Review by Calamity
Reviewed: 05/19/17 | Updated: 05/22/17
The pinnacle of the Trails in the Sky trilogy
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd Review
The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky the 3rd is the final game of the Trails in the Sky game trilogy. This third game of the trilogy actually does not serve as an ending to the first two games though. It's actually more of it's own story that has several character and story plotlines that continue into future games of the series. That being said, it is still an excellent game. It's definitely one of my favorite games I've played in a long time. Now one of the biggest changes to the 3rd is that the game has more of a dungeon crawling aspect to it. Trails in the Sky the 3rd takes place in the World of Phantasma instead of the world of Zemuria like the previous two games of the trilogy.
Phantasma is a world of illusion that draws upon its inhabitant's memories to recreate places and events from their pasts. One of the great things about exploring this world is that a lot of the dungeons now have maps. In the previous two games of the trilogy, many dungeons did not have maps and that made getting lost in the dungeons easy because paths often looked identical to each other. Fortunately now though, you can navigate through dungeons more smoothly thanks to the map. Battles in the 3rd like it's two predecessors happen by running into enemies. If you run into an enemy from behind you gain an advantage in battle, but the opposite happens if the enemy runs into you from behind. Combat in the game is turn based.
You can attack with physical attacks, use arts which are magic spells or use crafts which are skills exclusive to each character that they learn by leveling up. There's also S Crafts which are limit break super attacks that do a lot of damage and often are incredibly cool attacks. On the left side of the screen you can see both your allies and enemies turns and in what order they'll get their turns. Once you win a fight, you gain EXP and Sepith. Acquire enough EXP and your characters will level making them stronger. There's also the other thing I mentioned which is Sepith. Sepith meanwhile is a currency you can trade at stores to craft orbments which give you different magic spells. In this game, you can have four party members in your party total. However, there is 16 total characters you get in the game whom you can use in battles. Each character gets different pros/cons and drastically different abilities from each other and as a result, there is an insane amount of customization in the game. The structure of the game is that more of a dungeon crawler as mentioned before.
In this game you have a hub world known as the Garden which is where you can buy items, speak with characters, heal and do various other things. Then the rest of the game the dungeon crawling aspects is done in what are called planes. Planes are different dimensions shaped by memories that you go to. In planes you'll be doing the battling. There are seven planes in total you travel through before the finale of the game. While exploring, you can save anywhere in the game. Healing isn't done like in most traditional RPG's where you go to an inn to fully recover. Instead, you'll find stone monuments in dungeons that you can examine to heal your party or buy items. An excellent thing about traveling in the 3rd is you have fast travel. So you can click on a list of destinations and fast travel back to somewhere hence removing tons of annoying backtracking and making traveling to previously explored areas quick. There's also one more thing to talk about when it comes to the game's structure. Many of the game's major plot events happen in what are called doors.
There are three types of doors you'll come across in the game while exploring. Sun, Moon and Star doors. Sun doors contain minigames, Moon Doors generally have long character stories that really develop characters and have you exploring their pasts. Meanwhile, star doors are shorter versions of moon doors. The doors are some of the best parts of this game. The writing in this game is incredibly good and XSeed did a great job translating this game. They can be pretty long though with some of them taking an hour or longer to finish, What's also great is that there are several doors in the game to complete. Doing them is definitely worth it though as they contain excellent scenes that further develop the characters of the trails in the sky series. Not only do they provide great character development, but they start many plotlines that future games in the trails series like Trails of Cold Steel and the Crossbell games tie into. Outside of the doors, the game has a main plot for the world of Phantasma.
In Trails in the Sky the 3rd you play as Kevin Graham. A priest working for the Septian church who is a dominion. Dominions being knights of the church who are incredibly powerful and who protect and preserve ancient artifacts that have supernatural powers from falling into the wrong hands. He is accompanied by a nun named Ries whom is a friend of his from the past. She loves eating food and her love of food leads to some pretty hilarious moments in the story. The two of them while on a mission end up inside of the world of Phantasma.
