Trails In The Sky is the first entry in the ever growing Trails series. It was developed by Nihon Falcom in June 2004 for PC in Japan only. It saw its first western release in March of 2011, when XSEED Games published it to the PSP.
In the nation of Liberl, peace reigns, and people are happy. The last time war was declared was 10 years ago. It was known as The Hundred Day War. Since then, the guild, known as Bracers, have helped the army keep the peace. Estelle and Joshua want to follow in their fathers footsteps and join the Bracers, to help everyone in the region. Too bad that in their journey, they uncover quite a sinister plot.
The story in this game was magnificent. From the characters, to the high points, to even some of the witty banter that happens throughout. The game is split up into 5 chapters. One per area of the region basically. The story is a very slow burn. It wasn’t until about the 10 hour mark that it shifted into high gear. But even then it barely kept the pace. It was like a roller coaster. Every chapter had its high point, but then it dipped back down. Sure you’re enjoying the ride still, but what you wanna be doing is yelling and screaming and having a ball.
Throughout the journey, the game has quite a few storylines running alongside each other. From Estelle and Joshua going across the land to be able to become Senior Bracers, to them trying to find their father, to the storyline of the villain and all of his motives and what he’s doing. Which in the long run is just the silliest reason. Obviously I won’t spoil it, but I would’ve loved to smack him upside the head myself. It is a lot to keep up with, and I’m surprised each story is still fleshed out enough that there’s no real loose ends by the time the credits roll!
The characters and their supporting cast are a delight to be in the company of. You have Estelle, your basic femme fatale. Joshua, the strong boy who has a dark and mysterious past, that no one knows. Olivier, the foreign playboy. But one of my favourites was Zin, the big old lovable bear! He’s not actually a bear though. Of course there are a ton of other characters throughout the game, but of the many, these 4 were my favourite. Though I wish some things were more detailed. Like what Olivier does for a living. It never goes into detail, but at a few points, he seems like he can’t be trusted. Why? Well who knows! You learn more about Zin, who doesn’t become a mainstay until near the end of the game. Whereas Olivier is part of the crew pretty early on. But I guess with a game so expansive, you can’t flesh everyone out in the first entry. But for a first entry that came out 18 years ago to start the entire series, the story holds up very well in all honesty!
The gameplay is kind of like a tactical RPG when you’re in battle. You can move your characters around the field if you’d like, or you can get in closer for melee, or use your magic spells! Provided you have what’s required for them. When you beat enemies in battle, instead of getting money and experience points, you get experience points and quartz shards. You then use a certain amount of these shards to make a full quartz of the determining element, and put it on your characters to unlock spells. This was an interesting take, as I was always messing with every character I had to make them exactly who I wanted them to be. Of course everyone had the ability to heal though, because that’s just playing smart.
The game has an option for lowering the difficulty in a sense too. If you find yourself in a tough battle, and keep dying over and over, the game makes the battle easier every time you hit the “restart” button. I kept this option turned on, and there were a few times where it actually helped out. Like in the final dungeon when I was getting the ultimate weapons for everyone. Or on side quests that had me battling a giant group of enemies. Side Quests are actually important in this game too, as they are your only way of making good money! You never had to go too out of your way for them, but the few times I did, there was even meaningful dialogue behind them. Heck if you were to talk to everyone in a town after each story segment, they’d all even have new dialogue about the new events that had happened in the world. It was amazing to see. You’d better get used to seeing so much dialogue though, because this game has a lot. A few times, there were hour-long portions of nothing but dialogue.
Though that never bothered me, it may be tough for some people who find themselves getting anxious when there’s so much dialogue going. To the point they turn to their phones or just plain forget the basis of the conversation. Between dialogue and battles though, you are exploring the world. That means dungeons! Though the game doesn’t have much variety in the way of dungeons, it was still fun to sift through these. From the towers that you go through that may hold ancient powers, to the mountain side base of the dastardly Sky Bandits! My favourite part of the dungeons honestly were the characters commenting on monsters roaming around a group of some bad guys base. It’s something I’ve always pondered in RPGs and the game even gives in to my ever lingering question.
- Great Start To A Large Series
- The “Replay” Battle Option
- Amazing Cast Of Characters
- Small Amount Of Dungeons
- Large Amounts Of Dialogue (May Be A Negative For Some)
- Slow Burn
If anyone wants to jump into the large Legend Of Heroes series, I highly recommend starting with this entry. It’s fun, it’s silly, and it’s amazing. Even if it is a slow burn! I can’t wait to play the second chapter in the Skies trilogy!
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