So I just finished Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky for the PSP. It was a pretty enjoyable game, and I’m looking forward to (hoping) for the next installment in the series.

The game follows Estelle and Joshua Bright as they join the Bracer Guild. Bracers sort of function like police in the game. As part of their training as Junior Bracers, Estelle and Joshua travel around the Kingdom of Liberl completing quests in the different provinces¬† and investigating any nefarious activities. You get quests from the Bracer Guild, and occasionally from NPCs you talk to. Most of the side-quests have quite a short time frame for completion, and so it’s better to do them as soon as you get them, or at least before you progress too far with the story. The quests are the usual sorts of things you’d expect; killing monsters, finding items, escorting people places. There aren’t a huge number of side-quests, so most of them do have a bit of story and dialogue associated with them, which makes them interesting. As you complete quests you’ll earn BP, which you use to level up your Junior Bracer Class. You get more points depending on how you complete the quest, and a nice item when you level up to the next class.

The combat is pretty fun. It’s turn based, and characters can attack, use an art (magic which has unlimited range), or a craft. You move around a grid based field, and need to consider the distance between your characters and the enemy, as well as any area effects of the enemies magic (or your buffing/healing magic). There are also bonuses associated with the turns, so you’ll want to pay attention to how long an art takes to cast so you can pick up turn bonuses and prevent the enemy from getting them. Combat can go from really easy to really hard depending on how you approach it. If you die you have the option of retrying the battle, so you don’t have to go back to a previous save point to try a new strategy. I didn’t have to do much level-grinding in this game, and found most battles could be won just by changing the way I approached them.

The game doesn’t look as bright and crisp as I like, and I initially had trouble picking out the enemies on the screen. You get a quartz (item you use to enhance your abilities) early on though that lets you see enemies on the mini-map, which really helps. Once you have that, it’s very easy to avoid enemies if you don’t feel like getting into a fight, which makes traveling around Liberl and completing side-quests much less of a chore. There are a few dungeons which don’t have mini-maps, and that, coupled with the changing camera angles when you go through stairs/doors, made some of the dungeons a little confusing to navigate. This turned out to be a smaller problem than I anticipated however, as you enter very few dungeons without mini-maps, and most of them are small.

You keep Estella and Joshua in your party for the majority of the game, and pick up other characters at various points. They usually won’t stay for long, but they generally come at a higher level than your characters so you don’t have to worry about training them up.Using quartz you can change the abilities and give spells to your characters to make them fill pretty much any role you like, which gives the player a lot of flexibility. It’s also easy to plan what spells you want to give you character using the Bracer Notebook, which has lots of basic information about how to play the game, but also information about what combinations of quartz you need to unlock various spells. It’s really useful. Cooking is also very easy in this game, and is also pretty useful, and I mainly relied on cooking rather than buying healing items.

The movement of the other characters in and out of the party felt very natural and fit with the story line. This was one of the main things I liked with the game, everyone has understandable motivations for doing what they do (even the villains) and Estelle and Joshua’s movement around the kingdom and role in events make sense. Initially, I felt like there were to many ditzy characters in the group, and I found Estelle particularly challenging, but she gets a lot better as the game progresses and she eventually grew on me. The plot is pretty interesting, and picks up pace as you go along. This game is part of a trilogy, which becomes quite apparent right at the end, but the story mostly stands on its own and can be enjoyed without playing the other games (which is good because as far as I know they aren’t out in English right now).

Overall, this game was just fun to play. It’s easy to travel around and the combat is fun. The side-quests are interesting, and so is the main story. I feel like this is a game enjoyable enough that I could replay it eventually (once I forgot the main details of the plot).