Trails Series Journal: Week X+2

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escapevelocity

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Edited By escapevelocity

Here we go, rambling on. Since last week's was unnecessarily long and mostly just a recap of FC, this time is a short as possible catch-up to where I'm currently at in SC. Again, Spoilers abound. (Also I'll probably just post these only to my profile after this one, since it seems kind of rude to fill up the game page forums with blog posts meant for myself.)

Prologue

Wow, did not expect the game to literally pick up where we left off in FC; I guess it's no exaggeration to say FC and SC were just one game that got split in two last second (which is, I think, what the devs said too). I was thinking we'd at least skip around until we're back in Rolent or something, but... nope, wake up in the Grancel castle again, Joshua's gone for maybe a couple hours, and Estelle is shaken to her core. I very much appreciate Schera being the mature "older sis" and calling out Joshua's selfish way of seeing himself out to "protect her from him" (I mean c'mon man, he just took her first kiss, roofied her, and went "Peace I'm out"). It's great to see such an old game properly downplaying that kind of romanticized "manliness"... even if the game has some questionable statements some other times. Product of the times I guess.

As for the new character: Ohhh boy does this Kevin dude look sketch. Kansai dialect in an anime game? Way too friendly? Shows up at the most convenient moment? Checks all the boxes for a late game "gotcha bitch" reveal.

The other "new" character: Anelace is great! She has a great moveset, great chemistry with Estelle, and her very forward-facing attitude and personality is never unwelcome. I think the fluidity of the party roster is something that's very unique and interesting to the Trails series too; Without having to cater to player comfort and making every party member available at all times, they really make the story telling feel much more natural.

Poor Kurt.

Chapter 1

I love that Ruan is the first town we're back to in SC: I love how the town looks, the music is nice, and I'm sure we all remember the school play bit of the story from FC very fondly.

I chose Agate to join Estelle in the investigation first, and (without knowing how the dialogue and story goes with Schera) it seems to have been the right choice. I've always felt that Agate seemed underdeveloped in FC, even though he seems like he could be a very good character. Complex background, great fight style, rivalry with the "strongest bad guy", tsundere personality, blazin' red hair... what's not to like. But man, the chilled-out version of Agate we get in SC just makes everything so much better. Now with the kind of older-brother-ish maturity and mutual respect he shows to Estelle, his surface level brashness and confidence just seems lovable. Well done, Falcom.

It's also great that we get Olivier and Kloe right off the bat with this composition too, since we have the physical DPS in Agate, the tank/support in Estelle, magic DPS in Olivier, and secondary magic DPS/support in Kloe. Actually might make things harder if you chose Schera over Agate, since you'd be lacking a physical DPS...

Bleublanc? Also great. I've already played Cold Steel 1, but I didn't expect he was such a major player in the larger story!

Chapter 2

Back to Zeiss! Another fun city, with all the labs in the workshop and Antoine, the best cat ever. I kind of love and hate the somewhat modular structure the story is starting to take, with seemingly short stories and small conflicts that end with an Enforcer reveal. After the slow burn of FC, the quick pace of the story here is enjoyable... but also feels long when looked at from a distance, because of the predictable structure and somewhat unexciting conflicts. Not a big deal so far, but I hope it gets better.

Also, welcome back Tita! More games should have Engineer Machine Gun Lolis. The nerf on her smoke cannon Craft is slightly annoying, but understandable... it was kind of too powerful in FC. However, seeing all these enemies with SO MANY status ailment resistances gives me the impression that the battle system might get a little too one-note, with more interesting strats being completely overshadowed by brute force tactics.

This chapter felt more of just a character re/introduction, with Good Guy Zin coming back and introducing his arch nemesis, Walter the Direwolf (Who is, so far, a fairly uninteresting character despite the name). Overall pretty meh of a chapter.

Chapter 3

Here we go, the little push towards story development that was sorely missing, as the crew heads back to Grancel! The subquests in the sewers are kind of annoying as usual, but the story finally feels a little more interesting, with two reveals that seem important for the rest of this game. As expected, Kevin is an undercover agent of sorts, with ulterior motives... though he seems to be hiding more than he lets out here. And the little girl from a previous chapter is revealed to be yet another Enforcer (jesus how many of them are there). What is it with JRPGs and their love for psychopathic lolis? It seems like the crew wants to help this girl out (you know, because children are always redeemable even if they're murderous devil children), so she'll probably be a big part of the story moving forward.

This chapter felt like it showcased one of the greatest things about the Trails universe, detailing out the political standings of the countries in the region. Being able to visit the Erebonian and Calvardian embassies were great from a world building standpoint, and the ambassadors themselves being much more "human" than they let off in their previous appearance is exactly what I'd expect from the exquisite NPC work from Falcom. It's such a small point, but I love that the Erebonian ambassador starts off the conversation by continuing his "huge asshole" persona from the previous chapter, but he quickly calms down and shows his caring and respectful side by the end of the conversation. This is what makes the writing in Trails (so far at least) feel so comfortable to read, IMO.

Also concerning Renne and her Pater-Mater: I'm not a huge fan of most the mech design (looks like just another generic JRPG robot), but the name is fucking perfection. It's SO GUNDAM, with a translation that makes it sound super silly, and having that bouncy(?) little rhyme to its name. I LOVE it. Also Renne riding on its palm to fly away in classic villain fashion is greatly enjoyable too.

Early Chapter 4

We get to see what Joshua's been up to with the Capua family. Cool! Also the fight with Mueller was pretty interesting.

I really hope we can get Joshua to snap out of his emo phase soon, as it's getting REAL cringey and annoying already, not even half way through the game. He's almost like one of those shitty self-insert MCs in recent "isekai" light novel animes...

And back to Rolent! I just love the way the townsfolk treat Estelle, welcoming her back home with neighborly love and affection. Such a wholesome little RPG, this one.

Alright, and now for another week of trying to find time to play a long ass JRPG while weaving through work... I feel like I complained a lot about the story so far, but the overall writing quality is still very enjoyable, making even the "boring" parts fairly painless to play. Can't wait for more, good job Falcom!

Also, if anyone feels like putting in their 2 cents, I'm all ears. Cheers!

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CommodoreGroovy

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Glad you're enjoying it! I don't really have much to comment on other than I look forward to reading more of your adventures in Trails land.

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escapevelocity

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@commodoregroovy: Wow thanks! It's nice to hear my ramblings are entertaining someone. IDK if I'd be able to keep this up as a weekly thing once the quarantine ends, but the plan is to go as far as possible into the series!

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Genessee

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Oh wow have you got some revelations about some people you described lol

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escapevelocity

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@genessee: These characters are fun to think about for sure! The first Cold Steel game had some nice twists and turns too, so my hopes are high that Sky delivers in a similar way.