The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki Announced For 2021 - First Characters, Story, Battle System Details Revealed by Toshihiro Kondo Via Famitsu
Everything Falcom and Toshihiro Kondo revealed about the new Trails game, The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki, coming in 2021.
On December 17 JST, Nihon Falcom announced The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki through the Famitsu magazine released that day. (Officially titled Weekly Famitsu Magazine December 31 2020 Issue). The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki will launch in 2021 in Japan. No platforms were specified yet but it’s likely the first Japanese release will be on PS4 and PS5. Falcom opened a teaser site, sharing screenshots and concept artworks. Here are all the details Falcom revealed through Famitsu magazine.
The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki follows Hajimari no Kiseki storywise, and will feature a new setting, new characters, and new game systems. It’s a new start for the series. First, take a look at the game’s official prologue we translated below. Needless to say, all the technical terms used there aren’t official. This is simply how we decided to translate them. They might be named or spelled differently the day the game gets localized.
The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki Prologue
“The underground solvers, also called Spriggan. A certain occupation born through the ethnic melting pot that is the Calvard Republic. Acting as detectives, negotiators, or bounty hunters. They accept any request, from anyone. Helping out the police when they can’t solve certain cases. Lending an hand to citizens whose problems can’t be solved by the law. And even requests from the criminal underworld. This is how the Spriggan live.
One day, in 1208, Septian Calendar. In the capital of the Calvard Republic, in the old town. A certain girl, with an apparent good upbringing, donning the uniform of a prestigious school, was standing in front of an old-looking residential building.
“Arcride Spriggan Agency”.
The girl gallantly looked at the plain office plate. She cleared her throat to steel herself and knocked three times.
“Uwaaaa, it’s pretty rare for clients to visit in the morning…”
The sloven, calm, and surprisingly young voice of a man reverberated as the doorknob slowly turned.
This marked the start of a new Trails.”
In Famitsu and the official press release, Calvard is described as a place with an oriental atmosphere, where many cultures and influences mix. The region experienced a boom due to post-war development. However, part of Calvard territory has turned into a desert due to the withering of its dragon veins, which is how Calvard natives name the Septium Veins. As such, many from these territories have migrated, creating anti-migration sentiment. Moreover, the new president of the Calvard Republic is pushing through big and bold reforms. Stirring more unrest in the region.
Next, Famitsu magazine included a six-pages long interview with Falcom president Toshihiro Kondo, revealing the first details on The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki. We summarized everything below.
Explaining the Name Kuro no Kiseki
First off, Toshihiro Kondo explained the title Kuro no Kiseki. Falcom decided on the name Kuro in late October 2020. Kuro no Kiseki is written with the kanji 黎, and comes from 黎明, which means dawn. Kondo said it’s to evoke the dark blue sky that slowly becomes brighter, with the sky being the darkest just before dawn. It’s also to reflect the state of the series, and how we still have no answers for the biggest mysteries, but they’re started to be shined upon. It also reflects the image colors of the new protagonists.
The Kiseki series protagonists until now were all clearly on the good side of society. With the Bracers, police officers, and soldiers. However, the new protagonists are in a grayer area. Their theme colors will have a mix of black and white, and darker colors like blue. The series also prefaced there will be a mix of black and white coming soon, with having white as the main color theme for Hajimari. Kondo joked he kinda regrets they didn’t call Hajimari “Shiro no Kiseki” instead to have some contrast with Kuro no Kiseki.
(While the official name could turn out different, you could call Kuro no Kiseki with the English name Trails of Dawn or Trails of The Dawn.)
New Engine Used for Kuro no Kiseki
Next, Kondo spoke about the development of Kuro no Kiseki. As he already hinted multiple times in the past, two games were in development once Trails of Cold Steel IV was finished. They were developed simultaneously. One turned out to be Hajimari no Kiseki. The other is the now revealed Kuro no Kiseki. The new game has a brand new setting, and fully uses the new in-house engine they started using with some of the cutscenes in Hajimari.
The main reason they changed engines is simply because it was getting really old and harder and harder to use for the employees. Moreover, the Kiseki series and the Ys series used different engines. Making it even harder for the developers who go back and forth between the two teams. So they thought it would be great if they made their own engine and used the same one for both series. The development of the engine fully started once Ys IX: Monstrum Nox was done.
