The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure Review – Return to Crossbell!

Reviewed April 3, 2023 on Nintendo Switch


PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5


March 24, 2023


NIS America


Nihon Falcom

The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is a sequel to Trails From Zero and is also a key part of the greater Legend of Heroes franchise. It’s a nice and memorable follow-up and closer to the Crossbell arc, setting up even more events to come for the IP. In that alone, Trails to Azure is epic, sprawling, and possibly even a little confusing at times, depending on where your vestment at the franchise stands at the time. 

Trails to Azure reacquaints people with the SSS (Special Support Section) of the Crossbell Police, some months after the events of Trails From Zero. In this interlude, allies that were in the predecessor are now more closely working with Lloyd and the gang. Wazy and Noel, a former gang leader and soldier, are now in your main party. Everyone’s at different stages in their life in the months that have passed. KeA, the young green-haired girl the group has sworn to protect, is growing up and developing new powers. Randy and Tio are (initially) off doing their own respective thing. Lloyd is still searching for answers for who murdered his brother some years ago and continues his role as an on-the-beat officer.

Once more, excellent character dynamics are at play. Each core member of the SSS remains incredibly well written with their own intricacies and place in the world of Crossbell. A majority of my personal narrative highlights in Trails to Azure come from how these relationships develop and what that means for the greater story and world you’re exploring. This goes deeper with the new characters thrown into the mix. The opening chapter is where a majority of this takes place. It’s at first a very by-the-notes sequel where you’re just following a well-synergised team, tackling whatever comes their way.

“Once more, excellent character dynamics are at play.”

This synergy also becomes prevalent in combat. Every player has their own role to play in battle, more often than not reflected by their abilities. The game takes a turn-based approach where a timeline on the top left of your screen indicates who is going to attack first, friend or foe. Great strategy comes from paying close attention to this timeline as you also get the heads up when a turn will be ‘critical.’ For instance, I found myself waiting out my more devastating moves such as Combat Arts (more powerful attacks that require CP, a gauge filled each time you hit or are hit) for these turns. Juxtaposing this, players will find great reward in dolling out an attack that delays an enemy’s turn, just before they’re about to strike with gusto.

Special combo arts and magic abilities are also returning as per other Legend of Heroes entries. The former is gained from bonding events between characters, using up two members’ CP gauges and thus providing even more damage. Magic Abilities on the other hand are defined by the quartz a party member is assigned. Each character contains an orbment where the quartz is to be slotted in. These quartz are gems with different passive abilities that, when combined in certain ways, can result in different magic art abilities being unlocked for use. What this means is that at any time any party member’s role can change, who was previously a tank could now be a healer and so on.

Taking advantage of every single facet of the turn-based mechanics, including even MMO-style dodging of the area of effect attacks is engaging. There is a tonne of battles that are tense with a lot of push and pull that is hard to tough out. Do so and you’ll feel entirely rewarded, fully understanding each and every party member’s intricacies more and more.

Once more through the streets of Crossbell, feel familiar and like home. You can duck away from your responsibilities and get into some gambling at the casino, go fishing or even cook – all just some of the ways you’re engaging with the city’s culture. Many requests (side missions) that pop in from the Crossbell Police Department are there to pull you away from the main plot and once more be immersed in the well-realised city. These again are a lot of fetch quest tasks that simulate being a cop on the beat but take good advantage of your environment, bringing you far and wide across the map.

It’s apparent that this is at the end of the day a PSP port. Playing on Switch, my gameplay time wasn’t a stranger to framerate dips just exploring environments or as I exit cutscenes or combat. The stocky, somewhat awkward chibi models aren’t the nicest to look at and the environments, though often creative in art style and design, are hurt by the lacking improvement of visual fidelity. This is also somewhat at odds with the occasional gorgeous pre-rendered cutscenes you’re shown, feeling ripped right out of a bright and vibrant anime.

Trails to Azure and Trails From Zero were both a long time coming, serving as the only two entries in the Legend of Heroes series yet to be released in the West. I strongly think a proper remaking and reworking of the game a la the Like A Dragon series or Crisis Core would’ve gone a long way.

As someone relatively new to the franchise and having only started with this Crossbell Arc, Trails to Azure did lose me from time to time. It feels a lot less standalone than Zero did. It’s a sequel bigger and more epic than its predecessor where a lot more stakes are on the line. It wears that on its sleeve. Political unrest and nations at war make for a big chunk of the long and sparse story on offer. This is crucial to introducing the Cold Steel series, which takes place following this arc. However, it also draws from earlier games such as the Trails in the Sky titles. This resulted in many tense meetings with figures from various realms, where decisions are made that shape the entire world. Anger, frustration and despair are just some of the palpable emotions running through the room in these scenes, though I’ve yet to quite wrap my head around these stakes. Simply put, I’m still missing some sufficient pieces of the series’ puzzle.

The Legend of Heroes is a hard series to get into. It’s very involved and examples like this are just proof of that. However, I can never be too mad at that fact. Not many other RPG series are this long-running, containing epic, world-changing events and nations at war. They’re usually pretty self-contained. You just can’t find these types of experiences and sweeping stories anywhere else. The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure knows its audience and delivers the goods you can’t get anywhere else.

Like many games in the franchise, at the heart of Trails to Azure is the strength of its cast. KeA is very much the centre of it all. Every executive mission decided by the SSS team, each individual enemy’s motivations… she’s the focus. It’s an intriguing plot point as it becomes more and more apparent there is more to her than meets the eye. This results in a power struggle between wanting her to maintain her innocence and a happy, healthy life versus the many antagonists that make up a super cult needing her for her mysterious powers. It’s gripping to watch unfold.

Though I think a plot point or two could be cut to tidy up the story all that little bit more, you’re at least never going to feel robbed by Trails to Azure or like the story is phoned in. Political intrigue is aplenty. Each and every one of the antagonists is engaging and at times terrifying with their demeanour and motivations. You also get exactly what you’re promised: a sprawling epic story like no other.

If you’re like me and jumped into the series with Trails from Zero, I would recommend somewhat going back to the drawing board before jumping into Azure. Go back and play the Trail in the Sky games then visit here. It will make the payoff all the more worth it when you get into the intricacies on offer. I promise it’s worth it.




  • Epic and sprawling story that ups and nails the ambition set by its predecessor
  • Crossbell is once more joyous to explore, with many wonderful distractions
  • Character work is the forefront and palpable
  • Engaging and tense turn-based battles that require great strategy


  • Shows its age with character models, visual fidelity and framerate dips
  • Not as newbie friendly as Trails From Zero was

The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is nothing short of an epic RPG story. It’s not as good an onboarding point for the greater series as its predecessor Trails From Zero was, but that cost just means bigger ambition with the narrative beats and world explored.  It’s worth noting it’s not as polished as it should be, showing its age with the lower visual fidelity and framerate dips. However, the priority with NIS America is clearly just getting the game out there. Frankly, what a game it is. Crossbell is as magical as ever and it was a heartfelt joy to experience the second and closing story for the SSS team. You’re not getting many experiences as special as this one. I love and will miss you, Crossbell.