Originally posted December 06 2015 on the Seafoam Gaming forums
Thanks to XSeed Games for the review code.
Title: The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter (SC)
System: Playstation Portable, Playstation Vita/TV
Release date: 10/29/2015
The main game/story
The long awaited translation to the second part of Trails in the Sky, XSeed brings over Nihon Falcom’s cult classic, completing the story that began in 2011 here in the states! Was it worth the four year wait to see where this epic adventure leads to next?
Being the Second Chapter of the story, the gameplay is essentially the same as the first chapter, with the story taking place shortly after FC’s ending. Not long after the team’s victory in the previous installment, the main protagonist Estelle wakes up and discovers that her close ally Joshua went on his own journey without warning. With some mysterious events going on and hidden motives being uncovered, Estelle and friends set more about the strange events that are influencing their world…
Essentially all of the visuals are carried over from the First Chapter, making the environments and characters look just as crisp as they did in that game. In other words, if you were fine with the visuals in the first installment, you should feel right at home with how Second Chapter is presented. Considering the timeframe in which this game originally came out in Japan, the sprites look very impressive, and thankfully they hold up well to this day.
Music and Sound:
Similar to the visuals, a few themes from First Chapter are carried over to the sequel, and they sound just as excellent as they did in the first. Of course there’s also a nice variety of new tracks exclusive to SC, nearly all of which sound fantastic thanks to the amazing composition made by Falcom Sound Team. Seriously, even if RPGs aren’t your cup of tea, you really do owe it to yourself to buy the soundtrack off of iTunes, as it’s definitely worth the buy even if you have no interest in the game itself. From the energetic battle themes, to the wide variety of new and returning tracks from First Chapter, this is an OST not to be missed, and definitely has that Falcom quality to it.
The gameplay is pretty much the same as it was in First Chapter, so you’ll feel right at home if you went ahead and completed that game already, but for those who either don’t remember how the game plays, or for those considering starting off with this game, the gameplay is rather standard for the genre. You explore the numerous areas in the game in order to complete objectives to move the story along, and running into an enemy on the field will engage a battle sequence.
In Trails in the Sky, battles play out on a grid, where you can then command your characters to either use a basic attack to deal a decent amount of damage, special magic attacks which use up EP, or powerful Craft attacks that use up Craft Points (or CP for short). While the first two options are pretty standard for the genre, the Craft Points are what make Trails in the Sky stand out a bit from the competition. Whenever you deal or take damage, your CP meter increases, and depending on how high it is, the more special moves you can pull off, including powerful S-Craft attacks unique to each character! There’s even a new Chain Craft attack, which allows you and your allies to work together to attack an enemy at the same time, at the cost of having your ally use up their turn while doing so.
All of this seems standard for the RPG genre, and while admittedly the Craft system has been seen in similar ways in other RPGs, Trails in the Sky also has an emphasis on customizing your own movesets. You see, enemies drop materials known as Sepith, which can be converted into items called Quartz. Using these quarts in your equipment menu, you can change the moveset for each character depending on the element on the Quartz, which can also change their stats a little bit. However you can’t just throw them wherever you feel like it, as some characters have slots that only accept quartz of a certain element, which manages to keep the characters from not feeling the same, while also giving them the option to have a nice variety of moves if the player plans things out correctly.
The moveset for each characters can vary from having a party member with lots of support moves, to a party member with attack moves that can cover most of the elements. Besides the interesting feature of basically building your own character using the Quartz system, this really is your standard RPG, with turn based battles, managing your stats wisely, defeating enemies and progressing the story along. There’s nothing overly complicated here, which makes the Trails in the Sky duo great for any RPG fan to jump into, while rewarding players who use the Quartz system skillfully. Likewise Second Chapter barely changes the gameplay from the original, meaning that if you enjoyed the gameplay in First Chapter, then you’ll no doubt enjoy the gameplay in Second Chapter.
In conclusion, Trails in the Sky SC is a great sequel to an amazing game, with pretty much all that made the original great left intact, with some minor tweaks made to improve the experience. It’s clear the translation team worked very, very hard on this game, and while it may be odd to have a translation nine years in the making, trust me when I say that its well done and is absolutely worth the wait.
That being said, if you never completed First Chapter, (which unfortunately, I’m guilty of) you really should go buy pick that up first and beat it before you play this game, as you’ll be able to transfer your clear file over to SC along with the fact that you’ll understand a lot more of the story. Still, even if you want to jump straight to the Second Chapter for whatever reason, you’ll still find a very enjoyable game, with addicting gameplay and an engaging story that recaps the events of the prior installment just enough to help you make sense of what is going on.
It’s true that in Japan there was yet another sequel to this game, known as The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Third Chapter. You may be slightly worried that this game would end on another cliffhanger requiring yet another long wait for a translation to wrap things up. Luckily I can assure you that Third Chapter is an epilogue to the events of First and Second Chapter, meaning that you really don’t need to play Third Chapter in order to tie up any loose ends you see in this game.
If you enjoyed the first game and were eagerly awaiting the sequel, you probably already own this game as you read this review, but if for some reason you’re still on the fence, or if you are waiting for confirmation of a Third Chapter localization before you pick this up, then you really should go ahead and buy the game, as the game is still a lot of fun and the translation team really needs the support for their hard work in translating the last part of this story into english.
With a great story, fun gameplay and a lot of content, Second Chapter is definitely worth picking up for RPG fans or fans wanting to pick up where the first game left off. That being said, I do think for the sake of understanding events better, you really should start with First Chapter before you give this game a try! I give The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC an 8 out of 10.