Kondo stressed out the new engine still wasn’t done when they were working on Hajimari. Meaning Kuro no Kiseki will look better. The quality of the characters’ models have been upgraded too, and players will feel a considerable difference once they actually play the game.
Falcom’s Current Development Style, and how the Hajimari and Kuro Teams Were Separate
Following next, Kondo explained that while Falcom will use a new engine now, their work philosophy isn’t changing. Ever since Dragon Slayer, Falcom makes the games they want to play, play them, and improve on the points they can change. That’s why historically there are many developers in Falcom with multiple roles from scenario writer to programmer and planner. As they gained experience, they specialized in certain roles. An example for Kuro no Kiseki is how it has a dedicated planner. So the Kiseki team is changing a bit the way it works. Kondo jokingly added that the Ys team isn’t changing though. Falcom recruited some new staff these part years, who most notably worked on Hajimari. This mix of old and new Falcom and the increase in developers is what allows them to challenge new things with Kuro no Kiseki. Kondo also stated Falcom is always recruiting so be sure to apply if you’re interested.
The team working on Hajimari and the one on Kuro were separate, and only merged when Hajimari was completed. Kondo said the team is neatly layered, each layer working on specific parts, but how there are also multiple people working on the same elements, like the main scenario. He joked that he’s a bit worried with how the team is incredibly motivated and keep adding ideas on what they want to do. Kuro no Kiseki‘s development is going well, and they’ll make sure they don’t go overboard with the new systems.
The Culture, Climate and Size of the Republic of Calvard
Next, Kondo focused on the Calvard Republic. He explained that the name Calvard and characters from Calvard appeared in the games since Trails in the Sky. And how they already established with these elements that it’s a multi-cultural country. However, they only started thinking in-depth of the setting of Calvard when Trails of Cold Steel / Erebonia arc was over. Such as the organization of the Republic, it’s power structure, and the politics going on there.
Kondo explained they tend to wait to not set things in stone too early. In the past, if they had already fully decided what kind of place Calvard is, they might have been unable to do certain things now.
Calvard will surprise players with its large variety of landscapes. It’s inspired from Eastern Europe and Asian culture, mixing both. It’ll also feature a much more ethnically diverse cast compared to past games. The territory of Calvard is huge so there are many different cultures. Kondo said the size of Calvard on the Zemuria map, once more of the map is revealed, will probably end being as big as the Erebonian Empire. The climate of Calvard can differ greatly as well, with the eastern part being desert because of the withering of the dragon veins.
Later on, Falcom will explain the various cultures in Calvard, as they introduce the characters in Kuro no Kiseki.
Story and Characters of The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki
First off, Kondo explained the additional stories which were added to Hajimari on October 1, 2020, via a free update, work like a prologue to Kuro no Kiseki. The stories give a glimpse of some characters that will appear in Kuro no Kiseki, and they ended in March 1208 of the Septian Calendar. That’s around when Kuro begins.
90% of the Cast are New Protagonists, New Supporting Characters, And New Antagonists
Kondo explained that in Kuro no Kiseki, about 90% of the protagonists, the allies, the side characters, and the antagonists, will be brand new. It’ll be to the point that fans wouldn’t know it’s a Trails/Kiseki game without seeing the title. At the same time, this will also make Kuro an easy entry point for newcomers.
Kondo jokingly said the rest of the developers at Falcom threatened him to not reveal who is the protagonist yet, but he said that the three characters shown in the screenshots will be the root of the story. The female character revealed is the Heroine character of Kuro no Kiseki. (The Japanese games sense of the word Heroine. She is not the protagonist. You probably do know the meaning of the word Heroine in Japanese games if you’ve read this article this far).
She seems to be the female character mentioned in the prologue. As Kondo previously mentioned, you can see the mix of black and white in her theme colors.
Kuro no Kiseki Will Have the Oldest Protagonist Yet
Kondo didn’t confirm whether the man in blue is the protagonist or not. However, he said that the team wished to feature an older, mature protagonist. The protagonist of Kuro no Kiseki will be the oldest protagonist of the series so far. The only exception being 《C》in Hajimari.
