Let's be honest--July isn't one of the most thrilling months in gaming. Instead, it's part of a summer lull. All the announcements and excitement of E3 has passed, and most game releases are scheduled for that October to November sweet spot to capitalize on holiday sales. But there is one major debut everyone should be excited about: The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is a remarkable game. It's the first installment in a trilogy of games and has all the hallmarks of a stereotypical JRPG. It's set in a turbulent world which has only known peace for 10 years after a devastating war. The heroes are notable, as they're the children of a former war hero and legend. Though while Estelle Bright is his natural daughter, Joshua Bright's origins are more uncertain. Naturally, both are teenagers, eager to join a Bracers' mercenary guild, and take on missions around the world.
Yet once you get beyond the initial, familiar tropes, it's easy to see why The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is such a special game. To start, it's huge. Estelle and Joshua are able to journey across all of Liberl Kingdom, and it's easy for players to get caught up in the details. There's an in-game newspaper that actually keeps up with current events. Players can actually choose responses to situations, which influences future quests and events within the game. There are also a striking number of Bracers' Guild quests, with some only appearing if people make certain decisions.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is also quite remarkable when it comes to the story. I hesitate to say anything, seeing as how there are so many spoilers and we won't be seeing the sequel, Trails in the Sky Second Chapter, until much later this year. Suffice to say, it may seem like it's following various JRPG stereotypes, then completely defy them later in the tale. Your initial impressions are constantly being challenged. A player can be lead into thinking one thing about a character, then find everything turned on its head in a few hours. It's satisfying.
It's also notable for anyone who's looking for more gender equality in games. While there are two Bright children leading the charge throughout The Legend of Heroes: Trail in the Sky, Estelle Bright is the driving force of the game. She's easily the most important character and her influence is absolute. She is just such a strong character, physically and mentally, that I'm constantly surprised when I don't see people putting her forward as an example of everything a good heroine should be.
We should all be buzzing about The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. Yes, it's an old game--one that originally came to Japanese PCs in 2004 and PSPs in 2006. True, it was released in English on the PSP in 2011. Yet it's only now, in 2014, that this game will finally have the opportunity to reach a gigantic audience that will appreciate its story, details, and magnitude. We should all be on edge, checking every moment to see if it's July 29, 2014 yet.