The Legend of Heroes series has a rather large group of fans who have enjoyed uncovering the series through hundreds of hours of gameplay and character growth: it’s rare that at least one of the series’ titles isn’t on a top five list of every fan of the RPG genre. The series has a particular way of requiring the player to exercise patience as the story unfolds, but at the same time, keeping them at the edge of their seats with a unique battle system and interesting cast.
DualShockers has received an early preview copy of the newest entry in the series to come west, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd, available for PC on May 3. The game was first released in 2007 in Japan for PC and was later ported to PSP: for ten years, Western fans have waited, some more patiently then others, but it’s finally here.
To set up the premise, this entry will serve as the conclusion to the Trails in the Sky trilogy, taking place six months after the Second Chapter. With a game that most fans hold close to their hearts, this preview will focus on events that occur before the end of the first chapter: however, we will not discus any crucial story plot points that could be learned in this timeframe.
The game has the same transfer data feature that Second Chapter had, which grants incentives to those who have completed the previous entry. However, since Trails in the Sky the 3rd is only coming West on PC, those who played the series on PSP or PS Vita won’t be able to move their clear data over. With that said, I ended up quickly forgetting about losing out on transfer data minutes in to playing and it didn’t affect my experience throughout the scope of this preview.
The opening has the player assume the role of a masked Father Kevin Graham, a Priest and Grail Knight who has a cheeky side about him, which he expresses through his responses to those who interact with him. Kevin has boarded a Reinford company airship called the “Lusitania” with the motive to complete a secret mission for the Septain Church. Right away, the game throws nods and references to other titles in the series, including The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. It’d be tough for a fan of the series to not smirk at the knowledge of some of the NPCs who are aboard the airship that they’ve encountered briefly in past entries of the series.
The airship is clearly for the upper class, which is explained well by the large amount of the game’s NPCs. Interactions with NPCs were never boring as each provided a bit of information about their situation and who they are: for example, after entering a random room, a father tells his son that he spent all the money he had on tickets for the airship to show him what being rich was like. It’s small interactions like that which are so easy to miss, but so interesting to encounter, that make taking the time to approach every character well spent.
That being said, I think it’s possible to jump into Trails in the Sky the 3rd without playing the previous games. So far, the game has done well with explaining the situation and characters clearly so that, if someone wanted to, they could pick up with the Third and discover the series that way. However, I fear that it might not hold the same value as it would for someone who has grown with the series and understands all its quirks and systems. The story and characters certainly do have a charm about them that is discovered over the course of the series, and jumping in now would most likely hinder the appeal of the overall premise.
Trails in the Sky the 3rd has a turn-based battle system that builds off the systems seen in the previous games. Players are able to move around the map in order to get into a specific range and attack the enemy. Additionally, the use of Arts and Crafts have returned to execute powerful attacks; I enjoy this system as it adds a layer of strategy to the classic turn-based RPG systems that fans are used to.
The first chapter of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd accurately sets up the game’s 40+ hour story. It provides everything the player needs to be caught up with where the characters are in the story, while allowing returning players to experience events through the actions of Kevin Graham, instead of Estella and Joshua. Like most fans, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the conclusion of this series, but I find that the more I dive in, the more I would prefer it never had to end.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd will release on PC for Western audiences on May 3rd, 2017 – stay tuned for our full review coming soon.