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This review was written before the game released

She elden on my ring till i'm far fromsoft

Starnger Of Paradise will be better

Edit: if you’re finding this in 2023 or later, I played the second fucking game.
The gameplay here is immaculate. Pure JRPG goodness, if a little on the easy side. No wasted mechanics, winning is fun, losing is fun, random encounters and boss fights are all fun. The money/equipment economy feels balanced all the way through, which is incredibly rare for this sort of thing. There’s no minigame chaff except for one unbelievably bad stealth section. Normally immaculate gameplay should guarantee a three-star review, but this clearly /wants/ to be a story-focused game above all else, so I have to underweight the fighty stuff.
I can see where people get confused and think this is a good game, story-wise, because it has the structure of a much better game. There’s a lot of sort of baseline stuff that suggests a lot of care went into designing this as a game that could tell a complex story through lots of different kinds of scenes. PCs swap in and out as the story demands so it’s not stuck to the “adventuring party” format; there’s a certain deftness to the blocking with the little sprites that gives a lot of flexibility to the talky bits; and it’s /very/ talky—these games are famous problems for localizers, I guess, because every little JRPG-type man-on-the-street interaction is a novel and changes contextually every time a character so much as sneezes. It’s all suggestive of a game that’s very patient, that does a lot of “worldbuilding” and character work, and is setting up something more complex than the normal get-the-boys-together-and-fight-God JRPG plot.
But it’s not! The story and the character work are, in practice, /incredibly/ bad here—pretty bad even by video game standards. A comment you’ll see about this game is that it’s unfortunately a bit boring because it’s doing all this patient worldbuilding and setup work rather than getting to the story; this is false. In fact, at the end of the game the kingdom has been taken over by sinister conspirators whose palace coup is actually a front for an apocalypse plot involving retrieving an ancient doomsday weapon from a secret prelapsarian robot palace beneath the castle. This is actually where most JRPGs end up after forty hours. What seems to be giving players the impression that this is not in fact happening—that the two main characters are still walking around meeting different Mayors and battling small-time Sky Bandits at the end of the game, as in the beginning—is A) this sort of ambience of “slow-burn” that the game projects and B) the fact that all of this is so completely dramatically inert.
I’ve never felt an RPG journey from “let’s go to the sewers for some training!” to “the A U R E O L E has been unleashed, and the R I N G G U A R D I AN has awakened” to be so free of conflict. These characters never really struggle. The story structure revolves more around them being /delayed/ then thwarted—there’s never really a point where they don’t know what they’re going to do next. They are constantly encountering and re-encountering incredibly helpful, friendly people who have the exact information they need. The next step in the quest is often, “let’s go to the bar to talk to X about this,” or, “Y wants to meet in the morning, so let’s go back to the hotel.” Characters do a lot of checking in on each other and relaying information, sometimes along roads full of monsters, and then eventually they find where the bad guy is and go proactively to bring them to justice.
All of this would work out fine if the scenes of characters hanging around hotels were psychologically insightful, or compellingly naturalistic, or funny, or sexy, or anything like that. Other reviews of this game on this website will suggest that this is so—a lot of “plot: 6/10; CHARACTERS: 10/10.” Anyone who thinks this desperately needs to watch an R rated movie. All of the writing here (and it’s not just the localization, which seems high-quality) is… I would define it as “sub-anime.” The “jokes” are terrible and often homophobic. Everyone’s primary character trait is how happy they are to see each other, plus maybe some plot-inert “flaw” (Schera drinks too much, but in a cool high-functioning way; Olivier is bisexual, which grosses the other characters out, but they heroically put up with it; Agate has a gruff exterior, which everyone immediately sees through to his heart of gold). There’s not a single joke that lands.
