Author Topic: Trails in the Sky (Vita, PC, PSP)  (Read 264 times)

Trails in the Sky (Vita, PC, PSP)
« on: March 11, 2016, 08:17:49 PM »
Reasons for this thread:
  • Great JRPGs that were overlooked/unavailable for a really long time
  • More in the series just announced for localisation (see the bottom)
  • Both parts of Trails in the Sky are currently on sale for a week on PSN/Steam/GoG/Humble/Everywhere

Ok, so. Here we have two of the best JRPGs ever made. They're older games (released around 10 years ago in Japan), but the second only came out in the West late last year[nb]The sheer amount of effort and setbacks that were involved in the localisation of TitS SC is a story in itself, recapped fairly well here: http://kotaku.com/the-curse-of-kiseki-how-one-of-japans-biggest-rpgs-bar-1740055631[/nb]. GoG Galaxy tells me it took me 41 hrs to beat the first, and 64 for the second, though neither were quite 100% runs. Be warned if you do want to get 100%, following along with a guide is almost mandatory as there are hidden quests, quests with specific time-frames and secret books to collect everywhere , some of which you just wont find without either being told or being reallllly thorough.

Trails Second Chapter is a direct sequel to Trails in the Sky and so you really have to play the first one first. Combined they make a complete story, and are both among the best-written localisations I've ever played. They both have near-identical systems and graphics, so don't even think twice, just grab the first one first. Seriously.

They carry some incredibly coherent characterisation and simply charming world-building. Each town has a healthy population of NPCs almost all of which are individually named and have relationships, lives and their own problems or fun personalities. What's more, after every story beat, they all get new dialogue, and you'll find yourself wanting to go around talking to the NPCs and shopkeepers between major tasks just to see what they've got to say. The world has a very well fleshed-out sense of place and history, but it's never po-faced like a lot of western RPGs can be and always has a sense of fun.

The combat is a cross between standard turn-based systems and strategy, with the ability to move around the field and most attacks, especially magic, having an AoE. It's not the deepest system in the world, but it's pretty healthy and I found it engaging. Also you don't have to worry about grinding as exp is reduced as you go up in level, meaning after a point you're about as high as you need to be. Also this means characters that might get under-levelled will catch up relatively quickly due to the bonus they get. There's a materia-style system of equipping 'quartz' that govern both skills and stats, but each character tends to have things they naturally excel at and so you wind up pushing that really.

The most polarising thing about all the Trails games seems to be the story-telling. Now, the writing, as I mentioned, is imo consistently excellent, and there's a really great and exciting story to play through here, especially in SC. But. It's also a -very- slow burn. Now I don't see this as a problem, but you should probably be aware that for the vast majority of the entire first game, the goal is really just to travel the country, solve some big issue in each major city, see all the different characters etc and train up Estelle and Joshua so they can become Bracers. A bracer's a bit like a Witcher in that they just kinda go around solving people's problems but are unaffiliated with the military and also a functioning organisation. Towards the end of the first game things really start to ramp up but a huge part of it is relatively chilled-out world building. The thing is it's a really great world, and the story-telling is designed to show you exactly what's so great about it while things are good, such that the stakes feel even higher when shit starts to go down. Some people will declare this is boring because it's not an intergalactic war within the first 5 hours, but if you go in expecting a relaxing light-hearted time for a long time and are willing to get invested (easily done with this cast) then by the time FC wraps up you'll be stoked to continue into SC, revisit old places, uncover deep secrets and re-immerse into the land of Liberl. I'm not kidding when I say that one of my highlights of both games was seeing who would win a mayoral election in one of the cities, despite the player characters having no real involvement in the result.

If you like a good, heartwarming story, excellently written, well-delivered and deliberately paced, you cannot do better.



Now, (Trails in the Sky + SC) form a coherent whole. There's also Trails of Cold Steel, set in the same world but a different country and a year or so after the events of SC, the first of which came out on PS3/Vita late last year and the second of which just today got an Autumn window release date on the same systems.  Inbetween SC and CS, there's a third Sky game that acts kindof like an epilogue and to set up later events in the whole sage. There's also *another* pair of games that never left Japan, but with the announcement today that Sky part 3 *will* in fact be releasing over here in 2017 (sadly only on PC, but sure, w/e), potentially those just got a lot more likely.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2016, 08:32:13 PM by brat-sampson »

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Re: Trails in the Sky (Vita, PC, PSP)
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2016, 09:36:50 PM »
It's not a tactical RPG that takes forever to play is it? Like Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Orge? I've been prejudiced it's one of those and never really looked into it. I am tempted to just jump, though, and that latest pair seems as good as anywhere.

Re: Trails in the Sky (Vita, PC, PSP)
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2016, 09:50:52 PM »
No no, not at all. Regular JRPG, just the encounters play out on a grid so there's a minimal amount of aiming/positioning. Otherwise it just feels like a Persona/final fantasy-style. Wandering monsters visible in the world, attack from behind for advantage, that kinda thing. It's turn based like FFX is turn based, i.e. boosting speed/delaying enemies is a good idea, not as in 'your/enemy turn' for like half an hour.

Also, I didn't mention, but I loved the PC controls. It feels great to control with the mouse, just holding down the button in the direction you want to run, and the curser snaps to the right place in menus or on enemies. It feels really nice.