The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky The 3rd Review

By Shawn Collier on June 1, 2017

After the issues western publisher XSEED Games had with releasing The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter in North America and Europe after numerous delays, many thought that the third entry, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd would never see an English release. Being a decade old coming this July taking into consideration its original Japanese release, it’s now finally out in western territories on the PC. Without spoiling things too much for those who haven’t played the original two games (although if you haven’t, you really should before reading anymore of this review), it ended on a note where a follow-up in the same area would seem somewhat odd. So how does this third entry fare? It’s a great game mechanically and gives players closure to characters they’ve become attached to for sure, but there’s also other aspects due to the mechanics at play that will make it feel different than what most players are expecting out the series.

Instead of focusing on the characters players have come to know and love, 3rd instead has players control Kevin Graham, a priest of the Septian Church and a member of the Gralsritter, an organization within the church that’s hunting down a long-lost civilization’s artifacts. Studious veterans of the series might remember this group from the Carnelia in-game novella, which the 3rd’s event’s ties into. Things kick into high gear when Kevin and his childhood friend and squire Ries are trapped inside another world by someone calling themselves the “Lord of Phantasma”. They’re accompanied by both newcomers and people you’ll know and love as they discover more about this new world and how they can escape it.

This new world allows for the developer, Nihon Falcom, to change things up quite a bit. Instead of traveling the overworld and taking on side quests like in the prior two games, this new world is essentially a liberal dungeon crawler of sorts. There’s seven unique planes with no towns or quests, with a boss at the end of each which Kevin must defeat to progress.

Breaking things up, however, are special doors that only up when specific conditions are met such as having specific characters in your current party. These contain a brief side story about characters in the Trails in the Sky series, sometimes wrapping up loose ends that the previous two games didn’t or at times leading into things either for the Trails of Cold Steel or the currently Japanese-only games that were released after 3rd but before the current Cold Steel duology. These doors also differ in their application interestingly enough, with some being like visual novels as you’re just reading through them, while others have mini-dungeons to complete.

The orbment customization mechanic found in the previous two games returns again here, and while there’s no major changes in terms of mechanics (they still provide passive bonuses and in-battle bonuses), there are new ones to find in 3rd. With 16 playable characters to choose from, you’ll have a lot of chances to try out different approaches — to say the least.

Unlike most sequels (or should we say “tri”-quel in this case), you don’t get your levels reset in this game. Instead, you start out at level 90 as the game expects you’ve played the original two games and know all of the ins-and-outs of the combat system’s mechanics, so there isn’t really anything new to speak of in this department. That said, the battle mechanics were already nearly perfected in the original two games, so the grid, turn-based battles are just sublime even after hours upon hours of play.

As mentioned prior, while this is a ten-year old game at this point (originally appearing all the way back on the PSP), it still holds up quite well on the PC. The improvements over the PSP versions the PC versions of the previous two games gained hold true for 3rd, as essentially the same engine is reused again here. There’s some new music, although a large amount was reused from the prior games but used properly and fittingly at least.

At launch there were a number of technical issues I encountered, but XSEED Games has been releasing patches since the initial PC release and I’ve seen most of them fixed on my PC. Of course, this being the PC platform your experience may vary, but they’ve been quite receptive to listening to users and patching issues as they’ve been reported.

Final Thoughts

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd is quite a different game than most Trails fans will be used to. It’s linear structure outside of the side quest-like doors is a radical departure from the series norm up until this point (excluding the Cold Steel games, as those technically weren’t released originally when this game was released 10 years ago). However, it’s narrative and strong gameplay keeps true to the franchise’s core. This is a game made exclusively for the fans of the series, so if you haven’t played the first two games I’d strongly recommend playing those before picking this up. If you have, this is a great way to have one last adventure with them.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky The 3rd was reviewed using a digital code provided by XSEED Games. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
You start out at Level 90, so you have full access to all of the battle mechanics from the start.
The doors with the mini-dungeons provide a nice change of pace.
XSEED Games has done a good job at fixing issues as they've come up with the PC port.
Some might dislike the linear nature of the main dungeon.
No major battle mechanic or other changes to the core formula if you were expecting that.
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