Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd

Trails 3 feels like fanservice – a way to expand on the stories and backstories of the characters in the first two chapters without having to produce too much new content or influence the world in any significant way. Gameplay-wise it is about as good as the previous games – functional, but not deep or innovative – and it offers a good slew of long flashbacks that are essentially hour-long cutscenes that do nothing but give you exposition on the character backgrounds. Building a game that’s specifically targeted only to the big fans of the previous games is a bit of a gamble though, so it’s nice to see them catering to their community at least.

One interesting part is that while the story doesn’t take center stage, it is in many ways a better story than the first couple of games offered. The main character Kevin has many more things going on than most of the other cast combined, and even though the game is about him overcoming his internal struggles he never comes off as a weak or unlikable character before working through them. It is an uncharacteristically human portrayal that shows that even characters that seem to have it together can have inner demons, and even though there are a bit too much magical mystery in his background story for it to become intriguing the resolution leads to more subtle and mature changes in his manners. It could well have been a bigger part of the game, but on the other hand it is difficult to say if it had worked as well had it been fleshed out more.

I have grown somewhat fond of the Trails series at this point, but after spending 130+ hours in the games it is difficult to tell how much of that is due to quality and how much is Stockholm syndrome. The series starts out with a cast of characters that are mostly comic relief goons or tortured loners with a dark past, but fleshes them all out during the game – I don’t know if this makes them better characters or if I’ve just gotten used to them. There is something to be said for knowing your form, and if you know the reader or player is going to be engaged for a considerable amount of time you can allow yourself to have characters that are initially unlikable – I think there are games that take advantage of this better than the Trails series, but if anything Trails in the Sky 3 shows that banking on familiarity is not necessarily a bad thing.

Posted on Jul 16/17 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »