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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of General Discussion

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Things change in both CS I and III (remember that the prologues are a bit different from the actual times you visit those sections later on) explicitly, there are probably more implicit changes along the way due to KeA's meddling. I guess I'm not explaining things well? lol

But remember that keeping the SSS alive is KeA's real goal here, Crossbell was always going to be conquered by Erebonia, but what changes the SSS's fate (and later Rean and co's) is that KeA manipulates events slightly in order to keep them alive by bringing them unexpected allies or looping back in people who've connected with the SSS or C7 who wouldn't have otherwise. Betting on the power of bonds between people is basically the ultimate Trails trope, and it's KeA's one sole play to make.

Where that ties in with multiverse theory is that the root (a given choice/event/etc) spawns multiple branches depending on how that plays out. As long as all options are causally valid, each resulting branch is a valid existing universe. KeA natively has the ability to read that structure, but when her nature as a septterrion is activated she also gains the abillity to alter that structure. The SSS in the original timeline (or set of timelines) never get involved with Renne for whatever reason, so when she leaves Crossbell the Brights chase after her and that leaves the SSS without any backup when taking on the cult and so they die. KeA changes that by luring them into contact with Renne, her power creating new causally valid branches.

But that also means that some version of her also had to live through those original timelines (likely ending in an unaltered Great Twilight where Rean falls victim to Ishmelga as the Great Sacrifice and ushers in the end of the world) and look for a way to avert that end, and so the question becomes what happens to those other timelines then? Time is an element in this series, and we haven't seen its treasure yet. The Great Twilight seems like it would've been a definitive end of the world scenario, so what happens when the world breaks that effective causal loop (and I'm not really hinting at big hajimari spoilers here, just a general sense of 'where does the world go next')?

Also, remember that Ouroboros leadership seemed oddly sanguine about the whole Phantasmal Blaze/Great Twilight plan, and their goals don't necessarily seem to be obtaining the sept-terrions, so what is their actual goal?

 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)

Things change in both CS I and III (remember that the prologues are a bit different from the actual times you visit those sections later on) explicitly, there are probably more implicit changes along the way due to KeA's meddling. I guess I'm not explaining things well? lol

No, you're fine, I'm aware of those changes at least, in general.

But remember that keeping the SSS alive is KeA's real goal here, Crossbell was always going to be conquered by Erebonia, but what changes the SSS's fate (and later Rean and co's) is that KeA manipulates events slightly in order to keep them alive by bringing them unexpected allies or looping back in people who've connected with the SSS or C7 who wouldn't have otherwise. Betting on the power of bonds between people is basically the ultimate Trails trope, and it's KeA's one sole play to make.

Where that ties in with multiverse theory is that the root (a given choice/event/etc) spawns multiple branches depending on how that plays out. As long as all options are causally valid, each resulting branch is a valid existing universe. KeA natively has the ability to read that structure, but when her nature as a septterrion is activated she also gains the abillity to alter that structure. The SSS in the original timeline (or set of timelines) never get involved with Renne for whatever reason, so when she leaves Crossbell the Brights chase after her and that leaves the SSS without any backup when taking on the cult and so they die. KeA changes that by luring them into contact with Renne, her power creating new causally valid branches.

But that also means that some version of her also had to live through those original timelines (likely ending in an unaltered Great Twilight where Rean falls victim to Ishmelga as the Great Sacrifice and ushers in the end of the world) and look for a way to avert that end, and so the question becomes what happens to those other timelines then? Time is an element in this series, and we haven't seen its treasure yet. The Great Twilight seems like it would've been a definitive end of the world scenario, so what happens when the world breaks that effective causal loop (and I'm not really hinting at big hajimari spoilers here, just a general sense of 'where does the world go next')?

(Cold Steel IV ending spoilers follow) That would make sense with CSIVs weird "normal" ending, where Rean just sacrifices himself, Crow, and Millium to kill Ishmelga, then where you can get the "true" ending by doing that sidequest and be able to kill Ishmelga without sacrificing those people... So that means both timelines exist? Are Falcom going to explore multiple timelines? I wonder if there's a timeline where the Sky games have a different outcome... KeA can manipulate the past according to dialogue in Azure, so I suppose so. And you're right, we haven't seen the Time Sept-Terrion yet, so who knows what that will do.


Also, remember that Ouroboros leadership seemed oddly sanguine about the whole Phantasmal Blaze/Great Twilight plan, and their goals don't necessarily seem to be obtaining the sept-terrions, so what is their actual goal?

