Dawn of a new Day

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak is Nihon Falcom’s latest delve into the more than lengthy Trails series spanning many games. It is the first game to take place in the Calvard Republic, an area many veterans of the series will have heard mentioned many times in the games long running entry. It also marks the first game in the Trails through Daybreak story arc.

While Trails Through Daybreak marks a new saga the game itself comes with plenty of new and returning features, some are very familiar whilst some have a new spin on them or are completely new to the series.

The story follows Van who is known as a spriggan, a bounty hunter of sorts who does many odd jobs which border on illegal activities and while he tries to keep down on the low many fugitives and law enforcers are aware of who is is and keep him at arms length. A young girl known as Agnes Claudel approaches Van one day and asks him to help her find a rare sentimental orbment that was kept in her late family, not being the sort of work he would undertake he advises her to look elsewhere until it becomes apparent how rare and sacred the artifact is and that these fugitives are only too eager to take it for themselves.

The story and layout of the game functions similar to past Trails games in that you will start off playing through story segments of the game, fighting enemies and exploring dungeons, partake in some shopping, speaking to NPC’s and taking on side quests which push the story forward. A formula familiar to most but with a difference. There are no bonding events per say like past games, instead Van can connect with other party members and also hang around with some NPC’s, this may feel like a step back however there is a new alignment system implemented which allows Van to make choices during his adventure. The choices you make will cause three values of Law, Chaos and Gray to change. These can affect both stats and plot points later on in the game. The games characters are all charming in their own way. Like past games characters will over-react to minor situations and inconveniences and there will always be that one character who is way too excitable for no reason. One thing I noticed is how similar characters are to past counterparts. Van has a resemblance to Rean while Aaron has a resemblance to Randy. Elaine with her stoic pose and the looks of Alisa. Aaron is my favourite character because for one, I share the same name as him, he wields two swords and has fiery red hair. What’s not to love?

Trails Through Daybreaks combat takes a different approach to past Trails games but is highly unique as it is has two modes, a real-time action system similar to that of the Y’s series and has characters spamming attacks and supercharged attacks to take enemies down but can also be switched freely to a turn based combat approach. The game actively encourages both types of play. If you take the turn-based combat approach then the game will feel similar to past Trails games with combat taking place on the field with characters using Arts, Crafts and Item

While the games smaller enemies can be quickly dispatched it is worth noting that they can turn the tide of battle should you feel too cocky by knocking your controlled character off balance and starting off a battle with a disadvantage to the player.

Trails Through Daybreak comes with a plethora of new features that come with the Xipha, a phone like device introduced and developed in Calvard and is the standard battle orbment device, similar to the ARCUS but more advanced; for example Arts Drivers are equipped to the Xipha and provide a list of arts for that user, similar to how Master Quartz were used previously. Each Arts Diver has a number of unlockable slots that can hold plugins which allows customisation to the users arts loadout. Another feature are skill shards which allow players to stack elemental attributes by equipping different quartz on different lines. They function similar to the system in earlier Trails games where certain quartz generates a specific of value for that element. For example stacking Fire elements can unlock a new skill but stack it to the highest value can nullify Fire damage altogether.

There are plenty of returning features such as the speed boost which boosts dialogue and gameplay itself, cooking makes a return but feels more refined than before as Cooking actually gives you points for creating new items and recipes by further expending and providing better buffs for higher ranks.

After playing bother versions of the game on both PS5 and PS4, Trails Through Daybreaks performance on PS5 is no doubt superior when compared to the PS4 version, The performance as well as character models stand out far more, however if it was not for the PS4 version of the game I would not have been able to play through the game for more than an hour and this was due to a bug encountered early on in the game on the PS5 version of the game. After progressing an hour into the story I found a bug which caused the game to shut down after a certain cutscene. The first time I actually passed the cutscene into the next area where I had saved on turning the game off, on returning I was shut down with an error straight away which made me think there is a glitch causing this at that point in the game on the PS5 version, I did end up reinstalling the game which proved ineffective as this issue remained unresolves and the only was past it was to play through the same area on the PS4 version of the game until after that point and transfer the save data to PS5 which allows you to continue your progress. Hopefully this issue was just a one off and it is not an issue that carries on with the full release of the game.

Overall Trails Through Daybreak feels vast, there is lo loading times when entering buildings although there is a small but minor load times between areas in the game. The towns are more vibrant and there is more to explore with some nice touches such as Cars that drive past that your character can get in the way of, and blow their horns in anger as you accidentally run in front of them. Dungeons feel more like dungeons this time round which is an issue I had with certain past trails games, instead of feeling bloated with enemies and the same copy and past backgrounds, they feel more crafted with care, the first subway has trains going past as you explore and graffiti on the walls rather than just feeling like a blank corridor with enemies thrown in for the sake of it. You can still smash open boxes and zip through dungeons at lightning pace dispatching enemies as you go which is good for the grind but as you play through for the first time it always feels good to take it easy and take in the games fantastic music whilst you explore. Trails through Daybreak is easily the best looking Trails game to date and whether you are a returning fan or not you’d be doing yourself a massive disservice to pass up Trails through Daybreak.

A PlayStation 4/5 Review Code was provided by NIS America