Half a year after the events of Trails in the Sky Second Chapter, Liberl has settled into peace once again—but even during peaceful times, there are many among the distinguished and fortunate burning with greed thanks to the influence of ancient artifacts. Most of the population remains unaware of their abuses of power, but to the most enigmatic order of the beloved Septian Church, the Gralsritter, snuffing out these would-be villains and claiming artifacts in their name is as everyday as professing one’s faith in the Goddess. On the eve of another successfully completed mission, high-ranking member Father Kevin Graham is immediately assigned to retrieve one more artifact that rests beneath Grancel Cathedral.
What’s more, even though this is a task he could easily complete on his own, he must reluctantly do so in partnership with his newest recruit, rookie Gralsritter and childhood friend Sister Ries Argent. Thus begins the start of a routine mission that becomes anything but, delving into a new and mysterious realm that follows an unnaturally strict set of rules: Phantasma. Therein, the history of the Septian Church and the pasts of the many familiar faces who took up arms for the sake of Liberl’s future will be laid bare…and some may have been better off staying forever sealed behind closed doors.
A more than worthy continuation of the Trails in the Sky saga, tying up some loose ends from the previous game while setting up events for the following entries. The dungeon crawler game flow of the 3rd may put off some, and the presentation may look outdated, but do not let this discourage you, as the game is one of the best Japanese role-playing games released this year in the West.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd's different gameplay structure and shifted narrative focus can take some getting used to, especially when coming off the formula from prior Trails in the Sky entries. However, once I was acclimated to the new radical shifts in structure and gameplay, I found that the 3rd carries all the charm and strengths of the previous game and goes beyond that. Trails in the Sky the 3rd is an excellent conclusion that not only sends off the Liberl arc on an exceptionally strong note, but also serves as a great teaser of the overall Trails world.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd is absolutely charming and it’s not only due to its cutesy looks. With a dimensional world of multiple planes hovering in the middle of nowhere and tons of text to read through, the game could pass for a foreign cousin to the equally engaging and prosaic-heavy Torment: Tides of Numenera. Both games share a fact the flashy presentation is not always needed to tell immersive stories. It’s the quality of the writing and the riveting dialogue that count towards the long hours lost in front of the computer. When all is said and done, Trails in the Sky the 3rd comes out as a balanced, thoughtful and inspiring JRPG.
An atypical dungeon crawler structure in the series, but with a great result that closes like a homage this great and unknown JRPG.
The story is so dense, it could discourage with a pile of text and a small amount of action, but anyone who gives Trails in the Sky the 3rd a chance, gets tens of hours of great entertainment, brilliantly written characters and an interesting story.
A love letter for fans, a final send-off for some beloved characters and fitting conclusions to endearing storylines. The likeable characters kept me interested and never left me feeling as though the development team had gone to the same well too many times, despite some reused locations and bosses. If you are okay with a considerable shift in overall gameplay, exchanging actual exploration on world maps for doorways leading to more focused events, then Trails in the Sky the 3rd is going to be highly satisfying.
Trails in the Sky the 3rd is bound to be a very divisive game among Trails fans. Its radically different structure is such a departure from the prior games that it's inevitably going to turn off some players, but at the same time, the fantastic boss battles and charming moments still manage to keep you hooked through what would, in any other circumstance, be a rather monotonous dungeon crawler. Had it not been for the two prior games of history, I doubt it would be able to hold up as well as it does; indeed, if you haven't played the previous titles, Trails in the Sky the 3rd would be a confusing mess. If, however, like so many Trails fans, you've fallen in love with the cast and want one last adventure with them, Trails in the Sky the 3rd does an admirable job of providing just that.
January 18, 2019
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III will be coming to Europe in fall. Watch video