Out of the countless games that occupy my time there are a few series that are closer to my heart than others. Hyperdimension Neptunia, for instance, is a pretty high-quality experience every time, as are the Pokémon games. Lately I’ve found myself falling for the Kiseki series, known in the west as Trails. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky was the first of these to be localized as a PSP game back in 2011. Yes, a PSP game in 2011; I’m sure that sold amazingly well.
As you can imagine, it’s taken a few years for these games to get the attention they deserve as some of the best Japanese RPGs out there. Point is, the positive response to the localization of the PC version of Trails in the Sky has led Falcom to localize The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC, or Second Chapter, the second part of the Sky trilogy. It took a while – a long, long while – but here it is!
if you’ve played the original Trails in the Sky, you’ve got an idea of what to expect here. These are similar to old-school PSX RPGs like Lunar or Grandia. There’s a decent combat system that ties everything together, but the real focus of the game is on world-building and high-quality writing. This enhances every aspect of the game; the level of polish and care taken to ensure that Zemuria feels like a real place is what will keep you coming back.
SC continues the story of Estelle Bright, whose adopted brother disappears after the end of the first game. Discussion of where he went and why would be a significant spoiler for the first game, naturally, so we’re not going to go into that. Instead, it will have to suffice to say that this follow-up retains the same quality found in the original Trails in the Sky.
The characters are believably written; in one interesting touch, Estelle isn’t a do-everything superwoman, but instead addresses that she has shortcomings such as being overly hasty and works to improve. The writing and humor feel similar to some of Working Designs’ old localizations, though one would assume that Carpe Fulgur took fewer liberties with the original text than WD did back in the day. Characters from the previous title show up in spades, of course, and if you’re also playing Trails of Cold Steel you’ll see a familiar Erebonian face or two as well.
Combat is much the same as the original game as well. You’ve got spells with charge-up times called Arts, skills called Crafts and super moves called S-Crafts. You’re able to see the turn order for both allies and enemies, so victory revolves around careful positioning to deal high damage and avoid enemy attacks as well as striking at the right time to delay dangerous enemies. Certain turns offer bonuses that can play into your strategy, such as allowing you to cast an Art instantly rather than having to charge it up, so you’ll need to take these into account as well. While the writing and plot are where SC shines, you aren’t going to hate taking out the trash in battle either, though fights can take a bit longer than other RPGs.
Much like The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, this is an instant recommendation for any fans of Japanese RPGs out there. The “ALL JRPGS ARE AWFUL!” bandwagon in games criticism faded away a few years ago, so those fans can emerge from their bunkers and check out The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC. It’s an excellent game that hits the right notes time after time. One can only hope we’ll see the final game in the trilogy released before too long – but after the enormous delay on this one, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.