There they meet the Lord of Phantasma who seems to be someone Kevin knows. Kevin and Ries then explore Phantasma to try and stop the Lord of Phantasma while trying to also figure out how to leave Phantasma since they are stuck there. As they get further and further into Phantasma Kevin's past slowly comes to light. His normally happy and calm facade he puts on to hide his emotions slowly begins to crack and his true thoughts begin to be shown. You'll learn more and more about Kevin's past that torments him as you get further into the game. In addition, as I mentioned before you'll also learn a lot about other characters in the game through the doors being able to see into their lives and see different events that happened with them.
While the world building aspect from Sky 1/2 are gone Trails 3rd's powerful character driven story still manages to succeed incredibly well. Compared to its predecessors, Trails the 3rd has a staggering amount of character growth that happens with it's cast and with NPC characters in its story. Do not be mistaken that because of the dungeon crawling aspect the story is minimal. The story is still VERY much there. There's only one real negative I personally have with the story.
My negative with the story would have to be that the plot twists are too predictable. I easily guessed who the Lord of Phantasma was pretty early in the game around chapter 3 or so out of 8 chapters in the game. Despite that, the plot twists are still interesting and despite some of them not really surprising me I still found them interesting when they were officially revealed. I think that's enough talking about the story though I want to talk about the difficulty and length of the game.
In terms of difficulty, you have four difficulty options. Easy, Normal, Hard and Nightmare. I played the game on normal and felt normal was well balanced. The game was fairly challenging and the bosses especially put up a good fight. Boss fights in 3rd are really well designed with bosses really requiring careful character positioning, smart tactics and great strategies to overcome. Some bosses you'll fight and they have minions that reflect certain attacks. Sometimes bosses will do attacks they charge up that you have to interrupt before they unleash them and do high damage to your party. There's also bosses who will inflict status effects or weaken your stats to destroy you. I got game over a few times in the game at some of the really challenging boss fights. That all being mentioned though, there's some really overpowered tricks in the game and some overpowered characters in the game that can make the game a lot easier. For me though, overall I wouldn't say there wasn't a really extremely hard part of the game I got stuck on for a long time on Normal difficulty.
If you're seeking a major challenge though don't feel afraid to bump the game to Hard or Nightmare difficulty. In terms of length, this game is easily 40 hours or longer. 40 hours or so is if you rush through the main story doing very few of the doors on normal. However, if you do all the optional door sidequests then the game could very well be over 60 hours and many of the doors like I've mentioned are great sidequests and well worth doing. The gameplay is incredibly fun overall and this was one of those RPG's I could play for hours and hours without getting bored. Last, I want to talk about graphics and music.
Graphics in the 3rd are mostly the same as the first and second Trails in the Sky. The game has the same sprite-based art style. There's some cool supernatural areas in the game, but a lot of reused assets. Entire areas from the previous two games of the trilogy are used again and so are many characters and enemy types. The graphics themselves aren't anything that are particularly head turning or super impressive for it's time or by today's standards, but they are quite nice. Graphics are minor to me though compared to story and gameplay. Then there's music.
This game's soundtrack is incredible. There are several great piano pieces and some really incredible battle and boss fight themes in the game. Sky 3rd has some really amazing area themes too that make you excited to explore the areas of the game and get you really pumped to play the game more and more. I would go as far as to say it's one of the developer Falcom's strongest game soundtracks. A lot of the songs are just stunningly well composed and fit the parts of the game they play in perfectly well.
Overall: Trails in the Sky 3rd is definitely one of my favorite games I played through in a long time. It's my favorite of the Sky trilogy and I had a blast playing it. There's some flaws in the game like reused assets and whatnot, but the strengths of the game are vast and numerous. Whenever I played this game I could play it for hours and I really enjoyed playing this game. I very highly suggest this game. That being said, for full understanding of the game it is important to play Trails in the Sky 1 and 2 before 3rd so make sure you do that to best understand everything in this game. Either way, thank you for reading my review and that wraps it all up. Trails in the Sky 3rd is a must play for anyone who is a fan of RPG's with fun gameplay, well-written dialogue and great music.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd (US, 05/03/17)
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