The Golden Haired Girl and The Red Haired Boy
They had these characters in mind for 2 years, when the development of Hajimari and Kuro began. The golden haired girl appeared in the scenarios added through the update in Hajimari. Meanwhile, the red-haired man appears in the Hajimari no Kiseki official calendar. Kondo explained that showing us the golden haired girl in the additional story of Hajimari was a last minute addition they didn’t plan for. When discussing the update’s content, the Hajimari team thought that fans would be dissatisfied with how the Ouroboros Grandmaster didn’t show up in the game. So after asking the Kuro no Kiseki team, they added her episode.
Hints for the Returning Characters in the Remaining 10%
Some characters linked to Calvard who appeared in past games like Trails in the Sky will be back. Moreover, Kondo said “the past characters that you think will appear in the game will appear in the game. Probably”. Of course, Ouroboros characters will appear too. But he can’t say who and if it’ll only be new characters or not.
How Many Games The Kuro no Kiseki Arc / Calvard Arc Will be?
Kondo needless to say didn’t directly answer. He explained The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki will have a proper conclusion in itself. But they won’t be able to make more Kuro no Kiseki games if the first one doesn’t sell.
How Big The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki Will be?
Kondo explained the game will be around as big as a single Trails of Cold Steel game. However it’ll be a very different story. Sen no Kiseki series focused on Erebonia and the drama born through the empire. Calvard arc will show a different side of the world with how the main characters act in a morally gray zone.
Additional Details on the Amount of Characters in the Game
The series so far is an Ensemble Cast, focusing on many different characters and developing them. Sen no Kiseki games in particular had a huge amount of supporting characters, because Rean and the main characters had many allies. Meanwhile, because of the main characters’ job in Kuro no Kiseki, they have way more enemies than allies. So while Kondo can’t tell for sure until the game is finished, it’ll probably have around the same amount of side characters as in Sen no Kiseki. Except it’ll mainly be enemies instead of allies.
The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki – First Details on the New Battle System, Which is Still Turn-Based
Following next, Kondo spoke about one of the biggest aspects of the Kiseki series after its story, characters and worldbuilding. The battle system. First off, he joked that there obviously won’t be over 50 playable characters in Kuro no Kiseki like Hajimari did.
Toshihiro Kondo explained that in The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki, the transition from exploration to battle will be seamless, location-wise and time-wise. Meaning there is no dedicated fighting arena when a battle starts, and you start fighting on the spot. The only difference when you enter battle is a slight camera zoom. The Field Attack that appeared in past games until now has been fused into the commands you use in battle now.
Next, Kondo stressed out that while they plan to add Action elements, it won’t be an Action battle system. It won’t be a battle system based on reflexes like in an Action RPG such as Tokyo Xanadu. And it won’t be like a certain mainstream RPG remake, hinting at Final Fantasy 7 Remake. But instead of inputting the commands while the characters don’t move, you will be able to do it in “real time”. Moreover, we’ll be able to switch between the turn-based battle system and the battle system that includes Action elements. Turn-based will allow you to give out more fleshed out instructions to the characters, so you should switch systems depending on the situation. Lastly, Kondo stated the terrain’s geography will also affect the battle system.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and Crafts are still in Kuro no Kiseki. However, the Tactical Orbment Arcus is swapped out for a new element named Xipha. The Tactical Link and the Brave Order mechanics from Trails of Cold Steel and Hajimari no Kiseki are not returning. As a replacement, there will be several new systems using Xipha they will reveal later. The screenshot above is a battle screenshot, showing the red haired character preparing an Arts.
Battles will be Faster Overall
The main reason they’re changing the battle system is to increase the battle’s tempo. With a brand new UI and button operation, the battle time will only depend on the strength of the enemies now. Battles will be shorter when fighting weaker enemies.
New Game Systems
The Topic System
Kuro no Kiseki will introduce the Topic System. It’ll be similar to TIPS menus found in Sound Novels. (Such as Higurashi, Umineko, and the Mystery Files in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim). Kondo explained many fans of the Trails / Kiseki series enjoy regularly speaking with NPCs. The Topic System will be linked to that. For example, you heard in a conversation “it looks like that store will start a special sale starting next week”. This will be registered as a Topic in the Topic System. If you go to the specified store and use the Topic System, depending on how you bring up the subject, it’s possible to convince the merchant to give you the bargain ahead of schedule. This will be in tone with the protagonist’s job as a Spriggan, always turning situations to their advantage. Kondo however said they don’t know yet how far this system will go.
