The Legend of Heroes has quietly turn into considered one of my favourite JRPG IPs. Like many Nintendo followers, I hadn’t performed a single recreation within the collection (there are round 20, relying upon whom you ask) till Trails of Chilly Metal III hit the Swap in 2020. I’ve since performed every of the Swap releases, and The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is among the greatest.
Initially launched in 2011 for PSP, Trails to Azure is the direct sequel to The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero, which was up to date for the Swap in 2022. When you skipped that, you should still acknowledge lots of the characters from the Trails of Chilly Metal video games since they’re all set inside the similar timeline. It’s a large universe of politics, friendships, heroics, and betrayals that’s fairly troublesome to maintain monitor of. Trails to Azure consists of loads of background info (each from the menu display and varied bookshelves scattered all through the sport) to convey you updated.
As such, I’m not going to bathroom down this assessment with backstory; I don’t really feel like writing one other faculty thesis. You must positively play Trails from Zero earlier than beginning Trails to Azure, however you’ll in any other case choose up most of what it is advisable know simply by taking part in the sport. Additionally, the story’s plot factors by no means stray too removed from the standard JRPG tropes. There’s a giant unhealthy coming, and it’s as much as our rag-tag crew of upstarts (and numerous mates…and typically enemies) to save lots of the day.
That is dealt with throughout two most important kinds of environments. First, you may have quite a few, large cities to discover.
These areas are the place you meet a lot of the recreation’s characters and get the narrative. The central location is Crossbell, the place the Particular Help Part (SSS) that you simply kind-of lead has its base. Right here, you’ll settle for quite a few requests that both drive the story alongside or serve to only degree you up and get you great things. Most duties should be performed inside an in-game day, so preserving monitor of what you achieved is essential. Transfer too far forward and also you gained’t be capable to full your missions, thereby dropping out on their rewards.
The difficulty with that is that some duties require loads of city exploration. You’ll be able to rapidly zip to the precise borough you need, however every is crammed with a mix of shops, places of work and residences to take a look at. These typically comprise bonus objects and hidden quests you’ll be able to miss, so completionists will spend quite a lot of time revisiting areas and rechecking cabinets to ensure nothing new has appeared. Fortunately, there are quite a few walkthroughs accessible to information you alongside.
Additionally slowing down the journey are the necessity to play mini-games and gamble. I desire my video games not have video games inside them, and I prefer it much less when obtainable objects are basically locked behind these video games.
Perhaps it’s the Methodist in me, possibly it’s simply that roulette and card video games bore me, however I’d relatively be adventuring than sitting in a on line casino.
So, let’s journey. Your celebration’s preliminary journey to a brand new city at all times occurs by foot, and people linear however lengthy paths provide you with loads of alternatives to battle monsters, purchase the quite a few objects it is advisable degree up, and wrap up a couple of of your assigned duties (monster management is at all times a urgent want). Enemies might be seen on the display, supplying you with the choice to have interaction or keep away from. When you assault them from behind you get a slight bonus when going into battle.
The turn-based fight system itself is complicated, however we will boil it right down to the same old parts. Turns are assigned based mostly on velocity, and every character can choose to maneuver, assault, use an merchandise, or use an artwork.
Arts are nice for concentrating on an enemy’s weak point, however they normally can’t be forged instantly, giving the enemies an opportunity to get assaults in earlier than you. The humanities accessible for every character are decided by the participant, so studying to optimize your celebration with the assorted objects you’ve acquired and upgraded turns into the important thing to victory. You’ll be able to stability your characters to ensure you’re considerably lined it doesn’t matter what you’re going through, or you’ll be able to go heavy with a selected kind of artwork (hearth, earth, wind, and so on.) if you recognize what you’ll be up in opposition to. I tended to remain balanced for normal battles, and would solely get exact with character and ability administration after getting my butt handed to me in a boss battle…which occurred extra typically than I care to confess. Fight is never unfair, however the recreation does ensure you regularly handle your celebration.
Fortunately, Trails to Azure provides you loads of particular fight skills to pressure your approach by the more durable battles. Buying, optimizing, and equipping quartz supplies provides you entry to a wide selection of skills, buffs, and enemy debuffs. There are at all times new weapons and armor to search out or buy. Saving as much as unleash highly effective S-Craft assaults could make issues a bit simpler, as can the Combo Crafts between particular characters. Timing these assaults within the larger battles might be tough to drag off, however it’s a rewarding system. The bosses and mini-bosses can typically take fairly a while to defeat, offering a pleasant change of tempo from the repetitive fights between cities.
Talking of being between cities, Trails to Azure has one thing I’ve by no means seen earlier than in a online game; the treasure chests are comedians. When you click on on them once more after retrieving their merchandise(s), they’ll inform you a joke—a few of which are literally fairly intelligent.
One of the best a part of The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure, nevertheless, is the story. Particularly, the characters who drive the story. The difficult plot typically provides us an excessive amount of to learn, however that permits the quite a few individuals you meet to have shocking depth. Many don’t see eye-to-eye regardless of having related objectives, and it’s intriguing to look at their relationships develop—for higher or worse. There will definitely be some you want greater than others, however I can’t think about anybody will play this recreation with out rallying behind Lloyd, Elie, Noel, Wazy, and (in fact) KeA. Even the enemies are participating…though some require you to simply accept a pair troubling character flaws.
I additionally fairly like the way in which the sport appears to be like and sounds. The up to date graphics are nonetheless a bit dated, however in a comforting sort of approach. They’re quaint, however detailed, and so they’re a implausible match for the Swap in handheld mode. A few of the assault animations are underwhelming, however that’s to be anticipated on a recreation this previous. The music suits the visuals completely, and is surprisingly numerous—altering tone based mostly on the vibe of your present location.
All of this comes collectively to supply an expertise that rivals these of JRPGs developed a decade later. The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure might look cute and easy, however make no mistake; it is a very difficult, very rewarding recreation that may take quite a lot of your gaming hours.
Simply ensure you begin from Zero earlier than heading to Azure.
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