Reviews - Updated on October 9, 2022

The fact that we missed The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero in due time is both surprising and expected. Yes, this is one of the best games in the series of cult Japanese RPGs and, in principle, in the entire genre. But the problem is that all this time it did not go beyond Japan and China. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that a fan-made English translation by Geofront appeared. But the first official Western release in these 12 years happened just now. Why not talk about a game that is almost perfect for getting to know the genre?

police stories

I talked about what kind of series this is and why it is remarkable in the review of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III. And yes, Trails from Zero, the starting point for the “crossbale” arc, is perceived as a self-sufficient game, for immersion in which it is not necessary to know about the events of the first arc of the series dedicated to the Liberl region (Trails in the Sky), nor about what happened in subsequent arcs that told about the Empire of Erebonia and the Republic of Kalvard (subseries of Trails of Cold Steel and Kuro no Kiseki, respectively).

Of course, all events are connected in one way or another – the action takes place in a common world called Zemuria, many characters wander from one arc to another, there are references. And in general, it is desirable to know. But still not necessary.

Most importantly, the story in Trails from Zero is wildly interesting. On the one hand, this is a fairly typical rags-to-riches story. A young cop with a detective license, Lloyd Bennings, and his equally young colleagues Eli, Randy and Tio are actually turning from precinct officers who no one takes seriously into those who solve problems with the mafia and settle conflicts between rival gangs on the principle of “Shut up! “.

On the other hand, this story cannot be taken as typical. Too large scale and varied adventure. The youths, who were taken into the new Crossbell Police Department to respond to all the complaints and requests of the residents of Crossbell and increase the authority of the police, as a result, not only issue parking tickets and ensure order at the city festival, but also solve global problems. And those are not limited to showdowns with the mafia and bandits.

You will even have to join the art.

You will even have to join the art.

Crossbell’s location between the Empire of Erebonia and the Republic of Kalvard leads to a clash of interests, an increase in crime and other “joys” that we are dealing with. It is this combination of the global and the ordinary that captivates: yesterday we negotiated with the mafia, prevented the attempt on the mayor, and today we are looking for the missing doctor, who, as it turned out, went fishing and now offers to face off who will catch the larger fish. And tomorrow, new important events await – the search for a criminal who entered the city on a bus along with other tourists, or the hunt for an elusive hacker. And above all this, imperceptibly, but inevitably rises the unsolved murder of Brother Lloyd, who also served as a detective in the police.

Words and relationships

Here, in principle, you don’t know what to expect from the story and screenwriters next time. But you really want to know. The point is not only the variety of quests, but also how well the city itself is divided into many thematic areas (port, administration, entertainment district, Chinatown and much more), and its inhabitants, each of which has an interesting story , and the main characters of this whole performance.

Lloyd, Eli, Tio, Randy – each has its own character and backstory. And if we learn about the death of the brother of the protagonist at the very beginning, then I found out that the other member of the group also knew this same brother, somewhere after 30 hours in this epic game. There are also unexpected facts in the biography of the joker Randy, who does not miss a single skirt, and even more so in the story of Eli, who turned out to be, let’s say, with connections.

Lloyd also occasionally meets people who remind him of the past, of his personal life, of his brother. For example, the beautiful nurse Cecilia and her friend, no less charming dancer. Both naturally drive Randy crazy. And both begin to make such hints about a possible relationship between the main character and other girls in the group that not only all the characters blush, but also the player. Although there is something charming and endearing about the way everyone involved reacts to it and the overall situation.

The girls are all right here.

The girls are all right here.

Of course, from time to time it seems that the relationship between the characters lacks the spice, pepper, romance and showdowns that we saw, for example, in Dragon Age. But, firstly, in this sense, the series has its own style and rhythm. Secondly, the situation is gradually changing. More details appear, greetings from the past and those same heart-to-heart conversations, like a conversation with Tio about brother Lloyd. At some points, we even need to make a choice between partners, which also affects relations with them and brings closer the opportunity to see a personal event associated with a particular character.

In quests, Lloyd periodically needs to show intuition and apply deduction – we are offered to choose which of the suspects is a criminal, or, for example, decide whether he is acting alone or not. But, as a rule, the answer does not matter – even if we have incorrectly defined something, partners and screenwriters will lead us to the right track. This, probably, can be attributed to the minuses, although I only welcome the fact that there is a choice in the Japanese RPG.

The same can be said about the abundance of dialogues and texts in principle. On the one hand, they are all well written – and now you can read everything in the official English translation (we took the fan-made localization as the basis, but improved it).

The fact that the characters discuss and communicate everything in detail, and Eli, having seen a vending machine, can tell for a long time which corporation it belongs to and how it is connected with what is happening in Crossbell and its economy, adds depth to the lore, makes you believe in this world even more. But somewhere in the third ten hours of the game, you start to get tired of the fact that the characters often say obvious things. So you also have to skip dialogues, since the game has a convenient and detailed log that thoroughly describes each quest.

Another thing is that, even knowing what is required of us, in some cases you can not guess about the need not only to patrol all the corridors in the theater, but to talk to everyone you meet. Or once it was. I was told to chat with specific characters, I did it, but the script didn’t work. As it turned out, it was still necessary to find a narrow, inconspicuous passage leading from the hotel – only then the next scene would start.

Difficult, fast, convenient

However, all this can be called minor shortcomings. But in general, Trails from Zero is just a very understandable game – and this does not happen so often with JRPGs. I already said about the convenient quest log. And there is also an extremely useful, given the size of the game, the function of accelerating everything and everything – dialogues, movements, animations in battles.

All the necessary shops are very conveniently located – in the same block with the base of the detachment. And the assortment there changes with the beginning of each story chapter – we immediately see new weapons for each character and new equipment. This eliminates the need for long hours of shopping.

And most importantly, the combat system is convenient and understandable. It includes the use of an “orbmeter”, where we insert “quartz” found or crafted from the collected resources – their combination allows you to use elemental attack or support spells. Slots for them need to be opened and pumped. In addition, there are so-called crafting skills that consume crafting points accumulated in battles. Each character unlocks new skills as they level up, including particularly powerful “ults” and dual combo attacks.

In the accelerated mode, many fights go very quickly.

So, compared to later games, the combat system in Trails from Zero is more tactically capacious and at the same time accessible. The convenience lies in the presence of automatic counterattacks if the enemy missed your fighter, and the activation of a powerful combo by the whole squad if you caught the enemy by surprise and stunned from behind. And tactical capacity – in the need to carefully approach the selection of quartz and related spells.

Many opponents, not to mention the bosses, offer resistance, but there is no particular sadomasochism and the need for a killer grind. The main thing is to correctly use the available opportunities (especially ults and combos), hit enemies with what they are more vulnerable to, and move the fighters correctly. I played hard and just tried to complete all the combat missions, clear all the quest roads and dungeons, buy the most powerful equipment – and my wards coped with all the difficulties without much grinding.

You cannot change the difficulty level during the game, so choose carefully.

You cannot change the difficulty level during the game, so choose carefully.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero is good for almost everyone. A well-developed world, plot, quests, dialogues and characters, interesting and difficult battles, coupled with smartly chosen music and technically outdated, but still pleasant graphics, create the feeling that you are back in those days when the trees were taller, the grass was greener, and the games – better and more interesting.

Pros: captivating and epic storyline; developed characters; convenient and at the same time deep gameplay; many interesting and varied quests; nice graphics; great music; the long-awaited official translation into English.

Cons: the volume of dialogues and text in places begins to tire; not in all quests it is clear what the authors want from us.

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