Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky marks the first game of a big expansive series of games. I was recommended the series more than once, especially the third part of it: A quadrilogy called "Trails of Cold Steel." More than one reviewer recommended starting from the beginning, the first game of the Trials in the Sky series to get fully introduced to the world. So here I'm doing that.
At the time of this writing, I just started the final chapter of this game, and I have only praise for its characters and pacing. This particular title is meant to introduce the world & characters, and it fulfills both roles perfectly.
NOTE: I did reach the ending before publishing this article, and it changed my whole perspective on Trails in the Sky. This article covers my old perspective based only on things happening by early Ch.4 of the game.
The main characters are Estelle and her adopted brother Joshua. They share the protagonist role, but throughout the game, (most noticeably when they're separated,) Estelle is the one the player controls. I think it was a great choice to let the main point-of-view protagonist be female, I wouldn't have minded it either way since both Estelle and Joshua are both great characters.
My theory is that Joshua will be the point-of-view protagonist in the Second Chapter of the series. I don't have evidence for this, but I felt it would make the series more complete if it was the case.
The supporting cast is equally good. Any and Every character with a portrait is memorable, but the party members are the best of them. The story follows Estelle and Joshua's journey across the country to become Senior Bracers, and so they need to leave their friends with a promise to meet again in the future.
Estelle and Joshua's companions rotate as they move from one place to the next. My favorites are the second chapter's Kloe and the third chapter's Agate.
Kloe always seems to have a bigger purpose, and she emits an elegant aura. Every line of hers makes me happy. On the other hand, Agate is a perfect representation of the potential of Estelle and Joshua as bracers. Oliver makes me laugh as much as he annoys me.
Most of the party members in this game are more experienced than the main characters, I'd say only Tita, the youngest party member is less experienced than Estelle and Joshua, but even she is a genius.
Story, on the other hand, I have mixed feelings about. It's predictable in a strange way. I didn't expect many of the surprises along the way, but I felt the story could've been "less cliche." For example, one plot point had the governor of a city be secretly evil, and destroy the property of people unrelated to him just to get them to depend on his generosity while blaming all the atrocities on the city's thugs. That part I felt was too forced...
I will say that this story used the clichés very well, which is good in my opinion. The part I mentioned above in a bad light was used to reveal one of the significant mysteries in this world in a way that felt completely natural, and I don't think it would've been as effective if the governer wasn't as cliched self-centered villain.
I love how the stakes are handled. Unusual for RPGs there are no world-class stakes in this game, but the stakes are still big. It starts simple but later evolves into a political intrigue of a whole kingdom. The character-based stakes are impacting as well. I still need to know who Agate sister is!!
I didn't go out of my way to finish side-quests. I managed to finish about half of Bracer Guild missions by the end of chapter 3, but I don't know how many non-guild-related quests I've missed. The quests system in the game isn't only visually appealing, but it also gives a direction to everything in the game because everything is related.
I loved the battle system of this game. It looks like a normal turn-based system, but the placement of characters on the field is important and affects how skills are used, (kinda like Chrono Trigger,) and the turn order can be manipulated (kinda like FFX.) I didn't need to understand the system fully to win bosses, but the more I played, the more I appreciated how the systems play on each other.
What do you think?
My opinion on this game so far, is that it's good and deserves its reputation. It's full of cliches but uses them effectively to show what's good about its characters. Estelle and Joshua are both amazing, and the supporting cast is equally good.
Now, as I finished writing this article, I also finished the game, but as the ending has changed some of my opinions, I'll leave my old ones above and talk about the rest in another time.
(SPOILER: I NEVER EXPECTED THAT LAST SCENE OF THE GAME!)
- All the images are screenshots of the game, taken by me.
- This review is cross-posted here on Hive and also on Readcash with different screenshots.