Follow up to the greatest Story never told (Outside of Japan at least)
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is the follow up to The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero which saw just a release late last year outside of Japan and follows the story of Lloyd Bannings in the second and final part of the Crossbell arc. The Trails series at this point is a pretty big deal with it feeling like a new game is coming out with another one seemingly just around the corner and with so much of the Story and the games out it can feel quite daunting to start them.
As always Trails to Azure is here and can provide some backstory to previous events but it is highly recommended that you have beat Trails from Zero, after all this is a direct follow up and ties loose ends of a continuous narrative. It’s not crucial to have played the Trails in the Sky series nor the Cold Steel series but it does help in adding context to certain scenes but as the Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure games are of the same arc it is highly recommended to play them in order. I also highly recommend playing them also just as they are fantastic in their own right.
Trails to Azure takes place sometime after Trails from Zero and the SSS is still in full force. The leader of the SSS, Lloyd Bannings is instantly thrust into action with the game opening on a high. As you start to realize Trails to Azure is more of what Trails from Zero provided. Once again the bustling City of Crossbell remains a large hub where most of your time will be spent, this will of course include completing a variety of tasks such as menial deliveries to fighting large monsters that terrorize the public. This is again mostly done from the headquarters computer, some mandatory to the Story itself but a lot of optional requests also and as always Trails to Azure is a game built on worldbuilding so it’s entirely possible requests can be hidden behind talking to many of the residents that occupy the City.
Trails to Azure again is a game that progresses through it’s man story but it is not it’s main focus, many NPC’s in the world will have something interesting to say and many if not all of them have optional dialogue after having already conversed with them, their dialogue will also change just after minor and major events in the game. This makes the Trails series one of the most thorough RPG’s out there, if you really want to just focus on it’s main story that is fine, the High-Speed mode once again is there if you wish to zip right through it but if you want to take your time, you can, there’s enough Characters, NPC’s, Bookshelves and Lore to be read here if you really want to delve deep into the Trails universe, either way the game is again huge much like the other games in the series. Characters once again will trip over their own remarks as usual, this is down to their conflicting personalities with each other, it is something veterans of the series will always expect but still it’s always great to see. Trails to Azure will reward the most prestigious of players again with points that will allow your detective rank to level up. This will reward the most sought after Items so they are usually worth doing.
Graphically Trails to Azure is no different to Trails from Zero, this is down to the games themselves being PSP remasters, just on a modern console. As far as remasters go however, the game itself is done really well. The art style is something I really appreciate and if you enjoyed it from Trails from Zero you can just expect more of the same. More of the same is a common theme with Trails to Azure with almost all of the games features carrying over from Trails from Zero such as Cooking and Fishing.
Enemies can still be seen on the map and are initiated by running into them or attacking them from behind and getting the advantage on them, the same Grid like battle system also returns with battles having a new feature but for the most part remaining unchanged. Using powerful unique moves by hitting the 100 CP skill mark. The Burst mechanic is it’s newest feature that allows characters to get one over on the enemies, by filling a gauge you can use Bursts to get rid of annoying Status effects that the party while cancelling enemy arts. This is a welcome change as I find one annoying trait with the Trails series is not enough turns to heal those pesky annoyances whilst trying to keep your party alive during a difficult fight.
Master Quartz are another feature that was introduced into Trails to Azure and if you have played the Trails of Cold Steel games you will already be familiar with their feature. They essentially are a giant Quartz limited to one per character and offer stat bonuses on being levelled. By levelling it up to level 5 allows the equipped character to use a Master Arts.
There are plenty of other little nods to Trails from Zero. Treasure chests that have been opened already will offer once again a quip or hilariously thought out remark usually to do with the surrounding area or situation, again a nice nod and a real testament to the worldbuilding that the Trails series continues to deliver on.
While Trails to Azure is a sequel it doesn’t really offer anything new to anyone coming in from Trails from Zero, the game is more like a direct sequel rather than bringing game changing new features or anything extensive to the table. If you come into the game with the mindset of wanting to know what happens and are just in it for the Story, then great, Trails to Azure delivers on that and then some. The music is once again fantastic but given that Nihon Falcom never misses it’s mark in that department, it was never a worry going into the game. A lot of what I enjoy from Trails from Zero is here again and while I knew what to expect with any new Trails game, the focus of going into it once again knowing I will enjoy a full and engaging story is an experience, one that I can share sentiment with many other players.
A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by NIS America