The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero
“The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero puts together a politically engaging story, fun gameplay, and likable heroes into one epic RPG.”
- Politically charged story
- Fun battle system
- A forged of likable characters
- Dated graphics
- No English voice acting
A couple of decade ago, a world simultaneous launch was unheard of for Japanese games outside of the most important publishers akin to Nintendo or Square Enix. That’s slowly changing as more publishers embrace worldwide launches for a type of game that was sometimes exclusive to 1 a part of the world. Japanese developer Falcom has been slow in picking up this trend and you may see that reflected in The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero. The RPG was first released in 2010 for the PlayStation Portable in Japan, but was never released for the West — until now. NIS handling publishing duties.
The Legend of Heroes franchise is the closest franchise that gaming has to something just like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Characters and events from The Legend of Heroes: Trails within the Sky and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel games are all interconnected. Those games already received official localizations with the Crossbell arc, which incorporates Zero and its upcoming direct sequel, Trails to Azure, being the last ones.
With the duology officially being localized, players outside of Japan will now find a way to grasp and contextualize the entire events within the city-state of Crossbell that interconnect with those of Sky and Cold Steel. This is vital going forward because future games within the franchise will contain characters from all three of those past titles, including the upcoming The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie, which can also be slated to come back out next 12 months for the West.
Despite being over a decade old, The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero‘s implausible story still holds up because of phenomenal world-building fraught with the political subterfuge and likable characters that the franchise is thought for.
The State of Crossbell
Trails from Zero follows the Special Support Section (SSS), an offshoot group of the Crossbell Police Department that’s meant to tackle odd assignments. This includes jobs akin to exterminating powerful monsters out in the sphere or just just collecting overdue library books for a front desk clerk. This makes the sport’s various fundamental quests and sidequests very entertaining and varied, as you get serious moments a couple of family almost losing their son to a monster attack, after which one other moment where a daughter is berating her father for reading boring books about trains.
There are 4 fundamental characters within the SSS: Lloyd Bannings, Elie McDowell, Randy Orlando, and Tio Plato. The SSS is assigned to analyze the dark underbelly of Crossbell, a city-state that lies between the Erebonian Empire and the Calvard Republic. What makes Crossbell such an engrossing political setting is that it’s a delegated neutral zone and each nations claim sovereignty over it. In consequence of the fight for control over Crossbell, the city-state is full of political corruption and arranged crime that institutions, including the police, turn a blind eye to.
The story has implausible pacing as each chapter builds on the conflict and tension within the prior one. For instance, the primary chapter involves the SSS attempting to stop two rival gang factions from starting a bloodbath with one another downtown. Because it goes on, the connections between each story event begin to unwind, giving a clearer picture of how deep the rot goes inside Crossbell. Each chapter is full of wild twists and turns that keep piling up, keeping me engaged with the story until the tip.
Gameplay ages gracefully
Despite Trails from Zero’s age, the minute-to-minute gameplay has aged incredibly well, each in and outdoors of battles. In each chapter, the SSS is given multiple assignments, which include the general fundamental quest and a bunch of sidequests, the latter of which mostly expire at the tip of the chapter. While you may just follow the sport’s critical path, Trails is certainly one of the only a few series through which each sidequest is thoughtful, entertaining, and helpful.
Exploring these sidequests often provides priceless items akin to accessories to equip your party with. In addition they offer substantial world-building. For instance, there’s one sidequest that involves the SSS gathering flowers for a funeral home, nevertheless it seems that the person in charge desires to pay respects to Lloyd’s older brother, Guy Bannings, who died in the road of duty. What follows is an efficient conversation about Guy’s selflessness and dedication to helping others.
The battle system is turn-based, where characters can move across the battlefield and choose from a wide range of physical and magical attacks. It starts off a bit limited, but as characters level up, they learn latest Crafts to fight with. Crafts are special skills which have different uses and properties. Lloyd’s Axle Rush only covers a small circular area. but is in a position to push enemies backward and spread them out, while his Encourage ability increases the morale of his teammates inside a certain vicinity around him. Each character has each unique attacking and supporting crafts that keep battles fun because the game progresses, continually making heroes feel stronger.
There may be an unlimited diversity of various builds to be certain that the combat doesn’t feel stale.
While each character only learns about five Crafts, the sport’s real customization comes through within the Quartz system. Quartz are gems with various effects that may be slotted into each character and may be earned through item creation or sometimes as rewards for completing certain sidequests. Need to construct Elie as a counterattack machine? Equip her with some evasion stat-boosting Quartz gems and watch enemies miss their attacks, activating a counterattack to have her deal damage when it’s not even her turn to act. There may be an unlimited diversity of various builds to be certain that the combat doesn’t feel stale.
Because the international version of Trails from Zero is a port and remaster of the PSP game, tech isn’t its strong suit. Environmental textures are blurry and the character models appear to be they’ve been pulled out of a PS1 game. For some added context, the PS4 version doesn’t include any of the graphical enhancements and quality of life changes that the Nintendo Switch and PC ports may have. That is most certainly since the PS4 remaster version already exists in Japan, and the Switch and PC versions are brand latest ports commissioned by NIS.
It’s a shame that the presentation isn’t as consistent and as much as par because the game and series overall deserve.
One other disappointment is the shortage of an English voice track. The sport has extensive voice acting and it could’ve been nice to incorporate an English dub for individuals who prefer it over the Japanese one. It’s puzzling since the SSS and plenty of other characters from the Crossbell arc make substantial appearances in each Trails of Cold Steel III and IV, which received full English dubs once they were localized in 2019 and 2020, respectively. As such, Lloyd and his comrades have already got been forged with English voice actors.
These decisions are comprehensible provided that Trails from Zero is a much older game with a more limited audience and requires quite quite a lot of localization work considering how enormous the script is. Nevertheless, it’s a shame that the presentation isn’t as consistent and as much as par because the game and series overall deserve. Even so, I’m still very much looking forward to Trails to Azure coming to the West next 12 months.
One thing to also note is that players may have to play the Trails within the Sky trilogy first before jumping into Crossbell so as to fully understand the context of events in Trails from Zero. The fundamental protagonists of that series, Estelle Vibrant and Joshua Vibrant, have pretty substantial roles here.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero still gracefully ages where it matters in its story and gameplay. The interconnectedness of the franchise lets you feel the political consequences and fallout of all of the large events happening in the sport’s world. With its likable forged of characters, fun gameplay, and intriguing story, JRPG fans may have an incredible time with Zero.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero was reviewed on PS4.
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