Now That’s What I Call Combat Music.

The battle system is quite good, reminiscent of Grandia in that it’s turn-based, but both your turn order and battlefield positioning play important roles in the outcome of every fight. You’ll see a large stack of portraits in the top left corner representing when each of your allies and opponents will take their turns. To beat challenging bosses, you can use this to your advantage by casting spells that delay opponents and speed up your friends.


Trails in the Sky’s biggest selling point is that it’s a game for people who like to read. It’s a game for anyone who wants to dig into a brand new world and just explore, talking to every NPC and checking every hidden corner for secrets. Nearly every character in Trails, from shopkeepers to guardsmen, has a unique name and personality, and often they have their own little stories, too; keep talking to them between every plot point and you might see them fall in love with one another, or get married, or go traveling to other cities where you can find them and chat with them more.

Unlike many video games, the dialogue in Trails feels like a reward rather than a chore, especially when you’re investigating mysteries and solving unusual side quests. One optional mission in SC, for example, features a wife who asks you to beat her husband at poker so he’ll stop gambling so much. Another tasks you with investigating the mystery behind which member of a political campaign hit another in the back of the head. Both the main story and side quests unravel in delightful, twisty ways.


Like the PlayStation versions of Lunar: Silver Star and Lunar: Eternal Blue, Trails in the Sky is full of personality. The writing is generally excellent, and it’s really fun to watch the main character, a spunky warrior named Estelle, evolve from a peppy, somewhat spoiled brat to a badass, mature woman who can hold her own in just about any fight. The story starts off with her going off on a quest to hunt down her father, but it expands into much, much more. It’s a slow burn—and you have to know that if you start playing Trails, you’re committing to at least 100 hours worth of a meaty RPG—but it’s worth it.

It’s been a solid decade for JRPGs so far, don’t get me wrong. Other contenders for Best of the Decade include Ni no Kuni, Bravely Default, Radiant Historia, and The Last Story. Trails in the Sky beats them all.


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