Originally a 2010 PSP title, Trails from Zero was never officially released in the West, despite its incredibly positive reputation amongst hardcore Trails fans. Indeed, many would tell you that this is one of the best entries in Falcom's long, long running The Legend of Heroes franchise — and that's saying a lot. Thankfully, NIS America's never-ending quest to bring the Trails games overseas means that we're finally getting Zero later this year — and we've been lucky enough to see the localised title in action.
To be clear, this is the PS4 remaster of Trails from Zero, which launched in Japan in 2021. It includes enhanced visuals, a higher frame rate, and a high-speed mode that lets you blast through both exploration and battles. While we didn't get to see a whole lot of the game being played, there's simply no doubt that Trails from Zero is set to be one of 2022's most enticing RPGs.
There's a reason that Trails from Zero is held in such high regard. Although it lacks the fully 3D world of the more modern Trails titles, that classic Falcom charm is immediately noticeable. In its gorgeously drawn character art and its uplifting soundtrack, its presentation is pleasing and even cosy in that old school JRPG kind of way.
If you've dabbled in the Trails of Cold Steel series, you'll know what's in store with regards to gameplay. Battles are turn based, but there's a distinct layer of strategy in how you manage arts (magic), skills, and regular actions like attacking and defending. It's the sort of combat system where the basics are simple and easy to understand, but there's a surprising amount of depth if you go looking — and that depth is hammered home by the fact that you can customise your characters' loadouts with all kinds of different arts.
It's perhaps Trails from Zero's setting that gives it an edge, however. The whole story takes place in and around a city-state called Crossbell. It's a technologically advanced, independent nation that's precariously positioned between two global powers — making Crossbell an interesting backdrop from the off. But in typical Falcom fashion, you end up caring about the setting because of the characters who inhabit it.
Lloyd Bannings is the star of the show — a young officer of the law who you may have already crossed paths with in the aforementioned Cold Steel games. We won't say much about the story here, but all you really need to know is that it's promising to be another character-driven Falcom masterclass. The dialogue's going to be wordy and party members are going to fall back on anime tropes every now and then, but you just know that Lloyd and his ragtag team will win you over.
As big Trails fans, we can't wait for Trails from Zero — but we daresay that this could also end up being a great starting point. The so-called 'Crossbell Arc' — which includes Trails from Zero and its sequel, Trails to Azure (set to come West in 2023) — can largely be viewed as a self-contained saga, making it a far less daunting prospect than something like the four Cold Steel titles currently available on PS4.
Are you looking forward to Trails from Zero? Are you already a Trails fan, or might this be your first foray into Falcom's franchise? Join up with Lloyd and co. in the comments section below.