Are you a fan of the classic JRPG? then Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky could be just the new title you are looking on PC. Originally released for PC in Japan back in 2004, this title took 7 years to make its way over here but on the PSP. Now thanks to XSEED Games and Falcom we can see this available on Steam for a fantastic price of £12.99 (Which also includes content that was only available on PSP). Yes that is right it does mean that this game is pretty much a 10-year-old port but do not let that put you off, Trails in the Sky is amazing in both its narrative and mechanics with a beautiful word that you would expect to see from any JRPG.
The game takes place in the Liberl Kingdom, 10 years after a great invasion from the Erebonian Empire of the north. The kingdom is currently governed by Queen Alicia II who has been successful in restoring the Kingdom to its previous peaceful state before the tragedy of war. The main character you will play as is 16-year-old Estelle Bright, she is a very energetic and positive character who also appears quite naive and to the point. When you start of the game you will already have Estelle’s adopted brother Joshua Bright who was bright home battered and bloody by Cassius Bright, the father of the two. Joshua is a quiet but knowledgable young lad who seems to level out the hot-headed attitude of Estelle. Both characters are training to become members of the Bracer guild ( The Bracers are a sort of police force who assist whoever requests help for a price, be this as a personal escort or to clear out a monster infestation).
Everything about the game for me was just what I have always loved in a JRPG. The writing is brilliant, no matter how big or small the characters in this world they all have strong personalities, histories, ambitions and connections to other characters in the game, it feels like as you progress in your quests the people of the world change to from simple things like some monsters creating a supply problem at a small farm, so the local cafe considers changing its menu which in turn actually changes what you can buy from the store at that time. That is just one of the subtle changes but it does make you want to keep talking to characters as and when you do more quests just to see what has changed. Like you would expect from this kind of game the dialogue is quite long-winded with a lot of reading to do but that is exactly what you play a game like this for, to be involved with the story and build up a relationship with its characters. The graphics are stunning, from the character design to the world you walk. You will find yourself stopping a lot just to check out the scenery and character models (they take me back to the character design from the “Shining” series). The backgrounds are all rendered in a three dimension state to allow you to rotate the screen while you explore.
The combat system is turn based and is set on an open field of battle, you will see in the top left of your screen each character and enemy and this will detail the next units turn. When one of your party is selected you will have the option to use one of the following commands: Move, Attack, Arts, Craft, Item and Retreat. You will also notice that the battlefield becomes tiled and details move space and what you can attack in that turn. Each action you can use is detailed below.
- Move: allows the character to go onto other tiles to either gain ground or retreat to a safer distance.
- Attack: Uses the currently equipped weapon to deal damage to an enemy
- Arts: The ability to use powers that become available by using the Quartz system (The in-game magic system), uses EP
- Craft: These are the characters skills which they can develop from the unique weapons they equip. uses CP
- S-Craft: This is a “Special” move that your character will get once CP reaches 100. You can select this once the bar turns red which will allow you to perform it during the end of the next characters turn (Friend or Foe), can also be used straight ager a normal attack which can used strongly to your advantage.
I really cannot recommend this game to you enough if you are as much a lover of these types of RPG as I am. I have been able to find very little so far that has made me unhappy with the story or gameplay. The story is said to be around 50 hours worth of game time and have 5 chapters including the prologue. So do yourself a favour and get over to Steam and purchase this one or if you have a PSP and prefer the handheld sitting on a train time killer go and hunt it out. You will not be sorry!