Pff, man, who the fuck knows with them lol. I wonder if they're trying to clear the board of all the Sept-Terrions save the one they either have, or the one they want, so with all the others gone they can rule everything? Or maybe they just want to destroy all the Sept-Terrions. Or maybe no one at Falcom knows and they're just making it up as they go along (lol). Given their name, I'm leaning towards them destroying all the Sept-Terrions and disbanding, or something like that.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
I beat this on Saturday and had a great time, but by the end of the last dungeon I was more than ready to wrap it up. Evasion Tanks are OP in this series (in at least the ones I've played).

Thats a lot of spoiler text I am not going to read yet since it goes through to CSIV and I've been pretty non-spoiled on it for the most part. I am debating if I want to replay CSII NG+ to refresh myself or just right into CSIII...
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Yeah, don't read the spoiler text in my post, it spoils everything lol

CS3 does have a story summary on the title screen, I believe, so you should check that out and see if it suffices rather than play CS2 again (which I think kinda sucks lol)
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
I wish Reverie would be a bit sooner - and I wonder if it will on consoles? Thats how it was with CS3/4 right?
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Consoles will probably be 6-12 months ahead, yeah. Most of these are commissioned PC ports by NIS, Falcom only does the initial release on PS4/5/etc.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
Yeah, I just saw that and it is AMAZING for those folks. Not only the translation work, but the technical work and QoL additions they made to both games were phenomenal. I don't have much other experience with fan-translations (Mother 3 being the only other), but the bar they set was super high.

This of course did require them to remove the patches from their site, so those who slept on it will need to wait till next year - but it is coming west on Switch, PS4 and PC!
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Yeah, great for the fan loc team. Always good to see work like that actually rewarded.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
"Why doesn't [company] just use the fan stuff?" is one of those questions that people always ask about games, and the answer is always that they can't, because things don't work that way. Apparently, sometimes they do!
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Issue is mostly that creative rights are distributed to all the individual creators on the team rather than being assigned to a company/other singular entity, and a lot of participants in these sorts of superfan projects like to remain anonymous or off the radar in general.
 

Regulus

Sir Knightbot
Interesting. This actually isn't the first time that Falcom games have had fan translations adapted for official release. XSEED used Jeff Nussbaum's Oath in Felghana translation as a base, for example.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
iirc, didn't they famously do that and then have to toss out most of the work and start over from scratch anyway for some reason?
 

q 3

here to eat fish and erase the universe
(they/them)
I wonder if they'll port Trails in the Sky 1-3 to Switch? Seems like that should be simple enough, and at the moment the only viable place to play them is PC. (Can you even buy the PSP versions anymore?) Heck, I might actually play 3 if it was portable despite my waning interest in the series.
 

fanboymaster

(He/Him)
Presumably XSeed would need to be cut into any such deal in the English speaking sphere which is likely why it hasn't happened.
 

WildcatJF

Red After Image
(he / his / him)
I REALLY want Trails in the Sky to come to Switch, but yeah, XSEED would need to either give their blessing to NISA or do it themselves, and I suspect there's several reasons why this hasn't happened yet.
 

Sprite

(He/Him/His)
Oof, I’m more than a full game behind on these. I need to get on that.
Issue is mostly that creative rights are distributed to all the individual creators on the team rather than being assigned to a company/other singular entity, and a lot of participants in these sorts of superfan projects like to remain anonymous or off the radar in general.
I imagine figuring out the contracts for these things can be a nightmare in a lot of cases. It would be hard to determine who owned what in fan projects where people enter and leave over the course of the project and have their hands in multiple pots.

Though I also imagine bigger publishers just don’t want to encourage fan translations.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
I wrapped up CSIII last night and keep telling myself I am going to take a short break before I jump into CSIV.

I think I am lying to myself.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
Yeah it lasted all of 24 hours before I jumped in.

The parallels to CS2 are pretty apparent! Thats not a bad thing, but the whole find all your friends scattered around and the trial chests for specific character combos felt super familiar.

I am not very far into it, just having found Ash in Hamel. The highlight was the time you get to spend with Estelle, Joshua, Renne, and the parts of the SSS we didn't get to see in CSIII.

Going to just keep on going and then finally read all the spoiler text above! Wild that Reverie is 2 years away but I can be patient.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I played the first of these, and I guess it makes sense to put it as the first in a sequence considering how the series is structured and how people usually interact with them. Will I play Trails in the Sky SC, though? Sunk cost says I should, but my gut says I'd save myself a headache or a few if I just cut my losses here and now, in the wake of the first game. The warning signs are basically all here, even in the ostensible golden age of the long-term episodic project.

