Title The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak
Developer Nihon Falcom Corporation
Publisher NIS America, Inc.
Release Date July 5th, 2024
Genre RPG
Platform Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, PC (Steam, EGS, GOG)
Age Rating ESRB – T for Teen
Official Website

When one trail ends, another begins. The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak starts a brand new arc in the long-running Trails series, leaving behind the familiar territories of the Erebonian Empire and Crossbell State. This time around, the story takes place in the Republic of Calvard, one of the two Zemuria superpowers and a country which was previously mentioned in past games. With a fresh cast of characters and a new hybrid turn-based/action battle system, Trails through Daybreak leaves a comfort zone established in the Erebonia arc, the Cold Steel games.  From Rean to Van, was this new hero, cast of characters, and setting able to captivate me like the games that came before? Did the gamble with this new hybrid combat system pay off? Did Trails through Daybreak start the Calvard arc off with a bang, or did it fall short of expectations?

Trails through Daybreak | Agnes and Van

In the seedy underbelly of Edith, Calvard’s capital, a deal between two parties goes awry and a suitcase goes missing. Van Arkride is a spriggan, a fixer that takes on jobs that clients can’t bring to the police or the Bracer Guild. One morning, Agnès Claudel, an Aramis Academy student, knocks on the door of Arkride Solutions with a job for Van. She needs help in recovering a memento of her great-grandfather. Van accepts her request and after some conflict and tragedy, is able to recover the item Agnes was looking for. However, during the course of this request, Van unlocks a mysterious power and has a run-in with a sinister mafia group, Armata. He also learns that there are seven more items similar to the one Agnes recovered, collectively known as Geneses. With this new information, Van reluctantly takes Agnes under his wing, and searches for the remaining Geneses to prevent an ominous future predicted by Agnes’ great-grandfather.

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The story of Trails through Daybreak is mostly well done and I very much enjoyed it. It has that good mix of political intrigue, matters dealing in organized crime, fantastical elements, and enough mystery in the ongoing events to keep players guessing. The game also does not shy away from more mature and dark elements like racial discrimination, murder, drug dealing, and crimes against humanity. Mix in villains that have no redeemable features whatsoever, and you have one hell of a story. Honestly, I was shocked at the lengths Almata went to in their schemes. They make Heiyue and Ouroboros look like saints. 

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In past games, you always had the POV of a bonafide hero. Whether it be Estelle, Lloyd, or Rean, you were almost always on the right side of the law, you did the right thing and the public looked favorably on you and the characters’ way of life. The same can’t be said of Van. Being a spriggan, Van tends to work in a gray area, and he is open to working with groups of ill repute such as jaegers and Ouroboros. Because of this, he tends to butt heads with more just groups, like the police and the Bracer Guild. He’s not outright enemies with them, but they are wary of him. Unlike past main characters, Van is also an adult right from the get go. He’s like a seasoned veteran at this point, so he has the ability to make more rational decisions. Combine that with his profession, and Van has more ways to fulfill requests, since he isn’t bound by the law or any type of code. Spriggan requests are known as 4SPGs, and at major turning points of these requests, Van is sometimes offered two or three options. Each option can represent one of three alignments: Law, Gray, and Chaos. Van’s affinity with a certain alignment will increase significantly based on the choice made, and this is reflected in the LGC meter. Each alignment can be leveled up to a max of 5, and the level of each alignment opens more options for Van to take in the main story. The choices Van makes in side 4SPGs can significantly affect its outcome, which I found to be a nice touch. I dislike choices that don’t matter, so I appreciate how this was implemented. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the main story, as it was clear that some choices I made at major points didn’t really matter. I actually got a bit confused at how a certain late game event panned out because I felt it didn’t make sense based on a previous choice I made. Despite this, overall, I really enjoyed the game’s main story. There were some unanswered mysteries regarding the Geneses and Van’s AI partner, Mare, but I’m hoping more light is shed upon these in the sequel.

