Another year, another Trails game – except we’re kinda going in reverse since this game actually takes place before the Cold Steel subseries (great games by the way), but hey, I’m glad we finally get an official release of this in the West.
So Trails from Zero, for those unaware, is the fourth entry in the Trails series, taking place after the Sky subseries. It takes place in Crossbell and introduces us to some important characters that then play a role in the larger story – for those that have played Cold Steel, you kinda know what I’m talking about there. Coming back from having played those games, it was nice to get a proper introduction to these characters instead of them just being casually introduced. Granted, I guess that’s what I get for playing them out of order to begin with, but then again, this is the first official release of this game in the West so…
Anyways, it plays just like any other Trails game. Fast-paced and fun turn-based JRPG combat with a few mechanics to set it aside from the norm, large open worlds to explore full of cool locations to visit and characters to meet, and perhaps the series’ largest draw, its expansive and extremely dialogue-heavy storyline full of politics, character relations, action – really, just the full slate.
It’s JRPGs like this that exemplify what I love about the genre, because in spite of its relatively niche appeal, you can tell a lot of heart and effort went into crafting it and I hardly ever feel the time passing when playing these games.
In the case of this one though, I do have to note a few things. For one, the story here is obviously designed as some sort of prequel or foundation for the following, still unreleased in the West game, Trails to Azure. A lot of the early game is just kinda random missions and even slice of life stuff that I will admit, are a bit slow to build up the cast. If anything, it felt like it was more so written as a way to introduce the location and the different factions and such rather than tell a meaningful story of its own.
Granted, I still have not completed the game – I might end up doing a full review after the fact – but it’s been kinda laidback so far, which is disappointing in the way I just described, but also kinda refreshing given the literal info dumping that the last couple Cold Steel games turned out to be. It’s a double-edged sword of sorts, making it easy to get into the title as a newcomer, but not really offering much as a standalone package if isolated from the rest.
That said, the gameplay is still some great stuff. Exploring the game world, taking on various quests that usually end in some sort of boss fight, building up your party’s loadout, and even partaking in the occasional side thing too, like fishing. It’s a bit formulaic, yeah, but again, it’s just nice to have a well-designed overall package even if it doesn’t excel in one particular area this time around.
Now as for the port – rest assured it’s a good one. I’ve played for about a dozen hours by this point and have had absolutely no issues outside of one strange bug where NPCs in some areas just walk in place. If anything, that provided a good laugh at times – although definitely should still be fixed. Otherwise, I ran the game at 4k 144fps with no drops, freezing, or anything of the sort. I played a lot of that time at 6x game speed too, and once again, I am forever grateful for the turbo mode feature, it really makes getting around and getting through fights a LOT less grating at times.
That and the keyboard and mouse controls are actually pretty good. Like, I would go from playing with a controller to playing with keyboard and mouse and have no issues transferring over. There is proper mouse support both in-game and in the menus and it isn’t just some tacked on thing. Very impressive port overall and bonus points for actually including the settings in-game this time instead of in some separate launcher.
So yeah, Trails from Zero has been pretty good so far. I had planned on giving it a full review in time for release, but I haven’t been able to beat it yet and I’m currently in the middle of packing for a move – so maybe that’ll be a future thing if I feel so inclined. Whatever the case, good game, good port, maybe not quite as interesting as other Trails games I have played, but worth a play for fans of the series if you have yet to do so already with the unofficial translations.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero is available on Steam as well as GOG, PS4, and Switch.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.