As a lover of the series The Legend of HeroesI can only exclaim “finally!”. Trails from Zero arrives outside the Japanese territory, with this version remastered in HD and which also adds more quality of life to the original title released in the land of the rising sun in 2010.
This long-running series is known to fans of the genre mainly for its own worldbuildingtogether with memorable stories and cast of the same calibration. The peculiarity of these titles is above all that of, in addition to offering deep and intriguing JRPG mechanics, share the same game world and the same events that have marked it.
It begins in 2004 with Trails in the Sky (I omit The Legend of Heroes for convenience), and its next two chapters, Trails in the Sky SC (second chapter) e Trails in the Sky the 3rdwhich together form the narrative arc of Liberl, and then move on to that of Erebonia, with the four chapters of the series Trails of Cold Steel. These seven titles were also the only ones available in Europe to date, but fortunately, things are changing.
Trails from Zero is the first of the two chapters that will form the narrative arc of Crossbelland in the timeline of the series will take place simultaneously with the first two chapters of Trails of Cold Steel. If you haven’t played them yet, know that there is no real order for these 4 titles, but ultimately, Trails of Azure (second game of Crossbell’s arc) spoilers more Trails of Cold Steel II than vice versa.
Trails from Zero: the beginning for Lloyd Bannings
In this new chapter we will take on the role of the new detective Lloyd Banningsa native of the city state of Crossbellon his return after almost three years spent in the republic of Calvard. As soon as he shows up at his place of work, Lloyd learns that he has been assigned (for no apparent reason) to a branch of the Crossbell police born in those days, the Special Support Section or SSS.
Reluctant at first, Lloyd meets his new colleagues, Elie, Tio, Randy and the boss Sergei. After a brief initial mission, the four are made aware that nobody believes in this new SSS projectborn above all to move the consent of the people towards the police, but clearly in favor of the guild of Bracers, and which will probably be dismantled shortly. The four also get the chance to forgo that assignment in favor of another probably better one.
After spending the evening dealing with his likely new colleagues, who have already decided to accept the role in the SSS each for their own reasons, Lloyd decides to stay too. From here begins a slow-moving story full of exciting events and fantastic characters.
Storytelling is definitely the strong point of Trails from Zero, as it was for all the other chapters. As you advance in history, you will feel more and more part of that world, of that city-state, Crossbell, as technologically advanced as it is full of mysteries, groups that plot in the shadows and various personalities, which hide something that goes far beyond political or territorial feuds.
The city-state of Crossbell
The city that is the backdrop to Trails from Zero, can be considered to all intents and purposes one of the protagonists of the game. Thanks to a worldbuilding treated in a maniacal and credible wayif you have played the other chapters you will know how its position, perfectly on the border between two warring factions to grab it (the empire of Erebonia and the republic of Calvard), is not among the quietest, even if apparently Crossbell it is experiencing a huge economic and technological boom, perhaps even too sudden to be considered normal.
Police no longer has the confidence of citizens, negligent about their duties and there are many rumors of corrupt members, while the CGF (Crossbell Guardian Force) is fully committed to the borders to avoid invasions by warring parties. This has done that two large criminal factions have taken root in the city-state, close to unleashing in turn a war for territorial domination. Fortunately also a Crossbell there is a section of the bracers guild, fighters and adventurers always in defense of the people. From now on, however, there will also be the SSS by Lloyd and companions.
Many factions and many characters, many of which will be memorable. In fact, one of the strengths that accompanies the wonderful storytelling in Trails from Zero, is the superb characterization of this diverse cast of individuals, some of which will be able to be epic even if they are not among the playable characters or among the villains of the title; this is another factor that unites the titles of the series The Legend of Heroes.
Trails from Zero, deep mechanics
If a narrative such as few has been seen is not enough, Trail from Zero adds a component of deep and tactical gameplay, which can make the player indulge as he sees fit. The title is a JRPG with isometric view and turn-based combat, with monsters on the map without random encounters. If we come into contact with the enemy, the fight will begin. Touching it behind we will have a bonus that will make us act sooneralways hitting him from behind instead, in addition to the bonus mentioned above, we will also have 100% critical hit on our turn.
The shifts are scanned by the speed parameter of the unitsand when it’s time to act, each of our characters will have different actions available:
- Movement: allows you to move a few squares, to respect the range of your attacks or avoid enemy ones;
- Attack: classic shot with the supplied weapon, useful for accumulate CP (craft points);
- Craft: personal moves of each character that require CP to be used and also have different effects such as slow down the enemybonuses to allies and more;
- Arts: making it simple, the magical arts in Trails from Zerowith offensive, defensive, debilitating or supportive effects;
- Item: allows to use objects with different effects from your own inventory;
- Escape: Try to escape from combat.
If in Trails From Zero the Craft are exclusive and pre-established for each character, on the contrary with the Arts we can indulge ourselves. Each of our characters will be equipped with a technological equipment that will allow them to equip several Quartz, of the special gems that, in addition to modify their statisticswill also establish the Arts that character will have available in combat.
Sure, there will be the character naturally more or less brought into different fields, but this mechanic allows a Trails from Zero to offer a high strategic depthmaking sure that even the magician on duty can also be a Tank, perhaps evasive, basing its survival on dodging rather than defense.
In the later stages of the game, we will have equipment and Quartz available that will allow us to put in place really interesting and rewarding buildslike the one just mentioned of the evasive tank that can only be hit by a few attacks, or the glass cannon wizard, with unimaginable damage from Arts.
Accumulate 100 CP each character will be able to take advantage of his very powerful move called S-Craft, which doubles in power if the accumulated CP will be 200; But be careful that using it will totally empty the CP reserve. Trails from Zero will also offer challenging battles, but which will be able to give satisfaction once overcome. However, the game also meets those who are not accustomed to the game genre, offering different levels of difficulty.
In addition to the Quartz mentioned before, each character will be able to improve their characteristics through weapons always better, two pieces of equipment (torso and legs) and two accessories.
For lovers of completists, Trails from Zero offers tons of side activitieslike missions that, even if simple, will always help learn more about the beautiful game worldtogether with a cooking recipe book to be completed by finding the various recipes, books to collect and read to learn about events and myths, and a section dedicated to fishing to be filled through a minigame.
Trails from Zero, remastered
In addition to original graphics repurposed in HDwhich does its duty resulting enjoyable and very pleasant, Trails from Zero also offers great soundtrack, with more than one song that will not struggle to stay in the minds of the players. Again with regard to the sound part, the title offers a unique one audio dubbing in the original language. Unfortunately, the localization in Italian is missing, and given the amount of dialogues present in Trails from Zero, it could be a heavy problem for those unfamiliar with the English language.
The gameplay is very addicting, and the good freedom of customization of your team increases it strategic depth. The rest, as said several times, does the worldbuilding, that in Trails from Zero it will become deeper and more complex as we advance in the story, making us cheer for Lloyd and his companions, but also for secondary characters in the plot, some of which will be memorable.
Other improvements of this remastered are the implementation of the autosave functionthe power speed up the fighting but also the movements on the map, and the ability to skip some animations of the battles, thus making farming very little heavy.
A must have for all fans of the JRPG genre, which will make you want to play all the chapters of the series.