stub The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak Review (PS5, PS4, Switch, & PC) - Should You Buy?
Connect with us

Reviews

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak Review (PS5, PS4, Switch, & PC)

Avatar photo

Published

 on

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak Review

The Legend of Heroes franchise and its Trails sub-series may pack hundreds of hours of content. But let not that deter you from discovering just what makes the franchise so special. Of course, it’s a subculture at this point. Fans of the series have been keeping up with four long-running story arcs. It's the type of epic JRPG whose payoffs don’t just come toward the end of a game but several entries spanning years.

Yet for newcomers, there may be no other better place to jump on the bandwagon than The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak. It’s the perfect entry point to get acquainted with the franchise. For one, Daybreak kicks off a new story arc, complete with a new cast of characters and settings. Meanwhile, veterans can take pleasure in embarking on a new saga in the Trails series. 

So, just how worthwhile is the new game? Does the gameplay match the high caliber of compelling storytelling and profound world-building mechanics its predecessors have set? Let’s find out in our The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak review.

Genesis

Van Arkride

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak takes you to the Republic of Calvard. You probably have heard Calvard mentioned in passing in the previous games. Well, now we finally have the chance to comb the crevices of Calvard’s capital city, Edith. Edith is much like our world, where post-war reparations have sparked overwhelming technological advancement and a booming economy.

But alongside progress, anti-immigration and new government reforms cause unrest among its citizens. Amid the rising chaos, we’re introduced to a new lead protagonist, Van Arkride, who works at Arkride Solutions Office as a Spriggan. As a Spriggan, Van dabbles in detective work. But more rightly, he takes on odd jobs that people would be typically hesitant to entrust to law enforcers.

It seems business isn’t doing too well when Van is woken up by a high school student, Agnes Claudel, to execute a meager job for him. Agness needs Van’s help locating a mysterious artifact called Oct-Genesis. So, they set out on a seemingly straightforward quest. Soon, Van learns there are seven Oct-Genesis artifacts that are missing, and that finding them unravels a deeper mystery.

Into the Deep End

Van and collegues heading to campground

Our time in The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak will be spent tracking down points of interest on a map with, thankfully, markers indicating places you have visited and those still unknown. Plus, you can fast-travel between points of interest, saving precious time. Gradually, we uncover story beats that reveal twists and turns you won’t see coming.

A political drama stirs at the heart of Edith, but there are also moral conundrums that rival our real world’s societal climate. It can be as simple as deciding whether to let off a first-time offender with a warning. A cashier steals from his boss, but later, you discover that he was threatened to do so. Do you report him and let justice take its course? Or do you cover for him, returning the money yourself and allowing him to go scot-free?

Depending on your choices, you’ll fill the law, gray or chaos morality meter. And while the highest meter won’t impact the final outcome of the story, it does influence which factions you can become a part of. The faction you can access plays a significant role in your gaming experience. It opens up unique events and dialogue, adding to some fun replayability. 

But you will later discover a terrorist group set on overthrowing the status quo. By siding with the government faction, you can dismantle the terrorist group by way of the “law.” Or you can side with criminal organizations and thrive on unleashing “chaos” on all who dare oppose you. Some factions, in general, will feel stronger to take on more dangerous enemies and bosses. Meanwhile, others may have certain restrictive features, like AI-controlled members.

More Than Meets the Eye

van collegues

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak may kick off as a “running errands” type of game. However, it soon unravels a convoluted plot that feels freakishly realistic. Many of the issues the story infuses are familiar, perhaps too familiar it’s uncomfortable to sit through. But that’s the beauty the story manages to paint. At times, it tugs at the heartstrings when it feels right. Other times, it picks your brain during the more serious undertones.

Van, in particular, does a fantastic job pulling us in with an appropriate dash of arrogance and humanity. He feels more realistic than the previous games’ too altruistic protagonists. Meanwhile, you meet with a charming cast of characters who become party members, tagging along with you on your missions. They are varied enough to spark intrigue while remaining engaging throughout the campaign.

