Hey all, and welcome to the official OT for Trails in the Sky the 3rd!
Alternative title: I can't believe this game is actually coming out in the west the 3rd
US: May 3rd, 2017 (The day of miracles)
JP: Literally forever ago
Elsewhere in Asia: Before us
Steam, GOG, Humble Store
What is this game?
Believe it or not, that's actually a very loaded question.
Trails in the Sky is the sixth entry in Falcom's The Legend of Heroes series. The games bearing Trails in the title took off after Sky was released, and for all intents and purposes are completely stand-alone when placed against the rest of The Legend of Heroes series. The 3rd is the direct sequel to Trails in the Sky SC, or Second Chapter, which itself was an even more direct sequel to Trails in the Sky FC, or First Chapter.
So... I don't need to play any other Legend of Heroes games?
So I can start with this game?
Trails in the Sky the 3rd is the third game in the Sky series, and very much relies on characters and plot points set up in the preceding two games. The 3rd is even more story-oriented than the previous entries, and with a large part of the story dedicated to exploring the history of characters and locations introduced or alluded to in the other Sky games, knowledge of what went down in those titles is pretty much required to enjoy this game. I guess you could start with this one, but you'd be hella confused. You'll get a lot more out of it if you play the other games first.
What if I played Cold Steel, but not Sky?
This is where things get even more complicated, due to how the games have been released in the west. Cold Steel is actually a few games ahead in the sequel line, and came out long after the 3rd did in Japan. Unlike Cold Steel, the 3rd is not a good place to start for newcomers. You will definitely recognize some characters from those games, and events seen in those games will be explored in more detail, but seeing them here first is really the intended way to experience the series. If the fact that this game expands on Cold Steel's world intrigues you, don't start here. Start with Sky FC.
If you're interested in this game or the Trails series, and haven't played any of the games yet, please check out GAF's official OT and this thread detailing what the appeal of the Trails series is. Both threads fully explain why to start, where to start, and offer key information on the series.
SPOILERS FOR SKY FC AND SKY SC WILL BE IN THIS THREAD DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE GAME, SO BAIL NOW IF THAT BOTHERS YOU.
Now that we're done frontloading the complicated history of the game, let's get on to what it's actually about!
A Change in Perspective and Presentation
First things first: the 3rd is a bit different from the other Trails games in how it's set up. Unlike every other game, the 3rd is not a country-wide adventure. Most of it takes place in an alternate dimension of sorts, and the bulk of the gameplay is a dungeon crawling experience. However, despite this, the game is very plot focused, with the heroes exploring celestial doors that reveal important information about their past and the world around them. You'll be doing a lot of reading in this game, but if you enjoyed FC and SC, you're bound to consider it a treat. The 3rd is meant to lead directly into the later games in the series, and is the strongest link between the Sky games and the games that follow.
Everyone's favorite protagonists, Estelle and Joshua Bright from Sky FC and Sky SC, are no longer the main characters of the game.
*Excessive booing from the peanut gallery*
But wait! We have an equally entertaining set of new protagonists. You'll even recognize one of them right away!
Father Kevin Graham
That's right, everyone's favorite moss-headed, crossbow wielding, assassin priest is back from Sky SC, and this time he's the leading man. Players will control Kevin as they unlock the various Star and Moon doors. And let me tell you - Kevin is definitely a worthy bearer of the title of lead protagonist. He is, in my opinion, the deepest and most compelling Trails hero of all, but I'll let you come to that conclusion yourself as you play through the game.
A young priest (legit and everything!) who sits comfortably among the Gralsritter’s upper ranks, the Dominions. His friendly persona and flippant attitude towards his missions gives the impression of someone who’s less reliable than he actually is. That’s not all he seems to be downplaying, either—and when his past comes catching up to him upon reuniting with his childhood friend Ries, the mask he’s managed to carefully polish is slowly beginning to crack…
Accompanying Kevin is...
Sister Ries Argent
Ries is the secondary lead of the game, much like Joshua was in the first two Sky games.
A no-nonsense sister of the Septian Church who was recently appointed to be Kevin’s squire. Ries is polite but often frank towards Kevin to the point where he’s thrown off his guard, and that ability to wedge between the cracks he obsessively hides from others is one of her key strengths. Short version: she’s stubborn. That goes double for when she’s hungry (which is always).
A large part of the appeal of the 3rd is in its HUGE playable cast. Every playable character from previous games returns, and several more NPCs return in a fully playable capacity. Kevin and Ries assemble an all-star cast for tracking down the Star Doors. If you ever wanted to play as a certain character, but were upset that you couldn't, you may find your moment in this game. They added a lot of fan favorite characters... EXCEPT FOR KURT! Kurt was even briefly playable in SC! Why must Falcom deprive us? Are two green-haired badasses too much for one game?
Anyway, here is the playable cast for the 3rd.
Gotcha! Estelle isn't the lead anymore, but she's definitely still a major presence in the game. Get ready for more of her shenanigans and sudden bursts of heartfelt passion.
A senior bracer for the Bracer Guild and the protagonist for Trails in the Sky’s first and second chapters. The events half a year ago have done nothing to dampen her spirits, and she’s still the same ray of sunshine with a stick her companions have come to love. She and Joshua have been traveling the continent in search of a particular someone.
