The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

Falcom and Xseed deliver another stellar RPG for the PSP.
John Fox - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Violence: Characters use guns,swords and magic like attacks against human and non-human enemies. A little blood.

Language: Mild-moderate foul language used throughout.

Spiritual Content: Trails universe has its own god, characters use magic-like technology.

Sexual Content: Some sexual references, some females are inappropriately dressed.

Other: Some adults drunk or smoke.

When most gamers think of The Legend of Heroes series they think of the PSP games from the early days of the system. Localized by Namco-Bandai, these were mediocre ports of old PC games and had some of the worst translations in recent memory. Needless to say they were generally disliked by critics. But never fear, for this is an all new game created by Falcom, creator of the Ys series, and is localized by Xseed. This winning combination has turned out one of the best Japanese RPGs of the year.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky stars two young people, Estelle Bright daughter of a famous Bracer (basically a more organized and officially recognized adventurer guild) and her adopted brother Joshua Bright, a young man with a mysterious past. The two set off on an adventure to become full fledged Bracers as well as find out about the disappearance of their father. Eventually they get entangled in a web of conspiracies and politics that threatens their nation. Lucky for new players this first chapter in the trilogy does not tie into the other Legend of Heroes games.

Like most JRPGs the player gathers a party of interesting characters and travels around doing quests, seeking treasure and “leveling up”, that is to say improving their party. Trails in the Sky uses the quartz system for character customization, which is a bit like Final Fantasy VII’s materia system. Quartz are items that can be found or bought and each quartz raises a character’s status. Equipping them in a specific order grants them special spell-like Orbal Quartz attacks. The characters also each have their own unique “Crafts”, physical skills as well as Limit Break like super attacks known as S-Breaks. The graphics are mostly 2D sprites with 3D backgrounds, and the enemies are displayed on the map, instead of like other RPGs that randomly throw you into a battle without warning.

Battles are turned based with each character and monster takings turns to act. The battlefield is a grid-like area, similar to that found in strategy RPGs. Player characters will have to move into range to preform attacks, but this is done automatically by the game’s system. The grid is usually invisible to the player, unless they choose to move a character to a specific spot. Character positioning also effects the targets of area of effect abilities, like healing abilities and some Crafts.

One thing the game is notable for is the large amount of dialog it has. The various event scenes tend to be fairly lengthy, but thankfully they are very well written. While at first glance the characters seem like they fit into various Anime clichés, each character is very fleshed out and has many layers to their personality. The characters also tend to discuss their actions and actually logically think through their plans. Whenever have you had that happen in an RPG? Music, sound and voice acting are just average, which is sad as Falcom is know for its excellent music.

Violence:

Various swords, guns and magic-like Orbal Quartz attacks are used to attack both human and monstrous enemies. Besides a few attacks from bosses, they are bloodless.

Sexual Content:

A few characters wear revealing clothing, most notably Scherazard’s character picture. One flamboyant party member Oliver hits on Joshua (whom he is about ten years older) when they first meet, much to Joshua’s displeasure. Thankfully this is soon (more or less) dropped. The game does hint that much of Oliver’s personality may be an act, though it never says for sure if he is bisexual or not. Actually he turned out to be one of my favorite characters because of his wackiness.

The player will also run into some suggestive dialog every so often. For instance, one time the players are staying at the royal academy, and when they leave Joshua’s roommate jokes about how it’s going to be lonely in bed without him (Joshua tells him to stop with the crude and childish comments). Another example is when Oliver asks Scherazard if she would like to engage in “pillow talk”, but nothing comes of it.

The charters also cross-dress for a play and to sneak into a castle. These instances are meant for humor and are not sexual in nature.

*SPOILERS*


Throughout the game Estelle and Joshua (whom has been her adopted brother for about the past 5 years) develop a romantic love for one another. Though they are not related to each other by blood or marriage, I still felt this to be a little bit weird . Besides a very memorable kiss at the very end of the game (because of the plot implications), nothing really comes of it, but this will sure be developed further in the next game.

*END SPOILERS

Spiritual Content:

The Trails world has their own god and churches the player will visit, but it really does not have much part in the story. The Orbal Quartz attacks are technically technological in nature, but mimic the spells of other RPGs.

Language:

D*mn, h*ll, a*s, b*stard and c*ap are used throughout. A little bit past the second half of the game swearing gets a bit more common and s*it and godd*mnit are used about five times each. Also one character’s sometimes remarks “d*mn” through voice-over in battle when hit by an attack.

Other:

Most of the adult characters drink alcohol at one point or another, but the teenage ones refuse when offered. One party member drinks out of a gourd in his battle victory animation (presumably alcoholic  in nature).  One running joke is Scherazard’s ability to drink large amounts of alcohol without passing out, “booze sponge”, and she sometimes challenges party members to drinking contests. When she drinks too much she usually acts drunk and does crazy things like threatens to take her cloths off (which does not happen) or hits on Estelle. Drugs are also briefly mentioned “Now I don’t know what kind of drugs you’re smoking…“  and one non-playable character smokes a cigarette.

Just considering the gameplay and story Trails in the Sky one of the best JRPG of 2011. Besides the offensive content the only downfall of this game is the fact that it is only the first part of a trilogy. Though the story arc of the first game is resolved, the game still has a cliffhanger ending. Xseed is working on translating the second chapter at the time of writing, though due to them being a small company and the fact that the script is two times the size of the first things are gong slow. Nevertheless for those who can handle a lot of dialog and the content the game is one of the best JRPGs on the PSP.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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