The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC

Over a decade has passed since Nihon Falcom developed and published the PC RPG The Legend of Heroes VI: Trails in the Sky, successor to the Gagharv Trilogy, which saw English release in a different order other than chronologically, accounting for misnomers in their localized titles. The sixth entry would see release two years later in Japan on the PlayStation Portable, although neither title would see English release for years, with XSEED translating the PSP version for the system towards the end of the system’s lifecycle, and following with the localization of the PC version nearly a decade after its original release in Nihon.

The game, however, proved to be only the first chapter of the sixth entry’s three parts, and was itself a fairly lengthy game even without sidequests, the second chapter, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC, seeing English release on the PSP and PC in 2015, and providing an experience pretty much on par with its predecessor. The battle system, for instance, is mostly unchanged from the first game, with visible monsters on fields, in connecting tunnels, and in dungeons, a turn-based tactical aspect with regards to battlefields and character location, and proportional character leveling, a godsend given potential difficulty otherwise in leveling weaker characters and the larger playable cast of the sequel.

New to the Second Chapter is combination attacks utilizing Craft Points, although most players will probably find more efficient the use of characters’ individual commands. The encounter system is still a step down from that in the Gagharv Trilogy where monsters fled from the player’s party if weaker, and there are occasional bosses that can be frustrating, although in a few cases, outfitting characters with status ailment protection said bosses tend to spam can really help. Even so, the difficulty, despite being selectable from the get-go from easier to harder settings, can be inconsistent, with this reviewer, for instance, beating the absolute final bosses in his first attempt. Still, the tactical battle system proves a boon to the game.

Although the sequel like its predecessor allows players to save their game anywhere except in the middle of battle, there are still occasional problems. For instance, a soft reset would have been welcome given the cheapness of certain regular enemies late in the game, with players thus needing to end their game with Windows’s Task Manager and restart, hoping the same cheapness won’t ensue again. There is also occasional lack of clarity with in-game direction on how to advance the main storylines, and certain puzzles in the final chapter that might drive players to utilize a walkthrough to avert superfluous gameplay. The game menus and general controls, however, are largely tidy, although the issues mentioned could have been addressed.

The narrative is generally enjoyable, although one will have to have played the First Chapter, and especially remember what happened during the original game, since the Second Chapter doesn’t include any kind of synopsizing of its predecessor’s storyline, and there is the above issue of sometimes poor direction on how to continue the chief plotline. XSEED’s translation, however, is definitely above average in spite of some minor errors in the text, and overall, the plot helps the sequel more than hurts.

The soundtrack is largely the same as it was in the First Chapter in spite of some original tracks, not a bad thing, and the voicework restricted to battles doesn’t detract in spite of some occasional and insulting whining and crying by the playable characters when they lose all HP and die.

Also identical is the visual style, also a good thing in most respects, with character sprites that have cartoonish anatomy and gorgeous scenery, although the sprites don’t show emotion during cutscenes, with their character portraits in dialogue boxes picking up the slack, alongside plenty of graphical stuttering and choppiness during the experience.

Finally, the sequel takes a little over thirty hours to complete with a straightforward playthrough, although things such as acquiring every trophy enhancing replay value.

In the end, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC is for the most part a solid continuation of its predecessor, given things such as its solid tactical battle system, an always-welcome save anywhere feature oddly absent from most Japanese RPGs, a superb localization effort, an enjoyable soundtrack, and nice visuals. It does have things going against it, such as the occasional cheap boss, no soft reset, some parts being difficult without use of a walkthrough, some recycling with regards to the soundtrack and visuals, which have the added detriment of stuttering, and the need to really remember the first game’s plot to fully appreciate the second’s. Even so, those who liked the First Chapter will very likely enjoy the Second.

This review is based on a playthrough of a copy downloaded through Steam.

The Good:
+Solid tactical battle system.
+Save-anywhere feature.
+Strong localization.
+Great soundtrack.
+Good graphics.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Some cheap bosses.
-No soft reset.
-A few parts difficult without a guide.
-Absolutely requires remembering events of first game.
-A little recycled music.
-Occasional graphical stuttering.

The Bottom Line:
If you played and liked the first game, you’ll enjoy its sequel.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PC
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 6/10
Story: 7/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: 30-60 Hours

Overall: 8.5/10

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