RPGs from Falcom are known for being kinda difficult and/or mechanically complex. Trails in the Sky, while still somewhat mechanically complex, reduces some of that complexity and replaces the heavy difficulty with a deep and engaging story.
The story of Trails in the Sky FC follows Estelle & Joshua Bright, the children of war hero Cassius Bright in the Kingdom of Liberl. Estelle is Cassius’ biological daughter, while Joshua is adopted. (Stick a pin in that, we’ll get back to it later). Cassius has also previously retired from the military and has become part of the Bracer Guild – an international group of troubleshooters-for-hire who operate independently of local governments – and are not soldiers. Think something like if the A-Team had an organization backing them, and there were a bunch of A-Teams. Estelle and Joshua are planning on their father’s footsteps, and are currently serving as Junior Bracers in their hometown.
The main plot puts the focus on the two siblings as they prepare to move from Junior Bracers to full Bracers. This process involves them going to each town in Liberl, doing a bunch of jobs for that office (usually a main quest and some side quests) before moving on to the next. As Estelle & Joshua move closer to the capitol and the completion of their task, the higher the stakes get and the more an underlying conspiracy comes to the surface. The threat is Kingdom-threatening, not world-threatening, so the stakes are real, but not over-the-top.
Where the mechanical complexity comes in is the magic system. Each characters has an “Orbment”, which character can slot several “Orbal Quartz” into. Each quartz has several different kinds of effects. The quartz provides various stat boots and ambient effects, like the ability to have a chance to do a status effects on regular attacks, or by giving a stat a percentage boost. They also give each character “orbal arts” or spells that they can cast. The type of the quartz and the order they are place into the Orbment determines what spells are available.
The game’s difficulty isn’t particularly hard. I’ve had a few fights in the game that were tough enough that I wiped, but between doing the side-quests that are available at each guild office, and some light grinding for the cash to buy the best available gear, I’ve been able to handle most opponents.
The narrative is presented fairly well, with the NPCs over the course of the game recurring elsewhere in the story, and the plot developing those characters nicely. That said, if I was going to give a complaint or warning about the game, it’s related to the bit I said earlier about the relationship between Estelle and Joshua. If you went “Oh, there’s going to be an incest-but-not-incest plot between the two” when I mentioned they aren’t blood related, you were correct. It doesn’t go very far, because of the other issue – the game ends on a cliffhanger, one that’s enough of an issue that if you’re engrossed enough to want to beat this game, you’ll want to buy the second game before you beat this one, so you can jump right in.
Still, I had a blast with this game, and immediately moved on to the second chapter, and I definitely recommend picking this up. Trails in the Sky FC and the sequel are both available from the Humble Store. Buying anything through those links helps to support both the blog and the Autism Society of Oregon.
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