REVIEW – The Crossbell arc is one of the most popular and important threads of The Legend of Heroes series, telling the story of the small city-state and the struggles of its heroes in two games. Trails to Azure is the second and final installment of this epic story, in which members of the Special Support Squad must face not only enemies within and without, but also their own past and future.
Trails to Azure takes place immediately after the events of Trails from Zero, in which Lloyd Bannings and his partners solve their first big case and save Crossbell from a terrorist attack. However, the city-state is still in danger, as tensions between two great powers, the Erebonian Empire and the Calvard Republic, are running high, both seeking to influence or occupy Crossbell.
In addition, there are several mysterious organisations moving in the background with their own agendas for the city. And the Lloyds not only have to deal with them, but also with themselves, each with a dark secret or painful memory to resolve. The game has many exciting twists and turns, touching moments and humorous scenes as we get to know the characters and the world better.
Unique and varied gameplay
The gameplay in Trails to Azure is similar to the previous episode, but introduces several new features. The combat system is still a tactical RPG-based system, where characters can move around a grid-based map and use different abilities against enemies. New features include a Burst mode, in which each character can attack an opponent with a powerful strike at the same time; and a Back Attack feature, which allows you to surprise your opponent from behind and deal extra damage.
The game also lets you use your own car to get around Crossbell faster, and customise its looks and performance. The gameplay isn’t just combat, of course, but also lots of side missions, exploration and conversation. All of these contribute to getting to know the world and the characters better, and often provide a challenge or reward. The gameplay is therefore unique and varied, which keeps you interested and entertained.
Graphic world stuck in 2011
The graphics of Trails to Azure are not bad, but they are by no means modern or spectacular. The game was originally released for PSP in Japan in 2011, and while the PC version has improved textures, models and effects, it still falls short of today’s standards. Character facial expressions are stiff and out of sync with speech sounds, and the environments are often simple and repetitive.
But the game’s strength is its colourful and varied design, which fits in well with the mood of the world. The towns and villages are full of life and detail, and the outdoor locations show off Crossbell’s natural beauty beautifully. There are also some spectacular animations and effects during the battles, which liven up the combat. So the graphics are not the game’s strong point, but they’re not distractingly weak either.
The music will enchant you!
However, the music in Trails to Azure is excellent and adds a lot to the experience. The game’s music is varied and atmospheric, perfectly suited to the setting or event. Whether you’re walking in a bustling city, fighting in a dangerous cave or experiencing a touching moment, you can always hear a tune that will enhance your emotions.
The music includes both new compositions and old favourites that link the game to previous episodes. The sound effects are also appropriate and authentic, helping to immerse you in the game world. And the speech sounds are of high quality and well suited to the characters. The game is dubbed entirely in Japanese, which may not appeal to everyone, but I think it suits the anime-style graphics better.
A great RPG for all fans
In conclusion, Trails to Azure is a great RPG that is recommended for all fans. The story is exciting and emotional, the characters are likeable and evolving, the gameplay is varied and enjoyable, and the music is beautiful and atmospheric. The graphics are not very spectacular or modern, but that doesn’t spoil the experience. The game is also long enough to last 60-70 hours without getting bored.
Perhaps the only drawback is that the game is not suitable for beginners or those who haven’t played the previous episodes. Therefore, I recommend everyone to play Trails from Zero first, which is the first part of the Crossbell story. And if you are already familiar with the prequels, don’t hesitate to jump into Trails to Azure, because you won’t be disappointed.
+ Fascinating story and characters
+ Varied and enjoyable gameplay
+ Beautiful and atmospheric music
– Outdated and simple graphics
– Too long and slow finale
– Not suitable for beginners or without experience
Publisher: NIS America, Inc.
Developer: Nihon Falcom, PH3 GmbH
Style: RPG, JRPG
Release: March 14, 2023.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure
Gameplay - 8.4
Graphics - 6
Story - 8.5
Music/Audio - 8.4
Ambience - 8.2
The Legend of Heroes series' Crossbell thread comes to an end with Trails to Azure, in which members of the Special Support Squad face the dangers of the city-state and their own past. The gameplay is varied, the graphics are simple, but the music and story are excellent. Recommended for all RPG fans, although not recommended for beginners or those with no previous experience.
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