As many may know, Trails through Daybreak is the eleventh mainline title in the Trails franchise. This may scare off newcomers from starting the series, especially this late in the timeline. I’m here to assuage those fears. Despite being the latest game available for overseas players, I felt the story, overall, was very welcoming to newcomers. You could very much enjoy the game’s story without prior knowledge of the series. At most, there may be some past events referenced, but others will eventually give a short explanation on what that event was so you won’t feel lost. Characters from past games will also make an appearance, but you don’t need to know about their past experiences to understand their role in the current story. If you want to read a little about what occurred in past games, there’s an Archive section in the pause menu. Here, you can read backgrounds on each of the past games, but they don’t give you any huge spoilers, so if you still wanted to play any of those games after reading, you could still do that without feeling like you ruined the surprise for yourself. There’s also a nifty glossary available in the Archives section where newcomers can read up on terms needed to help understand the game’s story that much more. I think they did as much as possible to be welcoming to new players, and I definitely appreciate those efforts.

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A story is made stronger by its characters and Trails through Daybreak is blessed with a fantastic starring cast. Van is the chief of Arkride Solutions. At first, he seems like a total bad boy. But as time progresses, you begin to see he’s a big softy and truly cares about those close to him. He really looks out for his younger employees and tries to guide them as best he can. He also has a massive sweet tooth which others take advantage of to give him requests. Agnès is Van’s first employee and a student at Aramis Academy. Despite her youth, she has a good head on her shoulders and tries to keep the rest on the straight and narrow. She doesn’t let the pressures of her family lineage get the better of her, and she really shows off how capable she can be as the story progresses. Feri is one of the youngest in the company and a jaeger with impeccable combat skills. While skilled in battle, she is very much ignorant in the way the rest of the world works, though she is willing to learn and expand her horizons. Her curiosity tends to make for some hilarious exchanges with other characters. Aaron, like Van, is a rebel and very perceptive. He goes at the beat of his own drum, loves to party, and cares a lot about his friends and hometown. He has no filter and really speaks his mind freely, willing to call people out when needed, and poke fun at Van’s age. He also isn’t afraid to make many dirty jokes and hit on women in front of the rest of the crew. Of all the employees, Aaron is probably the worst influence. Risette is arguably one of the most capable in the company. She’s strong, intelligent, good with technology, and even good at secretarial work. Aaron likes to joke that she should be the boss of Arkride Solutions, and with good reason. Quatre is a youth prodigy and, like Risette, is great with technology. His technical savvy really helps the crew when it comes to the Orbal Network, and he gives the company more avenues to tackle work. He can be a bit shy when he has to hang with the rest of the boys though, especially at the public bath. Judith is a famous actress with one of the worst guarded secrets. She has a very fiery personality and has no problems speaking her mind, sometimes to her own detriment. Bergard is the oldest of the crew and one of its strongest. He commands the respect of many people, and due to his age and experiences, can impart lessons and much needed guidance to Van and the others. All of these contrasting personalities seem like a volatile mixture, but they actually work together quite well. They are very much like a family and they cover for each other’s weaknesses. I enjoyed playing through the story that much more due to their chemistry and how each character worked and interacted with the other. Only having eight main party members was a benefit to the story, as well. It was easier to get attached to each character, and most of them got their own time to develop over the course of the story.

Trails through Daybreak | Annie and Lashkar

It’s not just the main cast that adds to the story, even the minor NPCs in Trails through Daybreak added flavor to the world. Though they aren’t as important as others like Nina Fenly and Saara, they still help bring the Calvard Republic to life. Lashkar is a young lad with dreams of becoming a bracer, all so he can protect his friend, Annie; San is a girl trying her best to live her life as free as she can, not bound by her Eastern lineage; Huck is an old man who loves playing mahjong and seems to be carefree, but he is also a capable businessman whom many go to for advice; Selma is a heartbroken girl who gets into running after her boyfriend breaks up with her for not being able to fit in a certain pair of pants; Seyla and Lulua are idols trying to make a breakthrough in the cutthroat music industry. These are just a couple of the NPCs you can talk to throughout your adventures in Calvard. I enjoyed going around and talking to every single one, checking to see how their life is progressing. It helped me develop an attachment to the cities and locals in the country, increasing my overall enjoyment of the main story. I highly recommend talking to NPCs when you can, it can really make the story that much better.

Xipha activate! Read up on the combat and more on page 2 ->

Patrick Aguda
Patrick is an avid fan of both video games and anime. He has been a fan of anime since his older sister introduced him to the genre when he was younger. He grew up watching shows such as Cardcaptor Sakura, Digimon Adventure, Gundam Wing, Dragon Ball Z, Tenchi Muyo and Yu Yu Hakusho. His favorite games include Persona 3 Portable, Steambot Chronicles and the .hack//G.U. trilogy. He strongly believes that Sinon, Maki and Mash are best girls.