He also has a new outfit again. What a fashionable guy.
A senior bracer for the Bracer Guild and formerly Enforcer No. XIII of Ouroboros, the Black Fang. Although parts of his past still plague him, his demeanor has softened and his heart has opened up considerably thanks to Estelle and the many people he’s met. He still believes he has a ways to go, but at least he now has the strength to see his personal journey through.
She got a haircut! Don't let "drinker extraordinaire" undersell her alcoholism. If Schera was a real person, she'd have been dead about seven failed livers ago.
A senior bracer for the Bracer Guild known as the Silver Streak. Drinker extraordinaire.
Zin (not Zane) Vathek
The Aeris/Aerith of the Trails series, Zin's name change has a solid reasoning behind it, of which you can read here. I highly suggest you check out that link even if you don't care about Zin's name change, as it has valuable insight into the localization process from XSeed themselves.
A senior bracer for the Bracer Guild known as the Immovable. Friendly drinker.
Olivier Lenheim (Olivert Riese Arnor)
Everyone's favorite sweet-talking, lecherous, oddly charming bard returns, this time in his princely Erebonian attire. If you liked the way he looked in Cold Steel, you get to play as him while he looks like that now. He's also an official selling point for the game on XSeed's website. He's definitely a fan favorite - and don't worry if you were upset by his role on the sidelines in the Cold Steel games. He's definitely back in a prominent role this time.
Otherwise known as Olivert Reise Arnor, prince of the Erebonian Empire, and champion of love across the continent. Thinks he’s an experienced drinker but cowers in the face of Schera’s drinking might.
Olivier's bodyguard, giant sword wielder, and best friend/eternal enemy of his liege. Another selling point is that Mueller is the older brother of Kurt, a character set to star in the upcoming Cold Steel III.
Olivier’s bodyguard and closest friend(?) as well as major in the Imperial Army’s 7th Armored Division.
She's a really good healer. And a princess. And she's really nice. And she's back in this game.
Otherwise known as Klaudia von Auslese and the crown princess of the Liberl Kingdom.
Her relationship with her grandmother the queen, along with her role and backstory in the previous games, were actually much more interesting than these snippets would have you believe. It's actually oddly difficult to briefly summarize this character. She's a worthy addition to the cast, for sure.
Previously only playable during the final chapter of SC, Julia is upgraded to permanent party member this time around. It's a good thing she's fighting with you, rather than against you, as she has in the past.
Captain of the Liberl Kingdom’s Royal Guard and Princess Klaudia’s loyal bodyguard.
A senior bracer for the Bracer Guild known as the Heavy Blade. Or he was, but now people just know him as that guy a certain adorable engineer has wrapped around her finger.
The best big brother, and an absolute physical powerhouse. What else do you want?
Another character who got a redesign, Tita returns for more antics with Agate. Perhaps we'll get to see more of her past, as well...
A young and exceptionally talented engineer from Zeiss and a professional handler of redheaded bracers.
Ice cream! Anelace was only briefly playable in SC, but she's here for the long game this time. Official cuteness aficionado and swordswoman extraordinaire, Anelace is quite possibly my favorite (mostly) new addition to the cast. She's also the granddaughter of Master Ka-fei, Rean's elusive master from Cold Steel. Cool, huh?
A senior bracer for the Bracer Guild and supporter of cute things far and wide. Remember: cuteness is justice! It’s the law!
The worst fighter in an RPG that isn't a straight up joke character. Good character from a narrative standpoint, but man was she was worthless in battle. Let's hope that's changed.
A former sky bandit-turned-delivery girl together with brothers Don and Kyle. You can always count on Capua!
The main antagonist of Sky FC returns as a redeemed man - and, more importantly, a playable man.
A former colonel in the Liberl Kingdom’s Royal Army and head of the now-dissolved Intelligence Division. People forget that he’s no longer a colonel. A lot.
Another antagonist-turned-protagonist, Renne is the impetus for Estelle and Joshua's journey. It's quite possible that she may end up being a link towards future games, as well. (Hint: She will)
Enforcer No. XV of Ouroboros, the Angel of Slaughter, and proof that terror comes in small packages.
The Celestial Doors - Moon, Star, and Sun
The game is largely about doors. I know that sounds boring, but it's far from it. Expect to be fully engrossed in the stories these doors have to tell.
Erected throughout Phantasma are doors which require specific conditions in order for them to be opened. Moon Doors provide lengthy backstories for characters met throughout Trails in the Sky, Star Doors share short stories that are just as memorable, and Sun doors contain a variety of fun minigames.
New Methods of Customization - Recluse Cube & Monuments
More detailed information on the game's new mechanics can be found on XSeed's official site.
This mysterious artifact allows for Kevin and Ries to take advantage of a variety of functions, including activating monuments within Phantasma. Once activated, they may restore your HP and EP for free, provide goods in exchange for mira, and other conveniences. Players can also warp to these monuments using the Recluse Cube any time.
Really, Really Good OST
Fighting Right On
Golden Road, Silver Road
Overdosing Heavenly Bliss
Is everyone ready for more Kevin?