Alignment Frame System
Toshihiro Kondo explained that depending on your play style, the characters have three unique numerical attributes that will raise: Law, Gray, and Chaos. These attributes will influence the character’s stats and the scenario. It’s a brand new system in the Trails / Kiseki series called the Alignment Frame. For example, after catching a criminal, you’ll be able to choose whether you hand them out to the Bracer Guild or not. Each of the three attributes of the Alignment Frame will raise depending on these actions. And depending on your Alignment Frame, the job offers and the dialogue choices you get will differ.
New Game + is Still Here
Toshihiro Kondo said you’ll need to play Kuro no Kiseki at least twice to see everything the game has to offer and 100% the game. Your Law, Gray, and Chaos attributes are also inherited in New Game +. Moreover, it’s impossible to be locked out of an event because one of the three attributes is too high. So players don’t need to worry about missing content because they raised a certain attribute too much.
New System Similar to Bonding Events
Toshihiro Kondo explained that seeing the protagonist can also handle shady jobs, the game’s atmosphere is different than what we’ve seen in the Kiseki series so far. There will be a system nearly identical to Bonding Events, but under a new name. Partly because the protagonist is an adult.
The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki – Platforms And Release Date Estimate
Lastly, Toshihiro Kondo explained that Kuro no Kiseki has no specific release platforms announced yet. Basically, they’d like to release the game not only on PlayStation 4 but on other platforms as well. However, Falcom also encountered technical problems preventing that. So it might be best to first focus on the platform where there’s the most demand for the series. Kondo also mentioned how it’s difficult picking the platforms as fans overseas also have high demands for various platforms.
When Falcom started working on the new engine, they didn’t have access to PS5 info yet. However, they’re now making concrete progress for PS5.
Release Date Estimate
Kondo explained that first, Nayuta no Kiseki: Kai, which was simultaneously announced in Famitsu, will launch before Summer 2021 on PS4. Then Kuro no Kiseki will launch by the end of 2021. Falcom stated in its latest financials that the next Kiseki game would release by September 2021. Meaning Kuro no Kiseki will release by September 2021.
Kondo said they’d like to do a special event for the Falcom 40th anniversary. But it’s difficult with the current state of the world. It’ll be a shame to let the opportunity slip by, so they are preparing goods and other celebrations. More announcements will come by March 9, 2021, the anniversary day.
Last Words From Toshihiro Kondo in the Famitsu Interview:
Toshihiro Kondo: “This is a very big milestone for the Kiseki series. We’re renewing everything. Our company is cerebrating its 40th anniversary, so we need the appropriate fireworks to go with it (laughs). Right now, I can without any doubts say this will be our most ambitious game yet. We will keep doing our best so we can release the game for the 40th anniversary, heads held high. More information will be coming at a later date. Please look forward to it”.
The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki was announced by Falcom a few hours after the release of Famitsu magazine:
— 日本ファルコム (@nihonfalcom) December 17, 2020
How Falcom Previously Teased Kuro no Kiseki
Both The Legend of Heroes: Hajimari no Kiseki and the game after it, now officially announced as The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki, were first teased by Falcom in March 2019. Both games were furthermore teased with screenshots and story hints in June 2019, at the Kiseki Series 15th Anniversary Event. Lastly, Falcom mentioned in November 2019 that a new Kiseki game would launch in Japan by September 2020. Hajimari was finally announced on December 18, 2019, at a shareholders meeting. The game released on PS4 in Japan and Asia on August 27, 2020. Now, Kuro no Kiseki was announced on December 17, 2020, through Famitsu, and a few hours later at a shareholders meeting.
Falcom mentioned the new engine several times in the past too. Most notably, Kondo explained that if the Trails in the Sky trilogy ever gets a remake, it’ll be with this new engine.
Hajimari and Kuro were not announced in the west yet. Falcom teased Zero and Ao no Kiseki will get localized. The latest game released in the west is The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steeel 4. Be sure to check our review by series specialist Kris Cornelisse. Meanwhile, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox will be out in English on February 2, 2021 on PS4, and on PC and Switch in Summer 2021. Lastly, Falcom is already working on the next Ys game, thought we don’t know if it’s Ys X, an Ys V remake remake, or a spinoff like a new Kiseki Vs Ys game. Ys VIII Mobile is still in development as well.