All of the Crossbells and Whistles

The intrigue in Crossbell is at a boiling level, and it’s as much as a scrappy band of wannabes and weirdos to save lots of Zemuria from catastrophe.  Followers of the Trails collection are little doubt ecstatic that The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is each lastly seeing an official localization, and launching simply six months after the sport’s speedy predecessor, Trails from Zero.  With improved pacing, extra quest selection, and interesting fight, even the title’s points with an over-long finale, growing old graphics and exquisite, albeit overused, music can’t pull down an in any other case wonderful journey.

With the narrative choosing up shortly after the occasions of The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero, the Particular Help Part or SSS is a microcosm of the growing tensions throughout the city-state of Crossbell.  Pulled in a number of instructions by highly effective leaders, Lloyd Bannings and his staff of police misfits should navigate serving to the native populace with out angering neighbouring states, the Jaeger Corps, and a questionable cabal of merchants all packed into Crossbell Metropolis and the encompassing countryside.  Beforehand a notable NPC in Trails from Zero, Wazy Hemisphere joins the SSS and provides a much-needed stage of lightheartedness; with out his addition the plot, whereas wonderful, can be dreadfully heavy.  As a substitute he serves as an ideal counterpoint to the melodrama, and even when the story turns into lethal severe his irreverence within the face of hopeless odds helps maintain the plot from crashing down. The remainder of the solid carrying over from Trails from Zero additionally sees satisfying quantities of maturation and backbone to many ongoing issues. It culminates in an emotional closing story arc for Lloyd and KeA, with the finale being one of the vital emotional tour de forces in a collection packed stuffed with them.

The sheer quantity of world constructing, lore, foreshadowing and hard-hitting plot can’t be emphasised sufficient, and none of which might be evident with out a spectacular localisation. The up to date model of the Crossbell duology additionally consists of some refined nods to the Chilly Metal titles, equivalent to a member of Thors Academy being current throughout negotiations with the Erebonian chancellor.  As each Trails to Azure and the primary two Chilly Metal video games occur throughout the similar time interval throughout the bigger Zerebonian story, these added tie-ins assist make the titles really feel extra tightly tied collectively — nonetheless on account of this, Trails to Azure will not be an applicable start line for anybody within the total collection.  Regardless of this, each Crossbell video games come extremely really helpful, because the story is incredible and pays off in each giant and small methods, particularly in Trails to Azure.

Master Quartz make an appearance for the first time in the series.

Grasp Quartz make an look for the primary time within the collection.

Fight exhibits additional refinement and foreshadows the place the collection finally ends up with Trails of Chilly Metal.  Gamers can put together their characters for a wide range of fight conditions by guaranteeing their orbments, fight gadgets that use Quartz to unleash numerous spells and bestow power-ups, are in tip-top form. Quartz are available seven totally different varieties, and bestow fight perks, largely by way of stat boosts, in addition to exploration advantages, equivalent to exhibiting the place all treasure chests are in an space.  Enemies are typically seen on the map, and the SSS can attempt to get the soar on foes by attacking them from behind and gorgeous them, or by merely working into enemies that haven’t but seen the get together, for a bonus.

Every character has a barely totally different structure for his or her orbment, and stacking the proper forms of elemental Quartz unlocks spells, often known as arts, that can be utilized throughout fight. Trails to Azure introduces a really welcome menu display screen that exhibits precisely which spells a personality has unlocked.  Diversifying spells throughout the 4 predominant get together members is each helpful and essential for a number of the more difficult fights.  Quartz could be found in chests, obtained as quest rewards, or crafted by way of sepith dropped by enemies.  Debuting for the primary time are the Grasp Quartz — gems that match right into a particular slot on a personality’s orbment and develop over time, offering each elevated stats and particular passives, equivalent to offering short-term buffs initially of fight or growing the possibility debuffs or stat altering results will land on enemies.

As soon as fight begins, flip order is displayed on the prime left of the display screen, with a wide range of icons denoting particular boons (or often penalties) a personality might have throughout a particular flip, equivalent to a assured vital, recovering HP, or in uncommon circumstances dealing or receiving no harm in any respect.  Some talents can change across the flip order, equivalent to a particular craft which delays the opponent’s flip, although these price Combo Factors, or CP to make use of and can’t be repeatedly solid.  Orbal arts, bestowed by geared up Quartz, have a cost time, also can shuffle across the flip order in favour of the participant or enemy combatants.  Throughout heightened factors within the story, a brand new Burst meter will seem; as soon as stuffed, gamers can activate it to prioritise their staff’s turns for as much as 5 turns.  Throughout Burst, arts additionally haven’t any solid time, and the cooldown for different talents is diminished.

