This game came so highly recommended that I’ve kept playing it, waiting it to turn into something good. About two thirds the way through the game, I realized that I am never going to warm up to it. This game is never going to morph into something else and it is not really what I want to play. Trails in the Sky does what it does very well, I am just not particularly interested in playing it.
Most of the things I really love about JRPGs aren’t really part of Trails in the Sky. The sense of world spanning adventure, like the 8 and 16-bit Final Fantasies all the way up to Skies of Arcadia and Xenoblade, is largely absent. Or strong, interesting battle systems. Or any system of character building. Trails in the Sky seems to be largely disinterested either of those things. That isn’t really a complaint. Not all games have to be all things, but I went in expecting one thing and got something entirely different.
Trails in the Sky’s battle system is fine, but the game doesn’t give the player a lot of opportunities to explore it. In the first half of the game there are only a few interesting battles and the game keeps rotating the last party member so you can’t get a feel for any sort of party cohesion. I am sure there are more efficient ways to get through some of the battles, but the game doesn’t really give the player the chance to explore their options.
As for a sense of exploration, the game has almost nothing to offer. Every area is just a largely well-rendered corridor. Exploration isn’t just not encouraged, it is all but impossible. It reminds me a lot of FFXIII, with its forcing the player to go a certain way, with no chance to backtrack or look around. Again, this is clearly not the game’s focus, but it is disappointing in a game sold to me as a classic JRPG adventure.
Then there is the story, in many ways the game’s greatest strength. Even that left me cold. Not that it is not effective in its storytelling, it is. But that it is inefficient. Trails in the Sky seems to be written on the assumption that anything one line of dialogue can do, three lines can do better. Every conversation runs on longer than it has any reason to, until any interest in the game’s forward momentum is lost. Expecting that to change after the halfway mark is a fool’s game. Trails in the Sky is what it is. I don’t begrudge the people who enjoy it their fun, but I don’t have time for it.