It has been a long time coming but fans in the west can finally play The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero. NIS America has just brought Falcom’s first entry in the Crossbell Arc over after it first released in 2010 in Japan on the PSP. When I reviewed the Cold Steel games, I mentioned how some parts made more sense if you knew what happened in this game and other titles in the Crossbell Arc and now we all can finally play them. Here is my review of the PlayStation 4 version.
The story in Trails from Zero follows Lloyd Bannings and his team members as they work as part of the Special Support Squad (SSS) for the Crossbell Police Department. Lloyd and the other’s jobs are to assist the citizens with anything that they need help with but this isn’t so easy when the public doesn’t hold the police force in high regard due to corruption behind the scenes. It is up to your group to improve the image while investigating things like gangs, political matters going on beyond the scenes, and so on.
The cast of characters this time around is a bit smaller but on the other hand each of them is well developed and bounces off the others well. In that regard, I would say that less is more when it comes to characters in Trails from Zero. Lloyd isn’t the most interesting main character by himself but the rest of the crew helps him be more likable. You got Randy Orlando who is the most skilled member and a bit of a playboy but also very caring underneath, Tio Plato who while young is also highly intelligent beyond her years, and Elie MacDowell who is the granddaughter of the mayor and very friendly and kind. The story in this game takes a bit to get going and it can seem a bit heavy on the dialog at times. If you’re someone who really just wants to get to the gameplay in your JRPGs this may not be the game for you.
Much like the other Trails titles, Trails from Zero is a long game that will easily last you 40+ hours. Most of this journey takes place in the city of Crossbell although you will get to explore some of the surrounding areas at times. While you may think that having the entire game take place in the city could get old over dozens of hours but I found that to not be the case. The city is almost like a character itself and there is a ton going on within it over the course of the game. I loved exploring every part of it, visiting the various shops, talking with all the NPCs to see what new things they had to say, and completing both the main and side missions. Side missions aren’t the most exciting at times as a lot of them are go here and kill the enemies or fetch some items for someone but I felt like I was gradually improving the image of the SSS as I did them. If you get tired of doing missions this game also features some fun side activities to partake in including casino games, fishing, and cooking.
The combat system in Trails from Zero is another area that is a bit on the simple side as you’ll be moving your characters towards your enemies on a grid and engaging in turn-based battles. Each character has an attack, a magic attack called Arts, a special skill called Crafts, and S-Crafts which are more powerful moves you can use when your CP is maxed out but will drain all of it. CP is used for your skills and can be regained while attacking or while being attacked. There are a few difficulty options to choose from while playing so everyone should be able to get through the battles regardless. Winning battles and leveling up your characters allows you to make them stronger and unlock new skills over the course of the game A nice and helpful feature you can use is a speed-up function while fighting to help get the battles over with quicker which is especially useful if you are grinding fights.
When it comes to the visuals those who have played the recent Trails of Cold Steel titles may be a bit surprised to see that this game isn’t quite the same visually. Since this was a PSP game the characters are sprite based instead of 3D and environments feature some rather basic texture work. The visuals still have a bit of charm to them but there is no denying that they are dated. Character artwork on the other hand is superb as always from this team with all of the portraits looking very nice. Voice acting is also very good although there is no English track which was disappointing to me. I’m glad to be able to play this game in the west finally but I would’ve hoped after all these years they could’ve gotten an English option in there.
Something important I want to call out is that the PlayStation 4 version I reviewed is not as good as the PC and Switch versions. That is because those versions were done by a different group that made a ton of improvements in the translation, UI, settings, visuals, and more. Because that group never did anything with the PlayStation 4 version we instead miss out on those improvements. This is still a solid game on PS4 if this is your only way to play it but if you want the best version, I would recommend going with one of those other two.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero is a fun JRPG with a great setting, story, and cast of characters. Since it took so long to come to the west it does show its PSP roots in the visuals and the PlayStation 4 version is inferior to the other versions. Despite those things though this is worth experiencing for anyone who is a fan of the Cold Steel games or those who want to jump in for the first time.
*The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero is available now on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.