The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails is an action RPG with platforming elements that started life on the PSP all the way back in 2012. And as is the case with so many of Falcom's lesser-known titles, it was never released outside of Japan. This new PS4 version, then, is a remaster of what some would consider to be a bit of a classic, and while we'd hesitate to put it on the same podium as, say, the best games in Falcom's Ys series, there's no doubt that The Legend of Nayuta is a blast to play.
Broadly speaking, Nayuta is like if Ys and Trails — Falcom's popular JRPG saga — merged with one another. The gameplay has a lot in common with the adventures of Adol Christin, while the narrative side of things takes cues from the aforementioned Trails titles — at least in terms of pacing and characterisation. But where Nayuta sets itself apart is in its structure, which sees our plucky protagonist (also named Nayuta) jump between his hub-like hometown and designated action stages.
The main thrust of the game's 20-ish hour story reveals itself quite early, as Nayuta and his adventurous friend Cygna uncover the secrets of the ruins that pepper their beloved Remnant Isle. Being so keen in his pursuit of scholarly knowledge, Nayuta dives headfirst into the mystery, and it's not long before he's exploring another world, full of strange landscapes, perspective-shattering secrets, and, of course, monsters.
To be blunt, the narrative never really had us hooked. Nayuta's an enjoyably energetic lead, and Remnant Isle immediately charms as a setting, but the overarching plot stumbles due to a reliance on tired and largely predictable genre tropes. It all just falls somewhat flat, despite lots of nicely written dialogue and a couple of story twists that try to keep things interesting. Overly serious bad guys, a squeaky mascot companion, and the arrival of an amnesia-riddled mystery girl is a combination that'll drag any RPG down.
Thankfully, the game's blend of hack-and-slash combat and fast-paced platforming should be enough to hold your attention. With tight controls and a solid gameplay loop, dashing, jumping, and brawling your way through each fairly short stage is satisfying — and rewarding, should you go searching for hidden treasure chests and collectibles. What's more, completing additional objectives — like beating a stage within a set time limit — nets you stamps that can be used to unlock new battle techniques. There's always a goal to pursue.
Now then, the action. Fundamentally, Nayuta is a simplistic slasher. You have a quick and easy sword combo, a dodge roll, and a double jump. You smack an enemy, and if your combo isn't enough to kill, you move away from its imminent retaliation. Easy at first, but the game quickly introduces foes that require some tactical thinking, be it because of ranged attacks or resistances to everything but specific techniques. And when you start encountering enemy groups that mix several of these elements together, things become surprisingly tricky — in a good way.
Boss battles are a highlight as well. These climactic fights boast their own gimmicks, and while it might take a couple of attempts to figure out a sound strategy, there's an impressive degree of creativity on show — especially when you remember that this was originally a PSP title. In fact, it could be argued that from a gameplay point of view, Nayuta is one of Falcom's most experimental outings, and that often works to the game's advantage as each new level offers some kind of fresh intrigue.
Having said all of that, there are times when the title feels just a touch unfair. Unseeable enemy attacks from offscreen can be a problem — especially when they subsequently knock you off a platform and reset your progress — and correctly judging the distance of some jumps can be unnecessarily difficult depending on the stage's camera angle. Minor grievances for the most part, but the frustration can add up when you're trying to blitz a level for the sake of certain rewards.
But if there's one area where Nayuta doesn't falter, it's presentation. This is a great looking remaster of what was already a lovely looking PSP release. Models and textures have been upgraded, and the art style — topped off with its wide range of bright colours and incredibly pretty lightning effects — really pops at a higher resolution, while running at a flawless 60 frames-per-second.
The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails is an effortlessly charming action RPG. Even though the story struggles to engage, there's so much to like about the game's hectic mix of hack-and-slash combat and responsive platforming. An easy recommendation for fans of Ys, or fast-paced, skill-based action titles in general.