There is one main dramatic thread about which the game musters up a bit more genuine passion, and it fucking sucks: the main characters are a sixteen-year-old brother and sister by adoption, and they’re starting to develop feelings for each other. Watching this warmed-over Pornhub scenario play out completely mechanically, without an affection mechanic to jimmy or even a nominal love triangle to form an opinion on, is like a forty-hour-long sleep paralysis nightmare, in which you know exactly what’s going to happen but are powerless to prevent it. Imagine my horror when a character casually mentions that a nearby town is famous for its hot springs…
There are two other major dramatic threads: the first involves the characters’ father, who disappears in the beginning of the game. This should at least give you something to worry about, except that the game, terrified of stressing you out, keeps having characters insist that your dad is fine, or even that they just talked to him last week. He does in fact reappear at the end, completely unharmed, to tell you how proud of you he is. The other thing is Joshua’s mysterious past, which is way too vague to be of any interest, and then sort of comes out in a sputter at the end of the game. I was told that the game ends on a cliffhanger, by the way, which is such a generous definition of “cliffhanger;” a minor character reveals himself to have been evil all along, announces that everything that happened in the game was according to his plan, and then walks off with a vague promise to continue doing bad-guy stuff in the future. No cliff, no hang.
What the game is counting on is propinquity, the great ally of the game developer. If you spend enough time with these people, watching them hang out, alternately imagining that you “are” them or that they’re your friends, eventually you’ll fall in love. Clearly this has worked on a lot of gamers, and if the game were any better (say, as good as Fire Emblem: Three Houses, another game I would not describe as well-written) it might have worked on me. As it stands, I kind of like Kloe, the schoolgirl (I know, I know) character who turns out to be the secret princess and fights with a rapier and a trained falcon named Sieg. Sieg is cool, and Kloe kind of seems most convincingly like she would be friends with the protagonists. Her bit of the game includes a fascinating interlude where the protagonists are assigned (the gimmick is that you belong to “the Bracer Guild,” which is a sort of multinational benevolent fantasy Pinkertons) to attend a high school (?) to help out with a school play (??) in drag (ah, okay). I’m not sure I was ever more interested in the story than during this bit, which promises all the parapedophilic low-level sexual intrigue one expects from a different sort of game. (This is one of /two/ sequences in the game where Joshua has to crossdress, by the way; the other one involves a maid uniform, for purposes of sneaking into a palace. This all just makes me nostalgic for the edgier, more complex queerphobia of Final Fantasy VII’s crossdressing gag.) But it all fizzles out into the same chumminess as the rest of the game; all the schoolgirls agree that the siblings are made for each other and you walk around after the play meeting an array of Mayors, each of whom congratulates you on your stunning efforts.
Apropos of the secret princess, a note on the politics of this game: it’s completely unreflectively pro-royalist. The Queen of the Liberl Kingdom (yes, “the Liberl Kingdom”) is a wonderful old lady, and her granddaughter, Kloe, is a wonderful young lady. But there’s another heir, through the distaff, the queen’s nephew the Duke, who is a shitty, pampered, self-obsessed aristocrat. Kloe and the Duke have a coequal (not “contested,” just “equal,” like no one has gotten around to reading the line of succession yet, the Queen being only sixty) claim to the throne, and nasty bad actors in the military, in service to foreign interests, lock the queen in her room and abduct the princess and announce that the Duke has been made heir. Vile treason! Luckily the Benevolent Fantasy Pinkertons are here to set things to right. Now, I’m not a whiner about this stuff, and I’ll accept a benevolent princess and kindly queen, but this isn’t Zelda: it’s supposed to be a complex palace intrigue story! Maybe it should think about this stuff for even a second!
Anyway, I haven’t ruled out playing the second one eventually, because I’m a mark, and it’s supposed to be better, and the gameplay really is fun. But I’m very glad that I have regular exposure to way, way better art than this. If this is your idea of “plot pretty good, characters excellent,” I consider you a victim. Of what, I’m not sure exactly. This game, much like every villain I sliced my way through in the course of playing it,, is only the innocent pawn of something much larger and more sinister, but that I can’t spend too much time thinking about, because it’s boring and I have better things to do.

This review contains spoilers

This is going to be a bit of a rant, maybe more than FC deserves. It's difficult for me to do otherwise though, considering the cultural recognition Trails in the Sky now has in its diehard Falcom community. Really it's just unavoidable now, as any conversation I could have about Trails in the Sky will inadvertently be tied back to the reverent fanbase. I don't think that's what the general public who play this game will experience, but when you're about as online as I am, it won't come as a surprise that a lot of what I COULD'VE talked about when it came to this game was quickly dismissed.
I don't hold that against the people who love this series, but it was very interesting to me when I came out the end of this game quite positive after the first runthrough. Specifically that any and all talk I could make about the specifics of this game were weirdly shouted down as "this game is just setup for the entire series and it should not be judged without that retrospection in mind." So you know what, I kept my mouth shut. It's not a terrible enough point to consider, even though I thought then as I do now that it's certainly a weak excuse. So I kept going, I went ahead and immersed myself in a fat load of Trails discourse and ended up surrounded by it, being spoiled on several things before I even thought to finally pick up SC. I may not be an expert on Trails in the Sky at this point, but I do feel a lot more informed about the series and FC's place in it as a whole. And it is sorely not the conclusion I think those people really hoped I would come to.
FC is not just a setup of Trails in the Sky's series narrative that leads to interesting payoff, it is a setup of Trails in the Sky's criminal flaws and trends. It's literally a walking simulacra of what the series stands for in its biggest moments, from its biggest positives to its awful issues. I'll start on what I still reminisce fondly, which is FC's sense of character. After a pretty dogshit poorly paced intro, there's more moments than I can effectively count where the cast of FC ends up bouncing in my head with their sense of heart and strong humanization. Dialogue is very reflective and strongly well written for each of their characters, and it all contributes to comfy vibes that define the midgame, which I'd say is where FC certainly peaks. Worldbuilding is no slouch to get you into the setting either, with a pretty grounded dialogue and well setup stakes for adventure that feel refreshing. The story keeps that idea in mind, which makes the endgame feel rather deserved even when the stakes are still pretty fate of the nation-heavy.
The story, however, is also when the cracks really start to show. FC is really quick to show its hand that a lot of the characters it puts at you are effectively tools, motivations that are nice setting dressing but completely thrown out when it's suitable. To make it clearer what I'm talking about, FC establishes a villain who is fighting for a past idea of his nation in absence of someone he respected. They then literally, and I cannot stress this enough, throw this out that his motivations and his choices were brainwashed by some other guy we don't fucking know at all from the get go. Even if I were to pretend that didn't happen, FC really does not explore this theme much if at all, or this backstory to an even genuinely sympathetic level.
This is the clinching issue with Trails stories, the setup politics that points at interesting themes are wallpaper, torn asunder right in front of you at every turn you could get. The villain I quote here is really not the first time that the inner themes of a nation you visit are hamstrung for a big bad that is neither emblematic of the themes to be a good metaphor or interesting in their own right. There's even more stuff I can get ranting about, but talking about the ramifications of moral motivations and how quickly they are side-stepped was already a poor errand for me to rag on when this game pushes that incest is fine, actually.
The combat is about as disappointing, but has more to do with the base mechanics that Trails seems to care about rather than its potential. Early-midgame is a bit interesting initially, where the grid-like structure and the meter management of arts ends up forcing you to take encounters by the skin of the teeth while you're trying to figure out your strategy. Immediately after this, it falls apart as you begin to realize that Trails could not give less of a shit about the action economy it makes, never going beyond "lose a turn" or "gain a turn" in terms of time. Positioning, while sometimes tested with genuinely solid superbosses, also ends up turning into dominant strategies of doing the same thing ad nauseum. I highlight the endgame for this especially, where p much all enemy fights are weakly put a massive fucking AOE to encapsulate as much as you can, and then repeat. Were it not for the customization and good user experience for figuring out the combat systems on your own with solid feedback, I would say this combat is average.
And I'd like to say that my issues here are FC-only still, I really would. I really would like to believe the narrative that keeps getting wrapped in front of me that this is at worst just a middling setup that then gets into the real kino shit that is the series and fixes all of this crap. But no, it's not. Trails does get better at its strengths from here as it goes on. The character writing continues to be good, and gets great and even excellent often. The vibes do get stronger, especially in terms of the soundtrack that gets outright legendary. But the poor foundation in story, general thematic writing, and combat is what you see here on full display. It's so vastly the embodiment of Trails that it's stunning how much talk about the series now feels like gaslighting to me.
Trails in the Sky FC is not a good game, and though I still lean positively on it, I would not recommend it to most. Worth a try at least, if you can get past the awful pacing in the first arc or two and end up enjoying yourself a ton then you absolutely will love the rest of the series. Is it worth trudging through if you don't enjoy it superbly to get to the rest of the series? I'm still not really sure about that.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky FC has made me realize why people miss old-fashioned Final Fantasy titles. The video game, developed by Nihon Falcon, is a Japanese JRPG that takes queues from a number of established JRPG's including Nintendo's very own Xenoblade Chronicles, Aquaplus's Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception, and Bandai Namco's very own Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3. Additionally, using some clever story bits, and a very underrated reference to Thanos' infamous Snap, Trails in the Sky contains such incredible writing and settings that even those who disliked Blade Runner 2049 will still enjoy the franchise.
The game stars two cousins as they travel along the countryside, in search of their mother Lina (named after Lina Inverse from Dota 2)'s husband. The husband, named Cade, has left the world of Liberal to the nation of Amestris to partake in stopping a deadly military plot from the nation of Ebony. As the cousins travel across the country, they encounter all sorts of wonderous folk including a Zany martial artsman, a dominatrix Motoko-Kusanagi inspired whippersnapper Scheherezade, and the charming but deadly Oliver.
With a combat system that combines the best elements of Fire Emblem's incredible partner system and a soundtrack so good it could have been composed by Uematsu, The Legend of Hereos: Trails in the Sky FC is a fantastic entry into the long-running franchise, and is a definite must-play for all fans of Light Novels, Manga, and Cartoons worldwide.

