The Legend of Heroes: Trails To Azure Review – Crossing New Trails
NIS America has proven to be a boon for fans of The Legend of Heroes, as they are finally introducing the Crossbell arc with an official English localization. The second game in the Crossbell saga, The Legend of Heroes: Trails To Azure, is now available for PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. It is a sequel to its predecessor, Trails From Zero. These are relatively old games that have been remade for PS4 and then brought to modern systems. They are playable on the PS4, PS5, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
I have enjoyed my time with The Legend of Heroes series in the past, particularly with the Cold Steel arc. It spanned four games and introduced several memorable characters. It is refreshing to finally explore a new story arc and meet new characters while also encountering some familiar faces that we have grown to love in the series. I have also appreciated the efforts put into the English localization of these games, as they are handled quite well. Previously, they were only available through fan translations, or playable only in Japanese, but this is no longer an obstacle with this official release.
Trails to Azure is the second chapter of the Crossbell arc. It is set in the city-state of Crossbell and features Lloyd Bannings as the leader of the Crossbell Police Department’s Special Support Section unit. The opening picks up directly from the ending of Trails From Zero and sees Lloyd and Elie MacDowell return to the SSS. The story unfolds against the backdrop of the West Zemuria Trade Conference, which gathers representatives from Erebonia, Liberl, Calvard, and Remiferia. The narrative is rich and complex, with the game expecting players to have played the previous installment, The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero.
While the gameplay retains most of the features from its predecessor, Trails From Zero, we do see some new mechanics in the mix like the Master Quartz and Burst Attack. The combat plays out in the style of a turn-based system where the player and the enemy take turns, and there are several types of attacks to consider. The game diversifies with physical strikes, magic blasts, special skills, and powerful super moves to keep the combat fresh. While I am not a fan of the turn-based combat system, especially the outdated one, Trails To Azure never made me feel bored of its combat system due to the sheer variety of options it provides to the player.
Exploration in the first game was a bit lacking due to the repetitive travel between points of interest, but the sequel improves it by offering a fast travel system in the form of an Orbal Car. It makes it easier to travel to specific points on the world map, thus enhancing the exploration experience. The side missions also offer a nice change of pace from the main story, introducing elements like monster hunts. There are also missions where we have to look for clues and figure out various objectives.
Replay value is also abundant with a New Game Plus mode. If you are a devoted fan of the franchise, chances are you will give it a second playthrough with the New Game Plus mode as it carries over most of our progression including levels, Quartz, and equipment. Even though most of the important stuff manages to carry over, not everything will be included in the New Game Plus mode, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
While The Legend of Heroes: Trails To Azure is not visually stunning by any means, it does manage to hold up well thanks in part to its art style. The game launched more than a decade ago, so it is understandable why it might not appeal to everyone, but if you are coming off from Trails of Cold Steel, it will naturally be a step down to the old style of the PSP graphics. A welcome quality-of-life change is the ability to speed up the walking animation and combat, which improves the pacing of the game. However, the graphics hardly matter here because the focus in the game is the narrative first, and gameplay second. All other aspects come after these.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails To Azure excels in world-building and character development. It might not reach the heights of Trails of Cold Steel, but even on its own, this is a solid story with plenty of memorable characters. Even setting aside the strong main cast, the side characters are given equal attention. The writing is engaging and the character interactions are thoughtfully crafted with a strong emotional payoff in the relationships.
There are not many negative aspects to discuss about the game, to be honest. As mentioned before, the visuals are outdated and might not sit well, especially if you are transitioning from something like Trails of Cold Steel. The presentation is also suboptimal at times and feels dated, along with the UI. The entry barrier for players who are new to the franchise is also quite high, so consider this a negative as well.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails To Azure Game Information
- Price: $39.99
- Publisher: NIS America
- Developer: Nihon Falcom
- Platform: PS4 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher