Name: The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
Release Date (WW): July 29th, 2014
Platform: PC
Score: 85
Beat: July 12th, 2019
Written: May 24th - June 23rd, 2021

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (英雄伝説 空の軌跡, Eiyuu Densetsu Sora no Kiseki) is the the first Trails game in the Legend of Heroes subseries of Dragon Slayer. Building on much of the ideas and gameplay explored in the Gagharv Trilogy before it, Trails aimed to tell one interconnected, massive narrative. Trails in the Sky follows Junior Bracers Estelle and Joshua Bright as they journey aroun the Kingdom of Liberl to accomplish the fairly innocent goal of becoming Senior Bracers. By the way, a Bracer is basically a person in the employ of the Bracer Guild, which aim to help and protect the people first and foremost. Despite this very noble goal, they are not welcome in all parts of Zemuria, the continent of which Liberl is situated in the south east. Little do they know, they become embroiled in a plot to overthrow the Queen and learn dark secrets about their country, and those they held dear. Coming from Gagharv, the real-time combat is discarded for turn-based combat, with a visible turn order not unlike Final Fantasy X, Xenosaga, or the PSP versions of the Persona 2 duology. Unlike the just mentioned games however, characters in the battle move in a grid on the battle field, sort of like a turn based strategy game. Each attack has a particular range and arts (think magic generated by technology) are attributed to a certain element and therefore are more or less effective against certain monsters. As mentioned, the stories of Trails games are more interconnected than the Gagharv trilogy, and there is a lot of information dropped in games that might not be relevant for a long time. A good example of this is the content of some of the doors in Sky the 3rd, but we'll get there when we get there. At the moment, there are 11 mainline Trails games, Trails in the Sky, Sky SC, Sky the 3rd (Sky trilogy/Liberl Arc,) Zero no Kiseki, Ao no Kiseki (Crossbell Arc, no official localization, but the Geofront English patches are available), Trails of Cold Steel, Cold Steel II, Cold Steel III, Cold Steel IV (Erebonia Arc,) Hajimari no Kiseki (unlocalized, but should be announced soon??,) and Kuro no Kiseki, which is in development currently. As you can see, this is the first Trails game. It sets expectations for later games and also is a bit rough. Namely, the combat sucks. Sorry, I don't think the combat was remotely fun until the 3rd. It's a little hard to pinpoint why, but that's how I feel about it.

As briefly discussed above, the plot of the game starts out pretty small, then snowballs into something quite large. Nothing super exciting happens until the end of the game, which can make the game a bit tough for people to go through. It certainly was for me, I started the prologue 3 or 4 separate occasions and it wasn't until 2019 really that I finally played through the game. By far the most interesting thing that happens is at the very end of the game, after the final boss. The last couple scenes before the credits basically set up SC, which is where the most of the meat of the Liberl Arc is. I won't say too much, but it was rather interesting. It was pretty cool having Cassius rush in and help out with the final boss - letting Estelle and friends land the final blow (if you have enough BP.) Even though the plot doesn't really start until the end of the game, that's not to say that the rest of the game is meaningless. It does tons of worldbuilding, establishing what the various regions of Liberl are like, character relationships, introducing certain groups and characters that play larger roles down the trail (haha), all accompanied by a nice soundtrack.

The gameplay. I. Do. Not. Like. It. Something about it just feels awful to me. Maybe it's the slow animations? The uselessness of physical attacks and crafts? I dunno. All I can say is, thank XSEED for the fast forward button. I'm not exaggerating when I say I would not have not finished Sky without it. It's turn based like your typical JRPG, but characters can move around on a grid and each attack has a range and an area of effect, if applicable. But it kinda sucks. I'm not really sure why, but the first time Trails combat is fun was Sky the 3rd. Maybe it's partially because I like Kevin and Ries more as protagonists than Estelle and Joshua.

The story is where Sky FC is actually good, provided you don't mind a more hands off approach. 90% of the game is spent showing Liberl, and to an extent, Zemuria as a a whole, to the player and the protagonists. Yes, all this world building is necessary for when you backtrack through Liberl two more times in SC, plus it makes the world feel alive, meeting all these people, learing their stories and optionally following them throughout the games. I tended to only talk to NPCs I cared about as going and talking to every single one after a story event would be majorly exhausting. Actually, throughout most of the game, hints are dropped regarding the actual plot of the game which starts to reveal itself pretty late into the game. Things escalate and escalate, but the brave Bracer Estelle Bright and her adoptive brother Joshua never give up. Finally, once all has settled down, celebrations occur and Joshua has something he needs to confess to Estelle. Turns out, things were not all as they seemed and someone who had seemed to be an ally was actually the mastermind behind this game and its sequel, revealing their presence to Estelle before wiping her memory of their encounter. Cue Sky SC.

I first played FC in 2014ish on my iPod touch via a PSP emulator. It didn't work well. Around a year later I got the PC version on Steam and started playing the game for real. I didn't get very far. I never finished the prologue. Fast forward to Summer 2016. I got my PS3 and Trails of Cold Steel. I totally forgot that I didn't really enjoy the Trails combat that much. Turns out Cold Steel just really clicked with me and I sped through the game. I specifically remember messing around in the Nord Highlands while my Dad had a bunch of people over once. Anyway, I finished CS1, got CS2 when that released, won Sky SC at some point, tried playing Sky FC, then fast forward to Summer 2019. I finally played and finished Sky FC. Then I started Sky SC. And didn't finish it until the very start of 2021. Then I blitzed through the 3rd, and Zero. And now I'm very very slowly getting through Azure. What will the 40th Anniversary Stream bring? Excitement? Disappointment? Also, this review kinda sucks, so I might expand it later.

-Hat Kid

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