This review contains spoilers

If this game were a movie instead, I would watch it and I would like it. The gameplay was good, but completely secondary for me. I played through the whole thing because I wanted story. I wanted to know what was going to happen to the grumpuses. I wanted to help Beffica get midnight dirt on everyone. I wanted to see if Wambus and Triffany's marriage would pull through.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy catching bugsnax, because I totally did. I liked that they weren't all super easy to catch. I had to do a little bit of thinking and there were multiple ways to catch some of them. And even though I had my (correct) suspicions about the bugsnax, I had a good time feeding them to everyone and making them look absolutely ridiculous.
And. Holy hell do I love Chandlo and Snorpy. I love them so much I could cry. And I did cry. And I also recorded their scene at the party at towards the end of the game so I can watch it and cry whenever I want because I love it.

Ughhhhhhh what a goodass game. I kind of wish it ended when OG Persona 5 ended though, is that bad? Anyway, I was sad at the end because all the characters were my friends now and I didn't want them to leave me :'(

HBO Presents: Half Life 2 - Episode 1 (FakeFactory Cinematic Mod).
While both games are surely quite good, I'm still unconvinced by The Last of Us. There's REALLY nothing I can add on top of Pansy's wonderful review.
What mostly struck me was how sanded down much of the theming of this really was, the way the second half of the game begs you to find endearment in Abby and her family struck as cartoonish in the already well-trodden realm of player implicating. What I did find assuring was how much I agreed with the game's own assessment of Joel, despite eroding the ambiguity that gave the ending any kick to begin with. Considering how much the game caters itself to low common denoms, I'm glad it didn't take the easy way out and venerate him, making Ellie's Quest 4 Revenge as dicey as it needed to be. I genuinely only wish this wasn't a roving epic where 13 hours of playtime are dedicated to hugging walls, opening shelves and picking up scraps of metal. The developers dying at their desks for this game feels uniquely frustrating to me because of how... unambitious it felt despite dizzyingly high production values?? The whole thing is enemy chokeholds in dense concrete jungles separated w/ scripted segments where someone grapples you from offscreen for going through a door. Very brave, Druckmann.

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