Excellent classic JRPG on Steam NOW, $16.99 (Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky)

So one should play the two Crossbell games after the three Trails in the Sky games? I was at the endgame portion of the first Trails in the Sky game when my old rig died. I still need to transfer my saves to my new rig so I can finish that one up. I really enjoyed it – the world is very charming and the magic/combat systems are more complex than they appeared to be at first glance.

The only thing I disliked was that certain basic collectible items were only available if you talked to a certain NPC at a certain time, to the point that you would have to consult a walkthrough if you truly cared about getting them all. The equipment loot was a little sparse and predictable, but I didn’t mind that too much. The monster designs are fantastic.

The release order is Sky 1-3, Crossbell (2 games), then Cold Steel 1-4.

But I actually think story-wise it plays better if you do Sky 1-3, Cold Steel 1-2, Crossbell 1-2, then Cold Steel 3-4. Crossbell kind of spoils a couple events in Cold Steel that would otherwise be a surprise, but not really the other way around.

Interesting, thanks! These games are so long that I have a ways to go before any potential spoilers delivered by Crossbell.

Dear Diary: That was back in Jan 2016. In that run of FC, I got to chapter 3 somewhere and stopped.
7 years later, I started another run using the English mod vita version, and stalled out again at the beginning of chapter 1. 2022 really has a lot of other good games…
At this point, I probably can’t do a proper run until I’m retired! Maybe.

Ha! It took me years of restarts and continuing where I left off to get close to finishing Trails in the Sky (never did make it to the end credits).

It’s a game that is hard to play in short spurts. You really need to sit down, take your time, savor every moment and that often means play sessions of at least two hours - for me, anyway - and not taking too long a break between playing.

While that can be said of a lot of JRPGs, I think it applies more here due to the very slow pace of the story and the amount of dialogue. Decent dialogue that’s naturally connected to the game world and events, not the typical JRPG filler crap that doesn’t add to your enjoyment of the game and is safe to skip.

It looks as if there is a translation backlog to work through before we start getting the new ones. Several more are coming next year, but it doesn’t look as if the most recent—the Calvard Republic-set Kuro no Kiseki, released in Japan in 2021—is among them. At least not yet.

Which is unfortunate as I’d absolutely skip ahead to play one set in Calvard with a bounty hunter/detective as the protagonist.

So I assume two of the three games they’re referring to are Trails to Azure and Trails to Reveries, but then what’s the third one?

Just hope these games are selling enough in English to make translating them worth it. It’s the only Japanese game series I give a damn about.

After Trails into Reverie, they are two deep into the next series in Japan (as in Kuro no Kiseki II comes out, uh, Thursday). The third one in the June article is presumably Kuro 1.

As far as I can tell they’re going to keep coming. The news out of each US release continues to be pretty good. The big problem is that they interrupted the “keep up with Japan” schedule to release Zero and Azure (albeit with the help of the Geofront work), adding in another year or two delay - which I’m sure helps them with the translation work but is very frustrating here on the US side.

They also went after some of the spreadsheet translations for Reverie and Kuro 1 recently, and I find it hard to believe they’d bother with that if continued US releases weren’t in the plans. Anyways, Zero now! I can’t wait, given how well it’s regarded from others who like the series.

The mystery third 2023 Trails game—to go with Azure and Reverie—is action RPG The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails, which probably makes it more similar to Ys in terms of gameplay.

Oh, and while looking this up, I found this helpful image of the series’ timeline (through the first Kuro game):

PSA: GOG is having a Falcom sale to celebrate the Trails from Zero release, going for the next 5 days.

https://www.gog.com/en/promo/20220927_nihon_falcom_sale

I’m taking the opportunity to pickup Trails of Cold Steel III for $30. The original ‘Excellent classic JRPG’ can be had for $10, while Cold Steel I is $20. Lots of the Ys games are only $5.

Picked up the original Trails in the Sky, and in most ways it makes a very good impression.

However, this augment system – placing quartz into slots and gaining various battle skills – is murky, murky, murky. At least for me. I’ve played through the tutorial section which explains, and requires decisions which appear to have important long term effects. But the explanation is in terms that I really don’t get yet.

So apparently each character has their own slots, which need to be filled with one of the kinds of quartz, and your (sometimes limited) choices determine the characters’ powers. But how to make any sort of educated decision regarding this, I haven’t a clue.

Less important at the moment, but I am also unclear as to whether the sepith picked up in battle is then a shared resource for upgrading both characters? for all characters who might eventually join?

Normally, I would just play a while and then re-start when I’ve feel I understand. But I sure don’t want to re-play a ton of fairly slow conversation, even if it is good by gaming standards.

And everything I find online seems devoted to raving about the amazing story arc, giving me the impression that I must be very stupid to not be grasping a system that most people apparently understand without problem.

I feel this because I have done it now. I normally get through the first chapter, but the story progresses too slow to really get into it, and I stop due to distractions. I’ll try and answer your questions as best I can based on these caveats. I might be wrong though.

