When it comes to RPGs, there’s no other series that can compare to the Trails games when it comes to universe building. By telling a story that spans multiple games, Falcom have created a fantastic world that is almost impenetrable for newcomers but beloved by those dedicated fans who have played hundreds of hours of these RPGs. Never had this divide been more apparent than with The Legends of Heroes: Trails into Reverie, which is a fantastic game that frankly I am not the target audience for.
Essentially Trails into Reverie is a continuation and ending of two different story arcs, the Crossbell arc (made up of the recently released Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure) and the Cold Steel arc. That’s six massive games that you pretty much need to have completed to fully enjoy the newest entry in the series, or you’ll be as lost as I was thanks to my lack of Cold Steel experience. I at least recognised Lloyd and the other SSS members though, so at least that’s something.
Recognising a few characters in a game with this many people in every scene is simply not enough, especially once you leave the first story route focused on Lloyd and his Crossbell friends. From start to finish big reveals were lost on me, but if you’re up on your Trails then this game is like Avengers: Endgame on steroids. Even without that required knowledge though, Trails Into Reverie is an epic tale with sensational turn based combat.
Trails Into Reverie has similar combat to the Crossbell games, with characters taking turns to use their Arts and Crafts. Crafts are individual to each character, use CP and can do anything from damage, heal or deal painful status effects. Arts are the magic of this series, and although they take time to cast the elemental effects they unleash are more than worth the wait.
To ensure you have the right Arts for the job you need to equip Quartz to your characters, which are basically gems you put into a little grid. Providing passive buffs and access to powerful Arts, you’ll want to experiment with these colourful rocks to create a team of powerhouses. Since Trails Into Reverie expects you to be familiar with the series, your characters come equipped with some decent Quartz from the jump, and you won’t have to worry about lengthy tutorials and boring battles in the first few hours.
This is especially true when you take into account all the special attacks and complex systems you’ll be expected to remember and use right away. S Crafts are special attacks that use up all your CP but can be used even when it isn’t your turn. Then there are follow up attacks that use up teamwork points and special Order Commands that apply buffs. It might sound a bit overwhelming at first, but before you know it you’ll be a master of combat and beating up bosses with the best of them.
To level up your team and be ready to save the day you’ll need to head into the True Reverie Corridor. This weird pocket dimension houses a big dungeon full of enemies, treasure and items called Sealing Stones which unlock characters, mini games and bits of story that help fill in some narrative gaps. You’ll spend a lot of time in the True Reverie Corridor, so it’s a good job it’s full of as much interesting stuff as it is.
All the best RPGs have plenty of mini games to invest your time into, and Trails into Reverie is no exception. There’s the series staple of fishing, a card game (be still my beating heart), and a quiz which is probably more enjoyable if you know the series inside out. When you don’t fancy whacking mechs with an axe, they’re the perfect distraction.
The biggest shock for me coming into Trails into Reverie were the 3D visuals. After the 2D chibi character models and isometric perspective of the Crossbell games it was interesting to see some of my favourite locations and party members in all their high fidelity glory. The visuals are nice enough, but I think I preferred the charm of those remastered PSP games.
The English voices were an unexpected addition too, but they’re certainly a welcome one. The audio in general is absolutely top notch, with some fantastic tunes waiting for you both in battle and while exploring the world. I’d expect no less from a Trails game, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
I played through Trails into Reverie entirely on the Nintendo Switch, and unfortunately that meant dealing with an inferior version of the game. The framerate of the game is shoddy at best, and while exploring the 3d world and moving the camera about the slowdown is real. Fortunately the combat isn’t really affected by these issues, but it’s pretty damn distracting and disappointing regardless.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie is clearly an epic RPG set in a deep and interesting universe, but unless you’ve played through at least six massive games before this one you won’t really understand what’s going on. Even if you’re a Trails veteran though I wouldn’t recommend you play the Switch version, and instead find another way to enjoy this brilliant and much anticipated game.
An absolute treat for long time Trails fans
Combat is as engaging as ever
The music and voice acting is great
Some fun mini games and side content
Pretty much impenetrable if you haven't played 6 other massive games
Runs poorly on the Switch
The visuals lose a bit of charm in 3D