The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero is a unique twist on a classic JRPG formula while also taking players on an unforgettable journey.
Welcome to the Special Support Section
Released for the PlayStation Portable back in 2010, The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero was a unique entry into the iconic JRPG series. Unfortunately, those in America missed out on this as it was released only in Japan. It won’t be until recently that we got to experience the fourth game in the Trails series.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero presents a unique twist on the classic JRPG setup. Players are tossed into an urban fantasy world plagued with corruption and civic apathy. They must work to rebuild public trust while fighting the nefarious forces that plague this world. The result is a memorable entry into the iconic Trails series that is now available for all to experience.
First Day in Crossbell
The story follows Lloyd Bannings, a rookie cop who is about to start his career with the Crossbell Police Department. Having graduated at the top of his class and passing the Detective Examine, he expects a promising start. To his (and his squadmates) surprise, they have been assigned to the new Special Support Section (SSS). The new unit has been set up to take up odd jobs at the request of citizens as means to get things done faster and to compete with the Bracer Guild.
Unfortunately; nobody in the Crossbell Police Department leadership has any expectations that the squad will succeed. It’s up to Bannings and the squad to prove that the SSS can be a successful unit. Things only become complicated when they stumble upon a sinister conspiracy involving the D∴G cult and the Heiyue Syndicate while also having to deal with public corruption.
The Legend of Heroes has always been a series that is rich in story, world-building, and character. Trails from Zero is no exception as it continues this tradition. Besides Lloyd and his squad, you will meet a variety of interesting characters whose personalities will add to the worlds charm. Despite its fantasy setting, Crossbell is a city grounded in reality with all the problems we all know (if you live in a city).
I should note that don’t feel intimidated about understanding this world if you never played a Trails from title. While playing previous games would help, it’s not required to understand this world.
Gear Up for Duty
For fans of either the genre or series, The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero has the classic JRPG setup. The game has struck a solid balance between storytelling and engaging action. Combat is turn-based using a grid system. During the players turn – they could either move a character, use an item, or attack (standard or special). Each character has their own special gear that could also be enhanced using a quartz.
If you played previous Trails titles, all of this should be familiar. If this is your first Trails game, not to worry. The intro does a solid job of introducing players to the gameplay mechanics and the world. While boring to fans, it’s welcoming for new or novice players.
Knowing how to get around this world is important because it has a lot to offer. It’s a shame to be only focused on completing the main story when there is so much to see in Crossbell and the surrounding world. It really has a lot of the standard elements seen in every JRPG but it also embraces it with moderation. You will have the standard adventures guild, shops, merchants, and off-beat sidequests. But it adds to the overall world instead of unnecessarily padding it.
Given that this is a port of a PlayStation Portable game, I was not expecting the visuals to be groundbreaking. While not impressive, it does have a charm that makes it ideal for such a game. The design choice makes the game feel like a classic JRPG from the PlayStation (I say this as a compliment). If you grew up playing such titles or are a fan of them, then you could appreciate the visual design of the world. The anime-inspired cutscenes will remind you that you’re playing a more modern game.
A Corrupt System
The only issue I have with The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero is the camera angle. Or more specifically, the lack of adjusting the camera angle. Not an issue in combat but it becomes annoying when exploring the world. There were moments that I miss something because of the poor camera angle and no option to adjust it. Thankfully the problem is only limited to exploring the world and not the combat.
On a side note; the soundtrack is not that impressive. A common issue I see in most Trails games is a weak soundtrack. It rarely sets the mood of the moment. Most of the time it just sounds like elevator music, making the moment feel boring when it shouldn’t.
Building Trust with the Community
Like so many titles in the series, players are tossed into a story-rich world while navigating with a familiar gameplay. It has the feeling of an old-school JRPG but it’s quick to remind you that this is a more modern experience. Overall; making it an ideal adventure for series fans along with new gamers.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero is a unique twist on a classic JRPG formula while also taking players on an unforgettable journey. From its familiar gameplay to its retro-style visuals, it has everything one could ask for in a JRPG. Overall, I’m now even more excited for the sequel – The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Azure.
Disclaimer: NIS America provided the game used for this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero (PS4)
- Rich in story, world-building, and character.
- Familiar JRPG gameplay mechanics that are easy to learn for new players.
- Crossbell and the outside world has a lot to offer.
- Retro inspired visuals that will remind you of classic JRPG's.
- Lack of adjusting camera angle.
- Soundtracks sounds dull and fails to set the moment.