometric view. The environments are rendered in a mix of 2D and 3D. However, you can quite clearly see the seams between each face of an object which makes it ugly. But each area doesn’t feel too much like a copy and paste tileset. The characters themselves are rendered in 2D. When the camera rotates, a different sprite of the character is displayed. While this is quite charming. I would have liked more detail put into the characters.
The soundtrack is what you can expect from a Japanese RPG. Epic and really helps the player immerse into what is happening. The final dungeon really shines in that respect. Especially since it is such a long dungeon, having an epic musical score makes it far more playable. The music is somewhat dynamic. Should a party member’s health go below a certain point, the music changes to dramatic soundtrack. Which helps to put more pressure on the player.
Trails in the Sky Verdict
Trails in the Sky starts slowly. But ramps up the closer you get to the end. Rewarding patient players. The battles are okay, adding flavor to the turn-based mix. But by simplifying the battle system would have resulted in an enjoyable experience. The real draw of Trails in the Sky is its characters and the story. The player feels invested in the story and also the two protagonists.
Trails in the Sky deserve a 4 out of 5. It would be a lot lower, if there was more grinding involved. The less time spent in combat, the better.
A Quick Trails in the Sky Review in 2023 - Gamesmix
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky takes a while to get going. But once it does, you'll lose yourself in the story.
- Engaging story
- Lovable characters
- Takes a while to get interesting
- Combat needs improvement