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The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak Review

The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak Review

The Trails series has long been one of my favourite RPG franchises, and with the previous three story arcs all wrapped up and finished (for now, at least), it’s time for the series to showcase a new cast of characters. Enter The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak, the first title in the Calvard arc! After its initial release in Japan in 2021, this new journey has finally come west. But with it comes a whole host of questions. Can it live up to the previous titles? Are the new protagonists as endearing as Rean, Estelle, and the rest? Is it even worth playing if you’re not caught up on the previous 10 mainline games? Hopefully, this review will answer all of those questions and more. So, let’s get to it!

Trails through Daybreak takes place in the Republic of Calvard approximately one year after the end of Trails into Reverie. If you’re not caught up on this expansive series, then fear not, as Daybreak is a great jumping-in point with new character Van Arkride as the main protagonist. Playing the previous titles will certainly help with the lore and having a general understanding of things, but they aren’t essential (though definitely recommended!) to fully enjoy this story.

Van is what’s known as a “Spriggan”, a sort of detective, hunter, and menial task completer all rolled into one. Similar to the Bracer Guild that’s heavily featured in previous games, just a little more open to shadier jobs. He’s based in Calvard’s capital city, Edith, and the opening sections see him tasked with finding a missing Orbment for Agnes Claudel. Initially reluctant to take the job, Van is eventually won over by a rather tasty-looking slice of cake, and the two set off in search of the old equipment, forming a bond along the way. Now, obviously, Trails through Daybreak isn’t just a simple stroll around Calvard collecting some trinkets, and it doesn’t take long for Van and Agnes to get caught up in some serious business relating to a terrorist organisation as well as Van’s mysterious past.

The story still has the same pacing issues as the previous titles, with long stretches of drawn-out dialogue that do nothing to grow the narrative or flesh out the main cast of characters. That said, it doesn’t feel half as bad as some of the previous titles, and if you’re truly engaged in the world, you won’t mind a bit of meaningless chatter anyway! Overall, though, this is another fantastic tale from Falcom and perhaps one of the darker-themed stories to come from the developer.

As always, a great voice cast lends their talents to bringing the variety of characters to life, especially in the more emotional moments, but the game’s dialogue isn’t all spoken aloud. Many of the “lesser” scenes are text-only, and some, oddly enough, are voiced by one or two characters but not by others in the scene. This last point is particularly jarring when you’ve got a secondary character discussing matters, with Van replying with no sound coming out. It’s not unusual for this series, but I do wish the developer would have recorded some more voice acting in scenes when only half of the characters include audio.

As for the visuals, Trails through Daybreak has that classic Falcom style of “looks good, but not current-gen good” across the board. Characters are detailed, expressive, and varied enough to stand out, even if the models aren’t that high-poly. Environments fare a little worse, and though a good diversity of areas are featured, they do all look a little bland and monotonous. Animations are still great, however, especially when pulling off those incredibly flashy special moves The Legend of Heroes does so well!

The biggest change made in Daybreak is the combat system, which is now a hybrid of two gameplay styles. First are the Field Battles, which are more real-time sequences akin to the Ys series (though much less in-depth). Here the goal is to attack, dodge, and pull off combos to not only take a good chunk of health off enemies but also build up their stun gauge. Fill this, and you’ll start off with the advantage. Sort of like how, in previous games, you could get a pre-emptive strike before the battle began, but a bit more fleshed out.

You’ll also have the option to jump into the turn-based battle system that series veterans will be familiar with — and the one I certainly preferred — although that doesn’t mean they’re identical to the previous iterations. These turn-based fights (or AT Battles, as they’re called) are vastly improved upon, and they were already incredibly fun! Firstly, being able to freely move a character without using up a turn becomes a great way to tactically line up a group of enemies for a skill attack or get clear of something that is about to attack on the next turn (helpfully shown by the turn order appearing at the top of the screen). The whole system feels much quicker than before — despite it still being turn-based — and many systems, such as link attacks, are now streamlined to keep the action flowing at an excitingly fast pace.

When not taking out groups of monsters and the sort, you’ll explore towns and dungeons and take on quests, do a bit of shopping, or craft rare quartz to further bolster your magical attacks. The environments feel much larger than any previous game in the series, but there isn’t all that much to do in terms of minigames or content outside of sidequests.

During certain quests, you’ll often be given choices that affect the L.G.C. Alignment mechanic and earn Van points in the Law, Gray, or Chaos bars depending on your choices. These never alter the main story or make any meaningful impact on the world, but do unlock some goodies and allow you to become allies with certain groups later in the game.

Once again, a Legend of Heroes game knocks it out of the park when it comes to an engaging story, a cast of fleshed-out and likeable characters, and a revamped battle system. Whilst the new Field Battles feels a little underwhelming, the turn-based action fans know and love is the best it’s ever been. The much more serious tone of the story is a welcome change and really takes Trails through Daybreak in a direction the series hasn’t been before, and though a Western release for the sequel has yet to be announced, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the return of Van and his companions to see where the story goes next.

9.00/10 9

The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak (Reviewed on PlayStation 5)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

A dark, more mature story, a great new cast of characters, and much improved turn-based action make Trails through Daybreak a fine addition to the franchise that’s accessible to fans and newcomers alike.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Mike Crewe

Mike Crewe

Staff Writer

Bought a PS5 and won't stop talking about it

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