The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure continues the story of its predecessor while also polishing the classic formula of the series.
Welcome Back to the Special Support Section
Building upon the success of its predecessor, The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure continued the story of the Special Support Section. As with Trails from Zero, many of us missed out on this entry as it was released only in Japan. It won’t be until recently that we got to experience the fifth game in the Trails series.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure picks up where Trails from Zero left off. Players are once again tossed into an urban fantasy world plagued with corruption. This time the stakes are higher as the events are going to play a major role in the series lore.
Return to Crossbell
Continuing from where Trails from Zero left off, the story follows Lloyd Bannings once again, leader of the Special Support Section (SSS). Although the D∴G cult leadership has been detained, life in Crossbell City hasn’t returned to normal. Tensions have been mounting between Crossbell City and its neighboring countries, the Erebonian Empire and the Calvard Republic. To make matters worse, remnants of the cult are still present and targeting KeA.
The situation reaches a boiling point when Mayor Dieter Crois declares Crossbell’s full independence, effectively ending its status as a buffer state. This triggers a response from the neighboring powers. Meanwhile, Bannings and the SSS discover that Crois was the mastermind behind the D∴G cult’s actions and is still attempting to exploit KeA’s powers as a weapon. It is up to the team to put an end to the crisis and restore peace to the region.
The Legend of Heroes has always been renowned for its immersive storytelling, vivid world-building, and compelling characters, and Trails to Azure is no exception. Alongside Lloyd and his squad, players will encounter a diverse cast of unforgettable characters whose personalities and quirks add to the charm of the game’s world. While some characters are newly introduced, others are returning from the last game or other entries in the series, adding depth and continuity to the overarching narrative.
It should be noted that it’s best to have played Trails from Zero before getting into Trails to Azure. Since most of the story is based on the events of the last game, not playing it will leave a player in the dark. Additionally, progress from Trails from Zero carries over to Trails to Azure, making it easier to continue the journey without starting from scratch. While playing other games in the series can enhance one’s overall understanding of the world, it is not necessary to fully comprehend what is happening.
Patrolling the Streets
Fans of the series will be happy to know that Trails to Azure has kept its classic JRPG setup with some minor polishing. The game once again has a solid balance between in-depth storytelling and engaging action. Combat is turn-based using a grid system while players could use their turn to either attack or support the others. Each character has their own unique gear that could also be enhanced using the master quartz. Characters will also get stronger the more experience points earned through combat.
If you played the previous game or any titles in the Trails series then all of this should be familiar.
It is also important to know how to get around this Crossbell. This is a city that has a lot to offer and it will be a shame to only focus on the main story. Players should absolutely take the time to explore Crossbell and the surrounding world. The world has a lot of the standard elements seen in most JRPG’s but it also embraces them with moderation. It still has the adventures guild along with a plethora of shops that are managed by unforgettable merchants.
Given that this is a port of a PlayStation Portable game, I was not expecting the visuals to be groundbreaking. While not detailed, 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 era (I say this as a compliment). If you grew up playing such titles or are a fan of classic JRPGs, then you could appreciate the visual design of the world. Not to worry as the anime cutscenes will remind you that you’re playing a more modern game.
World in Chaos
Trails to Azure basically has the same issues as with the last game. The camera angles can’t be manually adjusted and the soundtrack doesn’t set the proper mood. I was not expecting these to be fixed and I’m not really mad about it either. These are issues that can be easily overlooked compared to everything there is to enjoy about the overall experience.
Justice in an Unjust World
Like so many titles in The Legend of Heroes series, players are tossed into a story-rich world. One gets to navigate and experience this world with its established gameplay. It has the feeling of a classic JRPG but it’s quick to remind you that it’s a modern experience. Overall; making it the perfect experience for fans of the series.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure continues the story of its predecessor while also polishing the gameplay. From its familiar gameplay to its retro style visuals, it has everything one could ask for in a JRPG. Fans should at least finish up Trails from Zero before starting this adventure.
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.
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