The greatest compliment I can pay Trails in the Sky is that it's got this almost instinctually keen knack for laying out and assembling an RPG out of assembly line components, knowing just how to make the most of almost interchangeable materials. It's of a kin to the wide-eyed, uncomplicated young adult yarns in the genre like your Lunars, Grandias, or Skies of Arcadias that are romanticized in their worldview and tone to the extreme, and are at least by their audiences interpreted as a salve to the infringements of self-serious convolutions of angst and cool edge. When I'm most mad at the concept in execution, I coin them "boyhood bullshit" as a subgenre that doesn't nominally exist but that I nonetheless feel. When Trails is at its "best" for me, it embodies the kind of idealized lightness of form for RPGs that disarms my investment in anything it attempts almost at face value, because there are so few things to latch onto. It's rigidly formulaic structurally, mechanically and narratively, collapsing into the absolute equal sum of its parts, so attempts at catching the player off-guard cannot really ever materialize. It's a monument to frictionless design in a way I honestly have a hard time comprehending or sorting out my personal feelings on as a set of systems to ostensibly engage with for so extended runtimes per game.

The almost total automation of the RPG mechanically seems deliberate in allowing the game to hopefully blossom into its true passions, which is very textual writing: this is a visual novel in all but pretense, which of course upsets the balance enjoyed by such pleasantly colourless RPGs as Trails's pedigree has traditionally benefited from; here the writing must carry the weight of almost all the game is as the focus is so singularly upon it. The approach seems to have been to overwhelm with sheer volume, to construct an artifice of interlayered plot threads and setting asides and ambient mythcrafting; by cold ratios alone, some of it will catch the eye and imagination just right, and create those strings of investment to be tugged and unraveled later on down the line. That's the promise and hope, anyway; in practice, the game just seems too written by half, gorging itself on five or six paragraphs where two could have sufficed and left more of an impression. There's no attempt to adapt the Falcom approach to RPG writing--tight-knit communities of a few individuals spinning their personal tales in the margins as the game goes on--to a nation-trotting framework, so the same effect is reached for in a context that's anonymous and meaningless to try and salvage. There's just an inescapable feeling of the bulk of the script existing to flex its own girth, insisting the sheer profundity of its impact through scale alone, where most of the emotional tenor is limited to filling out empty space it's afraid of leaving unaddressed.

Maybe all of this would be alright, or at least elevated by the prime players, but the game cannot pull off such an upset for betting on a fundamentally broken premise: it's a coming-of-age story starring a teenage girl, where the entire emotional center is dedicated to the burgeoning romance between her and her brother. This is such a monkey's paw scenario that it's mindboggling: for once, such a lining of the planets occurs that results in both a leading woman in an RPG and who has an established, unaffected by player choices or tantrums romantic relationship with another character--and it wastes it all on an incest fantasy. The game really doesn't care what you think of this as its stance is exceedingly clear, as every moment of it from beginning to end is devoted to building that telegraphed tease to its played-straight conclusion, with the supporting cast invariably and unanimously egging on the prospect and practically shaming the protagonist for not having committed to the set course. Isn't it extremely weird you aren't already fucking your brother, Estelle? It's laid on so thick, so unceasingly, and by the cliffhanger conclusion promises to devour the entirety of the sequel as well. An additional tinge of regret added to the mix is that for all the misguided romantic prodding they're put through, Estelle and Joshua's relationship and dynamic when presented as platonic siblings, traveling companions and working partners actually really works, and the needling and joshing around hits on something really unseen in the genre, in what kind of heterosocial starring roles are allowed or desired to be seen in it. It's a glimpse of something better the game is all too willing to sacrifice on a fool's altar.

If that were the solitary but admittedly colossal blunder the game made, what appealed about the narrative stylings could still be read in a potentially charitable light, but again circumstances aren't so fortunate with Trails. The game hides behind its cheery and affable exterior and lulls one into its rhythms, but its rotten heart exposes itself often enough to be perceived as more than an accident. Olivier alone in the character's introductory scenes and the refrain that he maintains thenceforth exposes the writers's characteristic casual bigotry in the trite melange of confused homo and queerphobic flailing, as the distinction matters not a whit for its purposes and is not acknowledged by the game, just as it sees no difference between queer people, predators, and rapists. It's the "comedic" song and dance that's played out to the same cadences and steps anyone who's spent time in the pop culture mire of any era or any culture has seen too many times, executed so according to form that it only highlights how long the game commits to it, which is forever. A similar opportunity for shitty putdowns arises in the school play scenario and the crossdressing depicted there, adding transphobia to the game's routine of people to be mocked and fetishized as sideshow attractions, all at once. It's a precarious quality to double down on, as the game goes on and through probably the best storytelling modalities it possesses outlines that the villains, or the instigators of the current crisis at least, are largely motivated by base sexism, reacting violently to the prospect of women in power and staying in power, attempting to undermine and oust them through political maneuverings and military marshals. For a game that from the start threatened to travel down the predictably tired roads of ancient civilizations and their unimaginable artifacts left behind and the secret societies that pursue them, the casting of the antagonist of the hour as a petty, insecure man who condescends at "womanly" state policies strikes a chord that again suggests at something the game in the end was not interested in exploring in greater depth or focus when it could always default to the baseline. The superficially feminist rhetoric that's put in the mouths of the heroes, even if mostly only in opposition to a villain-coded stance, consequently rings hollow as the politics of the production at large can't seem to align with the stated premise of virtue in practice.

