The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero review (PS4)

When a new “Legend of Heroes” release by Falcom was announced, it instantly lit up our radar, as the Trails of Cold Steel series ranks among the best RPGs ever released. Does The Legend of Heroes – Trails from Zero live up to the anticipation? We played the PS4 version of the game, which is also available on PC the Nintendo Switch.

As longtime fans of the series will point out, Trails from Zero isn’t a brand new entry in the franchise, but rather a port of a game originally released on the PSP. It never got a Western release until now though, so it’ll still be new to all but the most ardent of fans. Taking place in a place called Crossbell, you play as Lloyd Bannings, a police school graduate who just started working in the special support section of the local police force. There’s public pressure because a group of mercenaries called the Bracers is considered to be far more effective at your job, so part of your task is to boost public opinion.

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You can do this by completing side quests, like clearing buildings of enemies of even (police-unworthy) fetch quests. Protect and serve, I guess. Bigger missions often take you out of the city, and gradually expand the world in a typical “Trails” fashion, slowly introducing locations and characters as you move forward through the story. It’s story heavy and can overwhelm in that sense, but the writing is as good as you’d expect so fans of the previous games won’t mind one bit. The game is also supported with a decent amount of voiceover work for key story beats, which is always a pleasant surprise for a handheld port.

Battles are of the turn-based variety, but you can gain an advantage by moving into a good position on the overworld map before entering into combat. While fighting, units go in a predefined order, allowing you to strategize based on who’s attacking when and what would be a good moment for an extra powerful attack. Gems can provide your party boosts to their stats and magic abilities, so it’s important to keep an eye in your party’s development and inventory outside of battle as well.

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But while the formula feels very similar to that in the Trails of Cold Steel titles, you can tell that this game predates those games – which (apart from the most recent one) appeared on the Vita. This was originally a PSP game and little work has been put into upgrading it. This isn’t the remaster or remake that some were hoping for, but fans of visually gorgeous titles were probably never drawn to this series to begin with. You’re essentially getting a PSP game running at a slightly higher resolution, and while the gameplay is stellar that won’t please everyone.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero may not be the next big milestone for the franchise, but it’s a great game nonetheless and a real treat for the fans to play while we wait for Falcom to work on the next big chapter. First though, we’re getting Trails to Azure, another title that was never brought to the west, and what Trails from Zero did was demonstrate we’re definitely not done with this series.

Score: 8.0/10

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