Trails To Azure is an exceptional game. Every game in the Trails series that I’ve played thus far has been fantastic. The “Crossbell Duology” is often lauded as one of the best parts of the series, and now I fully understand why. For a game that was built for the PSP, the world Trails ToAzure created is fun to explore and the thematics that are squeezed into such a limited visual style are incredible. While the re-release of Azure doesn’t pack in any “New” content, it improves on the existing one. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see the Duology remade with the beautiful engine used in the latter Cold Steel games. However, the game already has a very charming presentation, and preserving it in this format is ultimately the best way to go. Trails to Azure builds off the previous entry, Trails From Azure, in more than just narrative and it’s worth every penny. Here’s why.
The character writing in the Trails Series is truly a large part of what makes it special. The S.S.S is an entertaining group to follow. Not only for the myriad of personalities, but they also make up a fun if the not kind formulaic team in combat. A handful of them had their major growth arc in the first game. I found Randy, Noel, and Lloyd especially compelling in this game. Trails To Azure picks up roughly a month after the end of Trails from Zero. The SSS has split up to help Crossbell get back on its feet. Lloyd and Noel follow up on the last bit of the final boss’ faction from Zero. It brings an amicable resolution to the previous chapter before the absolute insanity of this entry kicks into place. I can assure you that the constant pace of this story will hook you and keep you going. Getting through the main story and a healthy amount of side quests, I totaled around 65 hours of game time. The story wasn’t the only major thing that ramps up, as the combat system and convenience features also see some nice improvements.
Like the previous releases in this series, a 2x speed option allows everything to move much faster. This is great when you need to walk around a lot, when fast travel is unavailable, or when you go out to grind for EXP. Since the combat system is turn-based, this 2x feature can be a godsend. The S.S.S. receives a vehicle to use which allows even better fast travel options than what was provided in the previous game. Allowing you easier access to completing side quests or getting to story points even more efficiently. Some changes here would also become significant mechanics later in the series. Trails to Azure brings master quartz in the mix. This helps by granting status boosts and secondary abilities, such as recovering EP by defeating enemies or increasing your healing arts effectiveness. This means you can further build on existing builds and make them even more effective. During specific story segments, you also gain access to the Burst ability. When your teammates are active and you have filled the Burst Gauge using offensive skills, you can trigger the Burst State. During this, your team gains complete turns and nullifies any status ailments. This also allows you to cast Arts without any start-up time and regenerate your CP. Burst can be used to press an advantage you have or help reset the encounter to get you on better footing. It’s a great tool, but you must use it wisely.
Trails To Azure is a re-release of a PSP game that was never released outside Japan. The series is either infamous for having an insane amount of text. Not only is there a lot of dialogue, but every NPC has a unique name and something new to say, depending on your place in the story. This chapter is still a mix of sprite-based characters and 3d environments for the locations. And Yes, unfortunately, there is no English language dub. The lack of an English Voice option will turn some people off, but the voice work in its native language is fantastic. A lot of heart and soul is put into each of the performances. Even though the presentation style looks dated, the characters’ actions as part of the story and combat overflow with expression. The character, monster designs, and locales all have a ton of thought put into them and look great from an artistic standpoint. As per usual with Falcom, the music is downright phenomenal. While a handful of reused tracks exist, they are only for specific locations or when certain factions are being highlighted. The newer battle and boss themes got my blood pumping along with the story beats that lead to them.
Trails from Azure is a fantastic ending to the middle section of a beloved series. The strong cast of characters working to protect their home, dealing with conspiracies, and becoming heroes is captivating. The added conveniences and new elements to the combat system keep things fresh. I can’t wait for Trails into Reverie later this year and the Kuro series whenever that makes its way across the sea. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend starting with the original trilogy (Trails in the Sky) or at least starting with Trails from Zero. It’s well worth the investment.
Legend of Heroes: Trails To Azure Review
Old but still shining
Trails from Azure adds a few improvements from Zero, but it's consistency is what's most important. A griping story with great characters and a fun combat system makes Azure a game that shouldn't be missed.
Improvments to quick travel make getting things done a snap.
Additional combat mechanics make a good stystem even better.