[PlayStation 5] The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak Review

by Ceidz, Owner

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak from NIS America and Nihon Falcom is the latest release in the long-running The Legends of Heroes/Kiseki franchise. Follow the adventures of Van Arkride the spriggan in this first game of the The Legend of Heroes in the Calvard region. Check our The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak review!

The spriggan known as Van Arkride is an underground professional that accepts work from any client and acts as a detective, negotiator, or bounty hunter with no allegiance. However, the course of his life will change forever when he takes on a strange case that threatens the entire nation. Slash your way through intense combat that springs to life with beautiful visuals, and craft your own gameplay experience in Calvard with features such as high-speed mode and a new alignment system!

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak is the newest entry in the The Legend of Heroes game franchise and the 14th game since the first Kiseki (Trails on the Sky). After a few games in the Liberl region (Trails in the Sky), then a series of four Trails of Cold Steel games in the Erebonian region, and a few others in the Crossbell area, we are now entering a new arc in the Calvard region.

Each sub-series – Trails in the Sky, Trails of Cold Steel, Trails from Zero, and now Trails from Daybreak – can be played independently from one another and take place in the same world, and share the same lore. The stories frequently reference events in some other games as the world is building up. As a gamer who has finished a little more than half of the whole Kiseki series, it’s always fun. This game is set in 1208, chronologically after the events of Trails of Cold Steel and Reverie. It can be played as a stand-alone title since this is the first of the Calvard sub-series.

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Van Akryde is a spriggan – a private detective – who takes contracts that the bracers or police will not take when said task’s legality is disputable. His first job will be finding a memento that belonged to her first client’s great-grandfather. Van will soon learn that this particular item has also been researched by other organizations and holds a secret that will drive this game story forward.

As a long-time player of the Trails of franchise – going all the way back to Trails in the Sky – I quickly noticed that this game’s battle system got a major overhaul from the previous games. Each standard battle will now begin as a real-time and combo-based battle, similar to an action RPG game. The trick here is it is only for easier battles, as you can only do standard attacks, which effectively increases the battle pace in dungeons.

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If you want to use Arts (magic) or Crafts (skills) – signature moves in the Trails of franchise – you’ll have to press the Square button in battle. The game then changes to a turn-based battle system like you’re used to. One thing that I didn’t like, however, is that the Craft menu is now further hidden in a sub-menu, and I missed it for the first hour of my game. As the Crafts is a central piece, I believe it should have been easily accessible – especially for new players who do not know how helpful those skills are.

As is the case with previous Cold Steel releases, you can now link players together to strengthen their attacks and benefit from link-specific skills. Instead of Cold Steel, where you’d “hard-link” two characters together, this time around, linking is done by characters’ proximity, meaning that you can move your characters and link with whomever you want in real time. Finally, there are event battles in which Van transforms thanks to a hidden power, which were reminiscent of when Rean in Cold Steel was in his overpowered mech form, and those battles were fun and changed the pace.

On the gameplay side, and as is the case with every other Trails of/Kiseki game, in between the (very) long story segments lasting between one to two hours each time, you’ll be doing tasks like fetch or kill quests or general Bracers-like tasks. Since Van operates in a grey area, and depending on the quests you take, his affinity with Law, Chaos, or Grey will shift. As you increase each meter, this will offer you the chance to get more quests on the area you’re improving as organizations will eventually want to hire you.

As is the case with every other recent Trails of game, you can save anywhere, which is great since some dungeons are lengthy. I also wanted to mention that the system menu went through a major overhaul in an attempt to look stylish like the Persona series, but once again, as a long-time fan of this franchise, I was not a huge fan of it. The menus used to be simple, and now navigating felt complex. Some basic menus (like using a healing art spell) were hidden in sub-menus that required some time to get used to.

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As a departure from previous entries, I was surprised to notice how Van speaks. The Trails of franchise used to be somewhat clean, but Van has a loose tongue and swears quite a lot, which was a surprise at first but adds character. The graphical engine is based on the previous game but noticeably upgraded. The character details still make this one look like a PlayStation 4 title, but extra effort has been put into clothes’ textures and facial expressions. Animations on their end still feel sub-par compared to other modern J-RPGs. The English voice acting is great for the main characters but sometimes feels off for secondary characters during events. As is often the case with this franchise, English and Japanese voiceovers are offered. As usual, the background soundtrack is as good as any other Nihon Falcom title, but the battle theme didn’t feel as catchy as earlier entries.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak is a pretty good JRPG featuring an action-oriented battle system that seamlessly switches to turn-based at the press of a button to get more control of your actions. Since this game marks the beginning of a new Trails of sub-series set in the Calvard area, it can be a good starting point for gamers looking to dive into the – intimidatingly – huge Trails of/Kiseki game series. The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak launches this Friday on PlayStation 5 with a $59.99 price tag.

This The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak review is based on a PlayStation copy provided by NIS America.

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