So, here we are: The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd, the final entry in the trilogy and, I’ve got to say, the one that stands out the most. The Legend of Heroes series means a lot to western JRPG fans and it rightfully should. In terms of the Trails in The Sky trilogy, these are games that would have never come west had it not been for such a dedicated group of fans: you’ll meet very few publishers willing localize a ten-year-old game, but XSEED seemed to hear these pleas and bring this amazing series west.
For those who are familiar with the series, Trails in the Sky the 3rd may seem like the black sheep of the group (if you aren’t familiar, I would highly suggest you stop reading and play the other games before jumping into this game). In this entry, our beloved protagonists, Estelle and Joshua, are now reduced to side roles and the world that we explored in the First and Second Chapter is now just an extremely long dungeon. So what can Trails in the Sky the 3rd offer fans? Well after playing, I can say that this game not only serves as an amazing conclusion to the trilogy, but also a much appreciated reunion with the characters that we’ve encountered through hundreds of hours of gameplay.
Trails in the Sky the 3rd begins with an epic raid on an airship called the Lusitania, as players assume the role of Kevin Grahm, a Priest and Grail Knight who is on mission to steal a mysterious gem. Right away, fans of the series will notice a lack of the trilogy’s dynamic duo, Estelle and Joshua, but I think that Kevin fills a role that not many main protagonists have filled in the past from the previous games.
This is mainly because Kevin Graham is 22 years old and comes off as intelligent, smooth, and unafraid to take on intimidating circumstances. Furthermore, he knows how to handle himself during battle as well as with the ladies, which is rare for a main protagonist in RPG games since they are all usually 16 or 17. At Graham’s side is Ries Argent, a squire who always seems to be hungry and has a calm, yet intimidating, temper that reveals itself every time she is feeling threatened. Trails in the Sky the 3rd’s story revolves around Kevin and Ries’ relationship and their personal history.
“This game not only serves as an amazing conclusion to the trilogy, but also a much appreciated reunion with the characters that we’ve encountered through hundreds of hours of gameplay.”
Unlike the previous games where players can freely explore the world, Trails in the Sky the 3rd takes place in a large dungeon with multiple floors, called the Phantasm. Kevin and Ries find themselves trapped in this alternate dimension as they attempt to look for a way out: after exploring a few floors, they end up discovering many of the dungeon’s mysteries. Throughout the game, players will happen upon these gems that contain characters across FC and SC. It was always interesting to see who would come out of the gem next because I had a few characters that I was hoping to add to my party each time, but was usually satisfied with the outcome. Following the character reveal, a door would unlock and allow access to a deeper floor of the dungeon.
Now, this is where the game can get a little annoying if you are coming straight from playing SC because most of the dungeons are basically just towns and dungeons from the previous two games. Sadly, there isn’t anything new about these areas and it ends up feeling like the developer just wanted to reuse old assets and make you go through them again. Additionally, the game even reuses old bosses that were difficult enough the first time around, and now asks for players to beat them again at a higher level. It was here that I ended up really missing the Bracer missions from the previous games, as they provided a way to take my mind off of the main quest.
Battles play out very similar to what players would have seen in FC and SC, except now you get to create your own dream party and use some of their awesome Crafts: if you enjoyed the battle system in the previous two games, then you’ll enjoy this one. Even though it’s just more of the same, playing the game with new characters gives a pretty fresh feeling and I never felt bored.
Throughout the dungeons you’ll discover doors that can only be opened by a certain character, which ends up meaning that most of the time you’ll have to return to the door later because the game likes to tease characters you haven’t found yet. Each door is marked with a star, moon, or sun which translates to past, present, or future in terms of when in time the story behind the door will take you.
The events that play out behind the doors require the player to have knowledge of the story and situations presented in the previous two games and it doesn’t slow down to explain anything. Through these stories, Trails in the Sky the 3rd brings the ultimate closure to the trilogy as it wraps up any important plot points that might have been missed in FC and SC. Additionally, there are some deep and emotional stories that I found it hard to push through, due to how powerful the writing was.
In the end, Trails in the Sky the 3rd comes off to be more of an amazing visual novel than RPG. Yes, there are plenty of RPG elements like boss battles and level-ups, but what kept me going and what I can see fans enjoying most about this entry in particular is the story. However, if you’re looking for a game as amazing as Trails in the Sky SC, then I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd provides a very fans-only story campaign that will satisfy anyone who’s enjoyed the trilogy to this point. Even though assets were reused from the previous two games, it doesn’t stop Trails in the Sky the 3rd from standing out on its own and giving each character a proper conclusion. I had to wait many years, but I’m glad to have finally been able to complete the Trails in the Sky trilogy.