Another track in the sky

Who I am
Aina Martin
@ainamartin
Author and references

Nihon Falcom is a name that might not say much to young western players and it's a real shame because it is a developer who not only includes the Ys franchise in his portfolio, thanks to which he has built his own notoriety, but numerous others. titles of great narrative depth that unfortunately rarely managed to find an outlet in the European and American market. The success of Steam in recent years has also allowed, however, the arrival of products previously closed to the world of gaming on PC, a change of course that allows us to get our hands on several goodies ...



The plot begins a few hours after the end of the FC, the completion of which is for this reason "mandatory"

Some History

In his native Japan, the Legend of Heroes saga has its roots even in the first half of the Eighties, when Dragon Slayer was released, a precursor of Japanese action RPGs; from one of its ribs, in 1989, the epic of Legend of Heroes was created which was distinguished by a more tactical game system based on the timeless scheme of turn-based combat. Trails In The Sky is itself a sub-series that consists of three games titled, very originally, First, Second and Third Chapter.

The first saw the light in 2004 for Windows (but was only released in Japan) and was subsequently revised and corrected, a couple of years later, for porting to PSP; only in 2014 did it make its appearance on Steam. The second was born in 2006 and was converted for Sony's portable console in 2007: the release we test is a direct descendant. If that's still not enough, you should know that an HD version was released for PlayStation 3 a couple of years ago, while on December 10 in Japan the so-called Evolution debuted, destined for PlayStation Vita, with a renewed character design and high graphics. definition. Finally, if you hope to be able to conclude the epics of Joshua and Estelle by putting your clutches on the third chapter, you will still have to remain dry-mouthed, because the "release date" on the Steam digital platform has not yet been communicated. Trails in the Sky SC will still require many hours with which to pass the wait even if, let's say it right away, although it is a stand-alone title and that it is conceptually playable even on its own, it loses a large part of its meaning without the predecessor, from which it inherits practically everything.



Anime Style

After the usual (for Nihon Falcom) introductory sequence in perfect anime style, we return to play the role of Estelle Bright who wakes up in her room after a night of which she remembers only a few frames: what she immediately realizes, however, is that at his side is no longer his beloved stepbrother Joshua, who mysteriously escaped from the royal palace. Thus begins, exactly where we left off, the adventure of the Bracers, a guild in charge of preserving world peace.

After more than an hour spent exclusively understanding the reasons why the male protagonist fled to hunt down the Ouroboros, members of a criminal organization, we can take the first steps only to discover that the nature of the game has remained essentially unchanged. . The characters, unfortunately represented by two-dimensional sprites with a low level of detail, move robotically in three-dimensional worlds which in turn betray the weight of the years. Although even the highest resolutions are supported, the textures are very poor and washed out, as well as the number of polygons which is clearly unsatisfactory for a title dated 2015. The skill of the designers takes care of making up for the technical deficiencies, with very inspired landscapes and in some situations even evocative thanks to certain "celestial" locations and a remarkable variety of the bestiary to be killed. That the technical work of XSEED, publisher of the software house of the Rising Sun, is limited (for the "real" one, see the box below) to the transfer of UMD data to Steam digital packages is unfortunately also betrayed by the control system: although it is theoretically possible to use the mistreated keyboard / mouse pair, the title is actually usable only through a joypad. It could also be an opportunity to fix some flaws such as the pedantic inventory, in which it is not easy to navigate or above all to understand which objects are being equipped, or even to improve the camera system that makes it sometimes bizarre to reach certain points, perhaps simply by adding a minimap, but as mentioned from the point of view of content the release does not differ from that for PSP. We then move on to explore the huge and very detailed kingdom of Liberl, following the evolution of the story that develops in ten chapters. There is no shortage of side missions and even mini-games that further extend the longevity of the title.



