Review by Exhuminator
Endless trails of fun.
Nayuta no Kiseki, or rather, Nayuta: Endless Trails, represents Falcom hybridizing two of their flagship products; The Legend of Heroes and Ys. That is to say; Nayuta serves as a gaiden story in the TLoH universe, while utilizing the lessons learned creating action combat Ys ARPGs. In some ways we get the best of both worlds with this game, but that's not to say Nayuta is perfect by any means.
Focusing on the positive first, Nayuta: Endless Trails is a really fun game to play, when you're deep in a tricky dungeon, taking down baddies left and right, negotiating tricky platforming in tandem. Indeed, Nayuta's focus on strong platforming gameplay differentiates it from the Ys series, in which Ys' platform jumping is of limited availability and complexity. Going forward still, Nayuta's dungeons at times incorporate puzzles that wouldn't be out of place in a Zelda game. And best of all, Nayuta: Endless Trails' many boss battles are each and every one a treat to overcome. All of this means that when Nayuta: Endless Trails is firing on all cylinders, its gameplay is pure action-RPG bliss.
To make things even more entertaining, Nayuta has both amazing graphics and phenomenal music. Character models are animated very well, and backgrounds are extremely well made, utilizing intricate detail and a lot of moving parts. The OST is provided by the legendary JDK soundteam, and they pull off truly magnificent music here. Everything from sombre reminiscence to full own rock bombast is present. I sincerely doubt your eyes or ears will be disappointed by what Nayuta: Endless Trails pulls off on the PSP. Did I mention the controls are simple, responsive, and work beautifully?
In addition to all described above, there are mini games available of sorts. Nayuta runs a side business where he helps fellow villagers with their personal problems. These issues serve as side quests, and there's plenty of them. Also, Nayuta can help to build a huge museum showcasing all the fossils he finds throughout his adventures. Nayuta can also collect ingredients and cook his own bento boxes (HP restoratives) using techniques he learns from his sister. You can also collect star shards that allow you to learn more about the world by viewing them with a special device. And there's even more complexity to the gameplay than that, a lot more, but I'll leave some surprises for the reader.
Now for complaints. I don't have many, but I have some. First off, Nayuta takes about an hour and a half to really get going. The first hour and a half is spent on dialogue exposition and NPC/world building. Frankly, it's a bit of slog, and really sets the wrong pace for what this game's actually about. And the dialogue exposition remains a constant problem throughout the experience. Characters will banter far more than you'll care for them to. And fairly often you'll hit series of cutscenes that just go on and on and on. This would be okay if the plot was worth expounding upon, but it isn't. To be frank, Nayuta: Endless Trails' story is crap. It's not worth talking about, and it's not worth reading about for hundreds of dialogue boxes throughout the game. Thankfully there is a fast forward button to skip all these diatribes and get back to the meaty action.
If you are looking for a fun and substantial action-RPG, I strongly recommend Nayuta: Endless Trails. It's a visual and aural feast, with excellent gameplay to back up those top tier aesthetics. However, its plot is pretty bad with dialogue that's often a slog. If you can deal with those aspects, the rest of the experience is fine ARPG dining for all genre connoisseurs. Nayuta: Endless Trails is well made, full of pleasant surprises, and it's made by Falcom so you know it's good.
(Reviewers note: This game has an English fan translation, I played version 4.14 of it, and all was OK.)
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Nayuta no Kiseki (JP, 07/26/12)
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