Combo Crafts are powerful two-person abilities that can decimate large enemy packs.

Combo Crafts are highly effective two-person talents that may decimate giant enemy packs.

All through the sport, particular extermination quests are supplied to the SSS, every of which drops a particular ebook which teaches a paired particular assault talent.  These price 100 CP from every character and usually present giant area-of-effect, high-damage assault abilities.  Lastly, any character with over 100 CP can interrupt the flip order at any time with a robust S-craft, which drain all their CP however have main advantages, equivalent to a party-wide heal, blocking all incoming harm, or making use of main debuffs.  Very similar to its predecessor, Trails to Azure is noticeably simpler than each the Trails within the Sky and Chilly Metal titles, although gamers can alter the issue to search out the suitable stage of problem.  General, fight is fast-paced, stays attention-grabbing all through the sport’s eighty or extra hours of gameplay, and provides ample flexibility to experiment with.

The sport’s music is spectacular, with the aptitude collection followers have come to anticipate, however after two full video games with a virtually an identical soundtrack, repetition does sink in.  With out the facelift the Nintendo Change and PC variations obtained, the PS4 model’s graphics are exhibiting their age, and whereas that is comprehensible as the sport started as a humble PSP title over ten years in the past, combining collectively barely drained graphics with recycled music is a little bit of a letdown.  Additionally notably lacking from the PS4 model is a dialogue log, which in a text-heavy sport missing English voice performing, is supremely irritating.  The voice performing additionally often suffers from oddities, notably some traces being a lot louder or quieter than the remainder of the scene, even when a personality isn’t shouting or whispering.

For these seeking to relax and calm down between missions, a wide range of facet actions could be undertaken, with ample rewards for doing so.  Cooking recipes could be discovered scattered all through the area, typically discovered on posters held on partitions or in conspicuous books; accomplished dishes all have makes use of in fight, together with as harm objects.  For individuals who favor pulse-pounding puzzle motion, PomPom Celebration! makes its first look, and could be performed on the SSS headquarters.  A match-3-meets-Tetris type mini-game, every opponent has their very own quirks and Lloyd might want to fill their area with poms by creating matches; chaining a number of matches collectively will increase the speed the opponent’s area fills.  Alternatively, Lloyd can calm down and drop some bait into fishing holes discovered scattered all through the world.  Regardless of being facet actions, all three present tangible advantages for fight and are satisfying methods to interrupt up massive blocks of story content material.

Fishing against new guild rivals unlocks new gear for combat and more fishing.

Fishing in opposition to new guild rivals unlocks new gear for fight and extra fishing.

Pacing is important improved from the earlier title with the sport transferring alongside decently for many of its size; quest selection, whereas nonetheless leaning in direction of being fetch-driven duties, has markedly improved, buoyed by quick journey inside the town unlocking virtually instantly, and the staff buying a automobile which acts as a fast technique of transferring to factors of curiosity.  Whereas there are nonetheless occasions the SSS has to stroll to a location, notably within the overly lengthy finale chapter when areas are closely restricted, usually for prolonged durations of time.  Nevertheless, these are the exception relatively than the rule, and usually traversal on foot is proscribed to dungeons or locales the place a automobile doesn’t make logistical sense.

For individuals who loved Trails within the Sky, Trails from Zero or the Trails of Chilly Metal titles, diving into Trails to Azure now that an official launch has arrived is an absolute no-brainer.  Regardless of the sport’s growing old presentation, a wonderful story, high quality localisation, and a number of quality-of-life enhancements will overcome any qualms gamers might have about minor points and fills in a vital narrative hole within the total collection.  Whereas it isn’t really helpful as the primary Trails title for newcomers, for established followers of the collection, The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is an absolute must-play.

Disclosure: This assessment is predicated on a free copy of the sport offered by the writer.


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Vastly improved pacing

Gripping storyline

Attention-grabbing fight

A number of high quality of life tweaks

Occasional voice performing oddities

Not sufficient musical selection

Graphics exhibiting their age


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