Legend of Heroes: Trails From Zero Review

Release Date
September 27, 2022
NIS America
Switch, Playstation 4, PC
Our Score

Since I began my journey with the Trails series a couple of years back, I’ve been steadily making my way through the series. I was incredibly excited to start with the Crossbell Saga, as I already knew a few characters. Despite my excitement for this release, I will admit that I hesitated because of how much the first Cold Steel game advanced the series. I worried I might not enjoy it nearly as much as the last entries. Thankfully, after only an hour or two with Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero, I realized that Falcom’s standard for crafting a great story with a unique cast and a fun, if not somewhat dated, combat system. If you’re hesitant to turn back the clock on this franchise like I was, read on, I hope I can dispel that hesitancy.

Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero revolves around Lloyd Bannings. Having just completed his police training and graduated with his detective license, Lloyd sets out to fulfill his dream. On his first day, he is assigned to a new department, The Special Support Section (SSS). Banded together with a seemingly mismatched group, the misfitted team must work together to serve the public and show that justice still has a presence in Crossbell. Starting with simple monster clearing and odd jobs, the SSS grows from a group working to help everyday citizens to full-fledged heroes who will lay down their lives to save their homes. The characters start mostly as tropes, but each is well-written and evolves past the tropes themselves. The chemistry of the group makes for great banter. I love the way their interactions bounce off each other. The story in Trails from Zero could use some tweaking in its pacing. The story is relatively long, and it takes some time to get its momentum. The stakes are implemented slowly, but it eventually becomes a significant threat. Despite their very humble (and somewhat slow) start, the SSS is a fun bunch to watch blossom. The cast’s personality also really shines through during combat as well, in turn, enhances the experience.

It’s nice to see the Trails series’ building blocks improved. In Trails of Azure, turns are ordered based on speed. Random elements can help or hinder each character’s unique set of skills, called Crafts. One of the changes I wasn’t as fond of is how the Quartz and Arts work. In Azure, the number of specific quartz elements and combinations determines which arts the characters can utilize. Each casting also requires a cost of two resources. I needed to reference a guide to know which Arts can be used. I cannot help but feel that this should have been accessible in-game instead. I found generally equipping the quartz I wanted to enhance stats gave me enough Arts to keep my party viable. Trails series requires some attention during combat and some planning. The only honest criticism I have of the combat system is the information you can gather regarding enemies you encounter. When you receive details about weaknesses, the color coordination for each element isn’t entirely clear. This is possibly due to my colorblindness, but some additional clarity would be appreciated. Despite that issue, it doesn’t dampen my enjoyment.

I was taken aback by Trails from Zero’s art style. The characters are rendered with a 3d model that looks like the smaller sprite styles used in classic RPGs. The game shows its age; however, the overall tone is still very charming. I was surprised the sprites could have so many different animations to them. The background elements are still a little boxy, but when the two aspects are combined, they give a unique look and still radiate a lot of charm—a testament to Falcom’s ability to build believable worlds. Also, I like the main cast designs as well. Any character with enough story involvement gets a well-drawn character portrait. Despite the sprites having a limited amount of animation, it strongly carries the story along. The PS4 version of Trails from Zero has upscaled its menus, in-game text, and character portraits resulting in a clean presentation. While the story cut scenes are not as fluid, the overall story is quite enjoyable. 

The thing with starting a series relatively far into its run and then looking back is that it can potentially sour your initial impressions. Despite a presentation that dates itself and a few minor inconveniences, I found that this entry only furthered my love of the series. Perhaps my perspective is a little different because I jumped on the Trails Train so late into its life, but I was thrilled to learn more about the world of Zemuria through the lens of the SSS and Crossbell. If you need a starting point for the series, this is an easily accessible and excellent anchor point from the overall saga of the Trails series. Trails from Zero is a perfect entry; I cannot recommend it more.

Legend of Heroes: Trails From Zero Review
Old but still shiny.
While some elements of this entry are a bit dated, there is still a great story and a meaty amount of story to enjoy. If you can't access the original trilogy, this is an excellent way to start you immersion in the series.
A well written story with fun characters
A great location that furthers the world of Zemuria
Charm intact despite age.
Some in game information is not clear.