I think the in-game encylopedia will tell you about the augments, and which combinations give access to the particular spells. The tutorial wasn’t helpful, I had the same problem. I do recall it being possible to remove augments and replace with other ones. Being a JRPG, there is definite room for grinding though for the Sepith if you feel as though you made a mistake. Also, Estelle does ‘generate’ more Septith with her S-move I think it is, the one that bashes a monster repeatedly. I expect the same thing would apply with other similar moves that repeatedly bash monsters.

Yeah it is a shared resource. That much I do know!

And finally, like I said initially, the game is so slow. I can see where there might be some tension later on, I never reached it. I need to give the game (another) chance. I guess I’m here to say you aren’t alone.

Right, somewhere in the in-game help there are Arts screens that show you the arts (spells) you can get and how many of each quartz they require. Something like an AOE heal for 5 blue and 1 green (on the same line). If your quartz total up to at least that, you’ll be able to cast that Art (spell). That’s how you plan it out, look at the available arts in that help screen, decide what to go for, and adjust quartz as necessary. You’ll get better quartz as the game progresses, so you’ll be able to afford the higher cost ones, but you’ll need to make decisions. All in on the bottom of the list major damage spell, or grab a bunch of different support arts.

Quartz can freely be swapped between characters, so you can experiment away and adjust all the time. The sepith you use to unlock quartz slots are shared among all characters and permanent, but you’ll get enough to unlock all slots on everyone, so no need to worry about saving for a later character. The system seems to work well and allows interesting choices and different builds.

FC does start slow, and gets real good later. SC (the next game) starts out full speed! I enjoyed the slower pace at the time when I played it a few years back.

This alone is a huge reassurance. Sounds like there wouldn’t be a need to re-start when/if I get it figured out, I can basically re-spec.

So… can you or anyone else answer this: The tutorial advises getting your slots opened as soon as possible. Once they are all open (have quartz), do you continue to grow your character
a) by replacing the slotted quartz with better quartz, or
b) by somehow adding to the slots, maybe with the sepith, or
c) other

Since it appears that these sepith drops from battle are so central, I assume that there is more to it than simply filling each character’s six slots.

Replacing the quartz with better quartz, and figuring out combinations that get you a good set of Arts (spells). You get some crazy quartz that give special abilities as well. You can also buy new quartz with sepith.

Yeah, quartz is effectively equipment you put in each character’s orbments and as such can be swapped. Sepith is currency used to buy quartz and open orbment slots.

Don’t worry; it took me a while to grasp the quartz system fully, but then it finally clicked for me. The best part about it is that you can effectively re-spec your slate of spells and boosts any time by swapping your quartzes around the entire party, so you don’t have to worry much about making a mistake in your loadout.

I would strongly recommend prioritizing your sepith budget by opening slots on your two main characters first. Side characters will mostly have their slots open up naturally as the game progresses, but if you have the extra sepith you can open up a key slot or two for them if you need the space to qualify for a specific spell (art). You can find those arts requirements in the in-game manual. If you want to farm sepith to open up slots or buy a specific quartz at a shop, notice what monsters drop the type of sepith you need (your in-game bestiary can help here) and you can target those as you wander about the roads.

I would also advise against selling sepith for money, as there are other ways to make money easily but you cannot gain sepith any way other than combat.

It also took me a while to fully understand the dynamics of the combat system and how powerful the timing of S-Breaks can be since they allow you to jump turns and act immediately, especially when paired with a damage bonus or similar that is earmarked for that turn you hijacked. That realization was a gamechanger.

Thank you both. This is helpful.

My next question is EP. At first, it seemed to recharge pretty reliably. If it was too low to use any art, I would use regular attacks for a couple rounds, and then I’d be able to cast again. Now I’ve hit zero and it has stayed there across multiple battles. I’m not sure what changed. But all my concern over quartz won’t come to much if it turns out that usually you can’t use arts anyway.

My other question is crafts. Do you have any control over which ones you get? Or is this just a basic to each character?

EP is your longer term resource, recharges when you level up or rest. There are special quartz that that can recharge it too, but you get those later. There are consumables too. If I recall correctly, there are some Crafts that some characters get that can recharge EP too. You can prioritize the EP Cut and EP quartz on characters that are more Arts focused. You end up using Arts all the time.

No control over which Crafts you get, they’re pre-defined for each character

I think EP also increases as you open more quartz slots on your orbment. In the beginning you will mainly be resting or leveling up to replenish EP, with maybe a few consumables. Later it will be easier as you have more access to recipes that can recharge EP and money to buy more potions/balms. As you wander, it’s a good idea to buy one of each food item in stores/pubs and eat it to learn the recipe so you can consult your recipe book later and make multiples of the more useful foods and drinks.

Here is a link to the PDF manual, which helped me a lot (it’s for the console version but the game system is the same). The in-game manual is very good as a quick reference, but I always like browsing over an offline manual with this kind of game.