The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Medium: Digital / Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No

The Legend of Heroes series of RPG games from developer Nihon Falcom has been surging in popularity in the West for a number of years, revitalized in large part by the continued effort to re-release the previous PSP entries on modern platforms like the PS4 and Nintendo Switch. The latest entry, The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure, was previously only available in Japan, being skipped over in favor of other entries when the PSP releases were being localized over a decade ago. It also marks the second and final entry in the ?Crossbell Duology?, making Trails to Azure a direct follow-up to Trails from Zero. As such, it?s not necessarily the best entry point in the series for new players, but it?s a satisfying conclusion to that arc for fans, and it?s a darn good RPG altogether.

If you do decide to make this your first foray into The Legend of Heroes games, Azure still does a decent enough job of onboarding new players. There?s a prologue section of the game to help catch you up storywise, along with an optional compendium/history text section that you can read through to help understand the various factions and characters. I think, after a few hours of being introduced to Crossbell and its citizens, most players will catch on quickly enough. Likewise, the battle system and general navigation in Trails to Azure isn?t the hardest thing in the world to comprehend, and new additions in the Switch version of the game, like the ability to speed up movement and battles, are solid quality of life choices that help propel this version of the game above the other system offerings available.

and basic in design. One thing I do appreciate is that despite the simplified look of the characters, each character is pretty distinct in design, so even without detailed features it?s always easy to tell who is who, making the cast of characters stand out a lot more. The performance for Trails to Azure on Switch is solid throughout, but I did run into a few outdoor environments that had a noticeable dips in framerate.

The soundtrack for Trails to Azure is also really well done, and while I can?t say how it compares to the original Japanese PSP release, it?s a solid offering with some memorable battle tracks throughout. It?s not going to be a top contender for soundtrack of the year, but it?s also pretty easy listening for the dozens and dozens of hours it?ll take to progress through the game. There?s also a surprising amount of voice acting in the game, albeit all in Japanese, bolstered by a really well done localization effort. Honestly, the bits of dialogue throughout the game are one of the big highlights here. I love that interacting with random NPC?s, even outside of quests or side quests, offers up a lot of background info and calls back to previous interactions, making the world of Crossbell feel alive and lived in. It?s definitely not a sterile backdrop for your main characters to progress through, which is something a lot of RPG?s could be better at showcasing.

If I could level any complaints again Trails to Azure, it?s that the general pacing of the game can feel a little clunky at times, and there are moments that really get bogged down with excessive amounts of story and dialogue with nothing much else to do other than move from point A to point B in order to trigger new scenes. Again, the writing in the game is strong enough to support a lot of this, but moments like the build up to the conference event in Chapter 2 definitely felt sort of long-winded to me, and I found my ability to focus waning over time at various points. When you?re given the option to explore the world is when Trails to Azure is at its best, and I just wish that it would happen a little more often.

Still, The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is a fantastic RPG, and is something I?d easily recommend checking out. Just keep in mind that this is very much a sequel to Trails from Zero, and I?d strongly suggest giving that first entry in the series a go before tackling this one, even if I think you can kind of pick up on core gameplay elements and story beats after a few hours of commitment. Provided you?re willing to spend the time to check out both titles, I think you?ll be pretty happy with the overall result.

Note: NIS America provided us with a The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-