Karanum's Reviews: Trails in the Sky FC


Since this is my first post, I believe a quick introduction is in order. My name is Mark (also known as Karanum), a 20-year-old aspiring game developer. In contrast to most of the other posts you’ll find on here, I’ll mainly be writing about Japanese games. Now, please don’t jump to conclusions. As long as you aren’t all about FPS and open world games, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the gems you can find. That is, if you are willing to give them a chance…

I’m going to start off with an RPG that’s already several years old. It was first released in 2004 in Japanese on PC. Later it was ported to Playstation Portable, and in 2011 the PSP version was brought over to the west by XSeed, who will also release it on Steam this winter. Notorious for both its massive amount of text, as well as its diabolic ending, here is my personal favorite game…

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky FC

Trails in the Sky FC (First Chapter) is the sixth Legend of Heroes game, and the first of the Trails in the Sky trilogy. The game takes place in the kingdom of Liberl, a technologically advanced nation on the south-west tip of the Zemuria continent. Thanks to the use of ‘Orbments’, crafted from a mysterious mineral called ‘Septium’, the people in this world live in peace. Orbment-powered airships travel through the sky and Orbal lamps keep the monsters outside of the towns. Adventurers called Bracers accept all kinds of missions, from lost items to escorts and monster extermination, at the Bracer Guild branches found all across Zemuria.

The game follows the adventures of a teenage girl, Estelle Bright, and her adopted brother Joshua as they try to become full-fledged Bracers. However, things go wrong when their father, an elite Bracer, goes missing in an airship incident. In search of their missing father, they slowly unravel a much deeper plot involving foreign forces, divine artifacts and a whole lot of nastiness.

Trails starts off slow and laid-back, and this is what throws many people off. During the first portion of the game you’ll find yourself not doing a lot of story development at all. The characters, the world and the game mechanics are being shown at a leisurely pace, along with a large number of jokes and silliness. However, when you get through the first few hours, you’ll find that the story picks up at an incredible speed and also gets that much more interesting.

The music in the game is usually very cheerful, which fits the mood of the overall story. Most of the tracks are quite memorable. In fact, there are few tracks that don’t stand out. The downside of the audio department? The voice acting. While the Japanese voices were good, the English voices are somewhat disruptive and don’t really fit the image of the character most of the time. (Especially so for Joshua, in my opinion)

Trails being a 2004 game shows when you look at the graphics. It has very simplified character models which give the game its unique feel, but on many occasions animations have been left out which can be disruptive to some. Additionally, many of the game models in the PSP version are a little rough around the edges. The sprites used for character faces and the menus look a lot better in comparison. The problem of the jagged graphics is mostly solved in the upcoming Steam version though.

The battle system is a unique mix between your standard turn-based RPG and strategic RPGs, resulting in something that is original, but tires quickly when you go through numerous random monster encounters. Said encounters being easily avoided makes it a little better, but of course you don’t want to be underlevelled for that next boss battle. Speaking of boss battles, they usually love to bump up the difficulty, with some bosses being downright annoying. Luckily the most cruel battle can be lost without too much of a consequence. Other than that, I personally consider the boss battles to 
be the most interesting battles in the game.

The most impressive thing about this game, though, is that every NPC has its own backstory, personality, etc. Every little thing that advances the plot will change the dialogue of several NPCs. Overall you’ll spend about 30 hours on an average playthrough, which can easily become 40 to 50 if you want to see all there is to see. Falcom did one impressive job on creating the world and the story, and XSeed did one impressive job on translating all that text.

All things considered, a summary. Trails has a superb story complemented by the good music, although you’ll have to survive the voice acting somehow (or turn it off in the options). The graphics aren’t at all great unless you go for the Steam version later this year. Still, if you like story-driven RPGs, I’m sure you’ll find this game well worth its time and money.

Even if this didn’t convince you, I suggest watching some walkthrough videos and see for yourself why this game deserves a place next to the great names such as Final Fantasy and the likes in my book. If you like the game, please support XSeed by buying the game, physically or digitally, and give them an even greater incentive to localize the other games in the Trails series. They’re great people, too. Don’t be stingy!  ;)

Alright, thanks for reading this until the end. I know I’m not the best writer, but I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you have any advice or constructive criticism for this first-timer, then please let me know.

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