Falcom’s Legend of Heroes is one of Japan’s most popular RPGs, but (because of lack of an English translation) almost didn’t make it to the West, almost. XSeed localized the first two games of the franchise a couple of years ago, and thanks to a warm reception on Steam and GOG, the third chapter was also translated and came out just a week ago.
In my opinion, it’s the story that makes JRPGs so special, more than the combat. Trails in the Sky trilogy is no exception and in addition to an entrancing story, has a cast of unforgettable characters. The 3rd Chapter brings back all of them the from the previous games and also introduces a handful of new ones, and puts them together in this chimerical realm called Phantasia.
Now, there is no dearth of mysterious characters (with dark secrets) in the the Trails games, and in this one the bright spotlight falls on them as they struggle to make peace with their past. Unlike the first two titles, this one has a much more mature tone, with different protagonists in the form of Father Kevin Graham and his childhood companion Ries. There is a lot more to Kevin’s story than he lets on, and it ain’t pretty.
This game is full of doors (Star, Sun & Moon), that serve as side-quests. They shed some light on the events leading up to the premise of the game, in addition to providing some key info about some of the more shady characters. Apart from that they also offer chunks of memories (of various personalities) from the past and also some activities like fishing and arena-battles. These “memories” are so immersive that at times you forget all about Phantasia, that’s how well they are written. Hell, the main plot pales in comparison to it. And I’ll admit that the main story feels a bit too stretched and unnecessarily prolonged at times. But then again, most games nowadays have dull-to-boring side-quests, so I guess I’ll call it even. The main story feels like a board game, where you are rewarded with a familiar face from the past, on clearing an area or level. You have a total of 16 party members by the end, and one particular member (Kevin mostly) is mandatory for the story.
Gameplay and Combat
The gameplay is more or less identical to that in the 2nd Chapter. All the characters retain their S-breaks and crafts and also get “true” or “superior” versions, except Kevin who gets a couple of band new ones which prove to be extremely handy in the second half of the game. As for the difficulties, the 3rd chapter has four levels, easy for “wet-noodles”, normal for everyone, hard for experienced players and nightmare for the insane. The combat feels the same, challenging and brutal at first but then once you get the hang of it, gets easier.
Phantasia has really unique and exquisite looking areas and the same goes for the enemies. They seem to be straight out of a bad dream. Another thing that caught my eye is the frame-rate. Everything is rendered in silky-smooth 60 fps, even the cut-scenes which is rare even for AAA titles. This is a welcome surprise. It really does make a huge difference. Also, the visuals and the font seem vastly superior to the original ones, plus the game scales really well at higher resolutions like 4K, with crystal-clear text. Lastly, the battle music and the soundtrack are so good they just get in your head.
Wonderful characters, immersive story, challenging combat and a great soundtrack. Add HD visuals and 60 fps to that list, and it’s a complete package. The 3rd chapter of the beloved Sora no Kiseki, or Trails in the Sky franchise gives a rousing send-off to the characters and is a fitting conclusion to the story.
Great side-stories and characters.
Soundtrack and battle-music.
60 fps and 4K scaling.
Magical World and Atmosphere.
Main story feels a bit exaggerated.