Trails in the Sky FC ends with a "what happens next" climax that's meant to build anticipation for the game to come, but I just feel tired. Tired of its scale that grasps at enormity without the substance to justify itself; tired of the people and creatures in the land that seem to only exist as genre props; tired of the act of playing that in its nature never changes or falters; tired of drawing blood from the stone upon which its writing is etched onto. When a gamelong villain-in-benign-disguise waltzed onto the scene at the curtain call and unloaded a veritable treasure hoard of arbitrarily capitalized terminology to gawk at, I could only shrug and maybe sadly smile a little. Right to the end, it's nothing more and nothing less than the very embodiment of its chosen genre.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
It only gets more and more "More" as the series goes on, too - if you're tired now, I would really not recommend playing the sequels (and the grossness largely gets worse as more subseries start, though - for the most part - the Crossbell duology aren't as bad as the fucking Cold Steel games, which I'm embarrassed to play in front of my wife lest she think I'm into the stupid bath scenes, which in some cases literally depict women being groped on screen, it's really bad).

To enjoy the Sky games, which I do (third Sky game aside - that one contains the absolute worst, most disgusting plot bit in the entire Trails series, which to a certain extent goes on to poison the first Crossbell game, too), I have to try to "forget" that Estelle and Joshua are related. It sucks because that's obviously impossible, but Estelle is a character I really, really like, and who has hilarious lines throughout the series (aside from the homophobic ones in FC re: Olivier, though the overt homophobia doesn't really rear up again in the sequels. ...sorta. At least not overtly).

Having said all that, I'll double down - you probably shouldn't play the sequels. SC usually takes people over 100 hours to complete, whereas FC is usually a "brief" 30 hours or so, and it really is more of the same in many ways.
 

q 3

here to eat fish and erase the universe
(they/them)
I agree, quit while you're ahead. I liked FC a lot more than you but had the same reservations - and found that SC doubles down on some of the bad stuff, abandons most of the good stuff, and somehow finds new and innovative (but hackneyed) ways of being obnoxious. SC does have (1) playable Anelace who is pretty cool for the one whole hour you'll have her around and (2) one really good scene between Estelle and Kloe, but otherwise it's just not worth it.

(My own personal pet peeve is that FC did a good job of having believable villains, sometimes too believable for the world we live in - dispossessed nobles who've resorted to crime to reclaim what they think they're due; a corrupt politician with a gambling habit; a lazy, entitled noble with a misogynistic streak; a military man with daddy issues. And the protagonists manage to defeat all of them, relying mostly on their own skills and talent, and make their world a better place. But SC drops all that and introduces Saturday morning cartoon villains with absurd or nonexistent motivations who are always at a higher power level stronger than you and only ever lose because they were just holding back and wanted to defeat you in a cutscene, and the only time the villains are truly defeated is when even more powerful NPCs reveal their own true power in a cutscene. It's awful and from what I gather the series just leans more and more into those sorts of tropes as it goes.)

"TiTS except Estelle romances Kloe and only ever kisses Joshua on the cheek" would be objectively better in every respect
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Anelace was fun mostly because I had to do a double-take to make sure Alis Landale wasn't here. She even shares the love of junk food.

I agree about the villains and it's part of the issues I have with the writing at large and what the game struggles with in constructing its own identity. It leans on RPG staples as if out of habit, one of the most prominent to me just being the existence of monsters at all in it. Nothing about the game's setting or storytelling priorities suggests that stock RPG critters running around would have any bearing on the game as it plays out; the political intrigue and character interactions are so divorced from them that it just feels like vestigial filler whenever they show up to justify the game systems that aren't all that interesting to begin with. Some games in the genre can manage the juxtaposition and integrate the seemingly out of place, but I don't think that's the case here. I wish most of it had been cut.
 
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