By Henry Badilla / May 6th, 2017
|Title||The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd|
|Publisher||XSEED Games, Marvelous USA, Inc.|
|Release Date||May 3rd, 2017|
Lately, I feel like gamers take too many things for granted. When we see a new game announced for Japan we just assume it will be released in Europe and the US, and get mad when it doesn’t (which may lead to a certain campaign to release three famous RPGs). But many of us ignore all the work involved in translating a game. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (TitS for short) has to be one of the hardest series’ to fully translate, but as a gamer it fills me with such joy and happiness to see those credits roll at the end. Times were hard, and most of us thought TiTS the 3rd wouldn’t be released, but XSEED Games worked hard and it’s finally here, and it’s amazing!
Before we proceed with the rest of the review, be aware that this is the third and final installment of this series. Therefore places, characters and the plot of the previous games will be discussed. If you haven’t played the first game yet, go play it. It’s a great game, with easily the best character development and world building I have ever seen.
So, six months after the events involving the Liberl Ark, Father Kevin Graham has returned to his regular duty for the Septian Church, recovering ancient artifacts. His latest mission involves the artifact that fell from the Liberl Ark, which was recently recovered by the military. To his surprise, Ries Argent, an old acquaintance/childhood friend, has been assigned as his squire to aid with the mission. But as you might expect, after recovering the item a strange flash leaves them both unconscious, only to wake up in a strange place, where the normal laws of physics don’t apply. Now they have to look for a way out of this world filled with demons and creatures that they have never seen in Liberl, while figuring out the identity of their captor.
When developer Nihon Falcom started working on TitS they noticed that the plot was bigger than they anticipated, which led them to split the game in two: First Chapter and Second Chapter. Both games tell the story of Estelle and Joshua Bright, how they became Bracers, and eventually introduce us to the Society of Uroboros, and Joshua’s past. By the end of the second game, all these plot points have been covered, our heroes are reunited, their feelings exposed and we reach a happy ending. However TitS, unlike other RPGs, is not a stand-alone game. It is part of a bigger narrative of the Legend of Heroes series, which is why there are some points left unresolved to be used in future games.
The 3rd, while a direct sequel to the previous games, works more as a bridge to the series as a whole. As mentioned above we control Kevin this time, whom was first introduced in the Second Chapter, but by the end of it we didn’t really know much about him. The 3rd is Kevin’s story; how he became a knight of the church, what his motivations and fears are, and what makes him what he is. While Estelle was an upbeat character, which did make the first two games feel like a happy adventure most of the time, The 3rd goes deep into Kevin’s past, which is a lot darker than what we would expect from his personality.
Since we are no longer using a Bracer this time around, the flow of the game changes considerably as well. Forget about the Guild, getting paid after completing a quest, Bracer Points, all of that is gone. Unfortunately, so are towns and the whole “Exploring Liberl” thing. The 3rd shares some similarities with rogue-like games, there is a base were we can buy items, change party members, create new orbs and buy cooking ingredients. The world can be considered as a huge single dungeon that we have to reach the end of. It’s divided into several areas, called planes, which have different layouts. On each plane there are monoliths which we can use to restore health and buy items. There are no randomly generated maps, however.
But the selling point of TitS is the story. While Kevin’s story is explored as with any other RPG, through the dungeon and with conversations with other characters, for the other characters in the game there are “Memory Doors”. Basically, through the dungeons we will find these doors, which have certain requirements to be opened. Usually we just need to go with a certain member in our party or certain items. Once opened we will see a fragment of the story of the character in question. So don’t expect this game to lack story because, as with the previous two, there are plenty of character interactions and dialogue.
In regards to combat, everything that we know returns. Enemies will show up on the map. When we touch them, a transition will occur and we will begin combat on the usual grid, where we take turns to attack the enemies. The only additions to combat are that now enemies can have resistance or weakness to the Space, Mirage and Time elements, and there are some additional bonus effects during the turn, including Death.
While the game starts easy and simple, by the end it can be brutal. In TitS causing status-down effects to the opponents has been one of the strongest paths to victory, but as expected some of the latter bosses have immunity to everything, and are faster and stronger than you, which will put gamers to the test. Like many JRPGs, expect around 50 to 55 hours to complete the main story, more if you plan to go for the higher difficulties. Many known faces will return to assist us during our quest as party members, along with a couple of new characters. However, not only do old friends return, but a couple of old enemies make their return as well, a nice touch to the fans for sticking with the game this long.
Originally, TitS was released in Japan in 2004 for Windows, and so the graphics still reflect that. I’m not saying that the game looks bad. Quite the contrary, but it still feels like a PSone/PSP game. It’s something to consider if you are looking for a game with high quality graphics. On the sound department we have a bunch of previous songs making their return, but there are definitely a lot of new songs. With great use of keyboard and guitars the soundtrack is very mixed. The battle tunes go from hard rock to progressive rock, and then we have the quiet melancholic tunes to put us in the mood on those sad parts.
Trails in the Sky: The 3rd not only works as a great sequel, but it expands the series in a really unique way. It changes the formula of the game, adds more story, expands the world and gives us better closure to the story of each of its characters. This is a game about characters, and through these three games we have seen all of them grow, evolve and become a better version of themselves. By the time the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but smile. Few games manage to create a world that feels as alive as this one. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky will remain as the best example that the best world building comes with attention to details and good story telling. And this was an amazing story!
Review copy provided by the publisher.
JRPGLegend of Heroes Trails in the Sky the ThirdNihon FalcomSteamThe Legend of HeroesTrails in the Sky Third ChapterXSEED