Unlike previous games, Daybreak keeps your party group small. It gives you enough time to delve deep into each character’s personality, even throwing in some “found family” themes for good measure. You’ll meet characters, both old and new. But even with familiar NPCs, it still feels like a fresh experience, thanks to the player unraveling the story alongside Van.

Initially, Van lived in a corner of Edith, oblivious to the underground scene between rising mafias and anti-immigration unrest. Now, we uncover twisted motives and crime that the player and Van both experience for the first time: an aspect newcomers will find comforting.

Gameplay

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak Gameplay

Edith is beyond impressive. It’s the cherry on top of The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak‘s excellent campaign. With each chapter, you spend a day in the city. While exploring, you can interact with people or take on side quests. Being a new setting we haven’t seen before is in itself exciting. But you also enjoy subtle improvements to exploration, including no load times when entering or exiting buildings.

Thus, your explorative journey feels seamless as you weave in and out of different locations in the city. The story will often tie into your location. At times, it'll take a step further to infer from previous games. This makes your playthrough feel richer with lore built over the course of years.

For the most part, though, the visual design echoes Trails’ DNA. The same goes for the dungeons, which haven’t changed much. As for the visuals, they are spectacular on the PS5, with a crisp 60 fps. However, the Switch’s 30 fps can dip at times, with some unimpressive textures.

On the other hand, the music score is outstanding, as always. You enjoy upbeat tracks during hectic boss battles and calm, relaxing tunes during exploration. During your playthrough, the soundtrack perfectly curates exciting guitar and slow piano instrumentals that fill the silence with grace.

Combat

falcon

But nothing beats the thrill of playing The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak than its combat system. It merges real-time and turn-based battles so seamlessly well; it feels like the norm. You’ll charge at enemies, hacking and slashing your way through their shields.

Once defenseless, you can switch to turn-based with the push of a button. With some free turns at your disposal, you can unleash a flurry of attacks that finish the job. What's more? Switching from real-time to turn-based feels pretty smooth, even maintaining the same room you are in. 

Unfortunately, The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak’s real-time combat system only has your normal attack, a charge attack that stuns enemies, and the usual dodge roll. With only three moves, real-time combat can feel rather simple to come up with any clever moves. But the turn-based combat system more than makes up for it with deep customization mechanics.

Turn-based gives you wide flexibility, allowing you to optimize your party members’ stats and abilities using gems. Each character wields unique weapons and armor that can be upgraded. Further, you can tinker around with individual character’s Crafts and Arts abilities, with the former unleashing special attacks and the latter giving you access to magic-based attacks. And because different enemies are susceptible to different attacks, you are always tinkering around with your play style.

Moreover, turn-based battles now allow you to freely move around the arena thus adding an extra layer of tactical play. This opens up limitless possibilities to turn the tide of combat, from positioning yourself behind enemies to grouping party members to synergize their abilities and even placing your team out of enemies’ line of sight. 

Verdict

sonic chaser - The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak Review

Combining real-time and turn-based battles derives a deep and engaging combat system. It’s an odd choice that nevertheless allows you to experiment with different strategies, switching to real-time tactics to get a lay of the land and stun enemies with special attacks. Then, swapping over to turn-based to get some free turns from an advantageous position. With the turn-based system’s flourishing array of abilities, whether boosts, special attacks, and more, you can take on stronger enemies more easily.

Unfortunately, real-time combat fails to match the bar set by turn-based. It’s the weak link detracting The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak from breaking new ground and feels rushed over, so much so that you lean more on turn-based. 

Overall, though, The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak nails the story and world-building bits of gameplay. It features a compelling narrative that sparks intrigue, crafting a compelling, contextualized world you can’t help returning to if only to challenge your sense of morality once more.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak Review (PS5, PS4, Switch, & PC)

A New Saga Begins

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak ushers a new story arc newcomers and veterans alike will be pleased to unravel. It crafts a compelling narrative that juxtaposes right from wrong. Meanwhile, you enjoy a seamless merging of real-time and turn-based battles, taking on a terrorist organization threatening the peace and safety of the people of Calvard. 

 

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.