The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure Review 45

The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure Review

The recent push to revisit gaming’s past has resulted in a number of titles finding second life. One such franchise to benefit is The Legend of Heroes series. Many of the earlier titles never made it to North America, or if they did it was a later port for things like PlayStation Portable. This resulted in many never experiencing them, and it wasn’t until The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel that impressions started to change. Recently, NIS America brought back The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero, which is the first half of a larger story that The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure finishes. With hype, familiar faces, and so much history, is this a must for fans, or did publishers do you a favor by not bringing it over?

As previously mentioned, The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is the second part of the Crossbell story arc. It’s a direct sequel to The Legend of Heroes: Trails From Zero, and like Mass Effect, you can even import your save to retain your previous choices. Unfortunately, for these reasons The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure can be hard for a newcomer to get into. However, there is a brief optional overview of The Legend of Heroes: Trials from Zero included.

Don’t Forget to Revisit the Past

Unlike The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, these sections only cover the core details. There are five main options, each with couple pages of words that can be read in roughly a minute each. There are also key terms/character profiles, though they’re not as important and equally short. In all I’d say you can read everything in approximately 10 minutes. I do suggest this if you’re not confident in what you remember, as The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure assumes you have a good idea of what is going on.

As for the actual narrative, it starts in the middle of Lloyd and crew chasing after disgraced political Hartmann, and his secretary, Earnest. This ends in a climatic battle that hints at some of the reveals to come. Following that, you head back to Crossbell to join the latest version of the Special Support Section. Shortly after you hear rumblings of Red Constellation making a move that you need to discover, and ultimately stop.

Like most Trials adventures, The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure starts somewhat slow before building to a massive, and complicated narrative. Since this is a sequel it benefits greatly from having the groundwork established, with even the slow sections having considerable implications. It’s also an adventure that is worth the investment, as many of the twists pay off in an interesting way.

Gameplay isn’t terribly different in The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure. There is an overworld to explore, with enemies roaming the map. Attacking them will briefly stun them to give you an advantage, getting caught off-guard will give them an early attack, and alerting multiple enemies at once will initiate successive battles.

These sections are fun, but not exactly revolutionary. Little things, such as placement, can make a big difference. Certain characters/enemies can hit multiple targets, making it important to be aware of. A lot of enemies will also use area of effect skills that you can choose to avoid, or maximize damage by ignoring. Most things have some kind of cost, including a turn for build up, potential to miss, or using limited resources, making management key to victory.

In practice a lot of this will hinge on your actual understanding of the mechanics. Most fights can be brute forced, with bosses requiring a little more. This can make repeated fights underwhelming, especially if you’re trying to find all the treasure/secrets hidden throughout the world.

To help change things up, there are cinematic special attacks, wide variety of things to overcome, and an optional “high-speed mode.” While I really like the idea behind these things, it’s hard to believe how slow the original adventure was. High-speed mode moves in a way where you can’t fully appreciate all the special attacks, though you can freely enable/disable to enjoy them, with the original adventure moving at a snails pace. It’s such a difference I could realistically win fights in the time it takes to show animations at their original speed. Even if it’s not well balanced, or could benefit from more levels, it’s still a feature that is invaluable in practice.

Certain Graphics Look Really Bad

Exploration is another element that starts to show The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure‘s age. A lot of levels are fairly linear, with no easy way to navigate them. Typically there is a path forward, and another that takes you to a room with an optional chest. These are nice, though some of the winding paths can be annoying, with the linear nature takes away from some of the enjoyment. The ability to break certain items is also nice, even if it’s infrequently used.

While this is a port of a somewhat new game, graphics range from okay to bad. Some sections look nice and clear, though it’s contrasted by noticeably weak sections. It reminds me a lot of the recent Tales of Symphonia Remaster. Most important items look great, or at least clean, it’s small background things that stand out. There are also the occasional item in the forefront that looks bad, an unfortunate choice that takes away from the experience.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure Review Verdict

The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure: Fans of The Legend of Heroes saga will likely love The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure. The elements fans love are present, with some information that helps understand events in the more well known titles. Gameplay is also modern enough to keep players interested. In fact, I found the unique look the sprites had to add some charm to the adventure. It's unfortunate some places didn't age as well as others, but as a whole it's still a solid RPG to explore. Grant

von 10

[Editor’s Note: The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.]

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