A sad story between the lines

XSEED commissioned little Carpe Fulgur to localize Trails in the Sky SC into English, after the same company translated other Japanese productions such as Recettear and Chantelise. It took four years to make the enormous amount of text of Legend of Heroes intelligible even to English speakers: we are talking about three million kanji, the Japanese ideograms. Such work would have put anyone on the ropes, but it was about to have funereal consequences for Andrew Dice, the founder of Carpe Fulgur. Always plagued by depressive symptoms, the good "Space Drake" found himself facing an apparently insurmountable obstacle: an e-mail from XSEED dated February 2014 and addressed (for the first time) also to his friend and co-founder Robin Light-Will where the publisher threatened to cancel the Second Chapter conversion. So, in March of the same year, after slipping a check under his partner's door with part of the company's money, Andrew locked himself in his Portland apartment and lay down on his bed, knife in hand, ready to go. get it over with. Fortunately for him, a few moments before making the last gesture, the ringing of the bell interrupted him. It was Robin who had rushed to rescue him, having sensed his intentions. To Carpe Fulgur we owe the translation of Trails in the Sky: Second Chapter, but only 51% of the text was implemented in the game, because XSEED stopped working with the studio in the summer of last year. The rest of the work was completed by poor Jessica Chavez, a freelancer who had already done the translation of the First Chapter and who spent six months of hell to meet the impossible deadlines of the publisher who too optimistically announced the availability of the game for September 2014. The complete result speaks of over 716.000 words: just to make a comparison, the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings has about 455.000 (in English). A practical term that also serves to convey the idea of ​​the material time required to complete the title.



Japanese tradition

The reflections elaborated so far also apply to the combat system: positioned on an isometrically framed grid, the heroes have movement points that can be used to move or to attack.

The magic crystals left by the monsters can be set in a bracelet, in a very similar way to what happens in Final Fantasy VII with matter, and there is also what in the Cloud Strife game is called Limit Break, that is a critical point which is reached by hitting (or being hit) and which unlocks particularly effective attacks. Another bijoux that embellishes the combat system is given by the possibility of "connecting" the attack points of the heroes on the field (there can be a maximum of four) to unleash a single, extremely effective blow. Too bad, however, that the level of challenge is not extremely high and that many clashes can be completed without particular use of the gray matter. Unlike the brand of Square Enix, in that of Nihon Falcom the enemies are visible and it is (almost) always possible to avoid clashes, just as escaping from an ongoing battle does not involve any penalty. These are very specific choices that betray a general approach devoted to reading dialogues and exploring the world: from this point of view Trails in the Sky is unrivaled, given that almost every character, however irrelevant to the main plot, has its own story that it deserves to be read and deepened. The narrative structure, held in place by the masterful characterization of the characters, however, takes several hours before fueling and igniting the spark of curiosity to the non-enthusiast, and the risk is to be tempted to abandon the game before it has expressed all its strength. potential. The robust soundtrack created by an internal wing of the developer (the JDK group) who knows how to adapt well to different circumstances and avoids getting bored, despite the matusalemmica longevity, thanks to the over forty tracks present, comes to the aid.

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10 operating system (64bit versions supported)
  • Intel Core2 Duo 2GHz processor
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • Video card with 64 MByte of RAM

Minimum requirements

  • Windows XP operating system
  • Intel Pentium III 550 MHz processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Video card with 32 MByte of RAM
  • 4 Gbyte disk space
  • DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

Comment

Tested version PC Windows Digital Delivery Steam, PlayStation Store Price 27,99 € Resources4Gaming.com

8.0

Readers (3)

9.3

Your vote

Trails in the Sky is a mammoth title, a sort of War and Peace in digital format capable of involving the player for tens and tens of hours: an entertainment that, however, is based more on understanding the plot and exploring the world than on fighting. From a technical point of view it is affected by the weight of the past years, but continues to remain enjoyable precisely by virtue of its narrative vocation that elects it among the most beloved Japanese role-playing games ever. In order to approach the Second Chapter, however, in the opinion of the writer, it is absolutely mandatory to have also completed the first of the series.

PRO

  • Phenomenal plot
  • Extreme longevity
  • Great soundtrack
AGAINST
  • It is desirable to have completed the first
  • Technically it is affected by the years
  • It takes several hours to get involved
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