HomeReviewsGame ReviewsThe Legend of Heroes Trails to Azure Review: The Fate of Crossbell

The Legend of Heroes Trails to Azure Review: The Fate of Crossbell

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The Legend of Heroes series is enriched with a new episode: we’ve been playing Trails to azure for a long time, here’s what we think.

The Legend of Heroes Trails to Azure Review: The <a class=Fate of Crossbell">

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If a few years ago they had told us that between 2022 and 2023 we would have finally got our hands on the localized versions of The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero And Trails to Azure, we certainly would not have believed it. It took almost thirteen years and a lot of patience, but thanks to the extraordinary efforts made by Geofront – a team of fans so fond of the Nihon Falcom brand that they managed to translate the two fundamental episodes never published in the West – the Crossbell dilogy is finally usable in english language.

Although we now knew the facts told in Trails of Azure in broad terms, in recent weeks we have taken on the role of Lloyd Bannings and the other members of the Special Support Team to fill for once the narrative hole that, at least on our side of the globe, was created between the trilogy of Trails in the Sky and the tetralogy of Trails of Cold Steel (by the way, here you will find the review of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III) and at the same time prepare ourselves for the imminent arrival of The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reveriewhich as already explained on these pages will mark the conclusion of the events set in the western countries of the imaginary continent of Zemuria.

The last piece of the puzzle

Before going into the analysis of the plot we must first specify that The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure cannot be played without first completing Trails from Zero.

Similarly to what happened to Trails of Cold Steel I/II and III/IV, the two episodes of the Crossbell saga actually form a single adventure, which for reasons of time and opportunity – without forgetting the limitations of the PSP, a machine where the original versions were published – it was proposed in two parts. If already venturing into Trails to Azure without knowing the characters who appeared in the narrative arc of Liberl (explored in Trails in the Sky FC, SC and the 3rd) largely precludes the understanding of certain events that precisely see them involved, Trails from Zero represents an indispensable step to be able to try the second chapter of the dilogywhich not surprisingly is set a few months after the conclusion of the first.

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Following the defeat of Joachim and the DG cult at the hands of Lloyd Bannings and company, the Special Support Squad, which among other things protected little KeA and put an end to the production of the drug known as Gnosis, reached the objective for which it was initially created: to win sympathy and rehabilitate the image of the police in the eyes of the population, which until then tended to rely exclusively on the non-governmental organization known as the Bracer Guild.

After a short-lived summer hiatus, the city-state’s heroes assemble in August S.1204 to act as security during the “Western Zemuria Trade Conference” attended by representatives of various nations. As also mentioned in the first Trails of Cold Steel, whose events take place parallel to those of Trails to Azure (you are one click away from the review of The Legend of Heroes: Trail of Cold Steel for PS4), the event is however interrupted by a terrorist attack, the aftermath of which provides newly elected mayor Dieter Crois the desired pretext for declaring the independence of Crossbell City, possession of which was historically disputed between the Empire of Erebonia and the Republic of Calvard. Supported by the new gang members, Llyoid and his friends will soon have to deal with impossible situations and secret organizations that would like to exploit KeA’s powers to exercise total control over the city-state.

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Characterized by often surprising twists and embellished by masterful world building exercise carried out once again by the screenwriters of the Nihon Falcom house, the never banal plot of The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure deals with issues ranging from the political fictional sphere to the purely ethical one .

Deeply exploring the relationships between neighboring states and the unspeakable experiments involving children with special abilities, Trails to Azure and its direct predecessor in fact, they are considered the most mature chapters of the entire The Legend of Heroes saga, and moreover they lay a solid foundation for understanding the chapters in which all the plots of the brand will inevitably converge (for more details, go to the review of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV). Far from the calmness of the first Trails of Cold Steel and its carefree school setting, Trails to Azure boasts its bow of arrows an astonishing writing characterized by numerous ramifications, which is why the second part of the epic experienced by the Special Support Team does not struggle to keep the player literally glued to the screen for at least forty hours, depending on the time dedicated to secondary content and the development of bonds with teammates . It is only a pity that, as specified at the beginning, to fully enjoy this incredible journey it is necessary to know the history of Zemuria and its innumerable protagonists quite well.

From the past with fury…sort of

From a playful point of view, The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure has very little new to offer compared to its direct predecessor, Trails from Zero, from which it inherited the combat system and all the mechanics related to the development of the characters. As already seen in the other chapters of the saga, in Trails to Azure enemies are always visible on the map and therefore can be bypassedwhich is why battles only start when the player comes into contact with them: when this happens, a very rapid transition between the exploratory phase and the fight phase drags the party and the opponents into a kind of arena, starting the real fight own.

Being a title originally launched in 2011, the gameplay of Trails to Azure lacks many of the features appreciated in the Trails of Cold Steel trilogy, however the turn-based combat system and its deep strategic component still give great satisfaction. Since the challenges are consumed within a grid, the correct positioning of the four fighters who can be deployed on the front line is extremely important to enhance their talents and bring home victory. Endowed of Arts And craft capable of targeting large groups of opponents, all the members of the Special Support Team have special abilities to unleash at the right time, trying where possible to exploit the weaknesses of the opponents.

The main “novelty” of Trals to Azure is represented by the introduction of Master Quartzthat is to say particularly powerful orbments that the protagonists of the story can add to their equipment.

Where Trails of Cold Steel Class VII students were allowed to wear them at will, Lloyd and company can add only one each to their equipment; however, since the Master Quartz they affect all stats and provide very different skillsthe aforementioned limitation imposed by the developer does not affect much the customization of the units, which as usual will be free to exchange orbments and adopt completely different builds at any time.

If overall the albeit classic playful mixture of The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure has aged quite well, the same cannot be said for the technical sector. Born on PlayStation Portable, unfortunately both parts of the narrative arc of Crossbell loudly accuse the years on their shoulders, also because Nihon Falcom has done little or nothing to rejuvenate and embellish the two titles which had originally been launched on a handheld machine that wasn’t too high-performing.

The increase in resolution, the more detailed textures and the delicious super deformed characters only partially mask the venerable age of the title, which was not exactly state of the art at its debut. If nothing else, the introduction of the very welcome High Speed ​​Mode improves it a lot quality of life, speeding up the exploratory phases, the clashes and even the exchanges between the characters a lot.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to AzurePlayStation 4 Analyzed VersionDespite the years that have passed, from a playful and narrative point of view The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure still defends itself well, and today as then, it tells one of the most mature and engaging stories that the Nihon Falcom saga has to offer. If the always satisfying strategic component compensates for the absence of the many mechanics proposed by the most recent incarnations of the brand, the weak link in the chain must be found in the technical sector, which unfortunately has undergone very few tweaks and demonstrates a certain laziness on the part of the Japanese developer. On the one hand we are convinced that the most ardent fans will be able to close both eyes to the evident limits of the product, which after more than a decade of waiting has finally arrived on our shores, but on the other there is the concrete possibility that the scarce technical profile of Trails to Azure scares any newbies, who in order to fully understand and appreciate the events of the Special Support Team should still go first to Trails from Zero. Instead of launching them individually, perhaps it would have been wiser for the publisher NIS America to offer the two episodes of Crossbell through a single pack.

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