Charting the Trails: Should You Start with The Legend of Heroes – Trails Through Daybreak

After years of anticipation, western fans will finally get their hands on The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak (Kuro No Kiseki) next summer. This marks the 12th installment in the Trails/Kiseki franchise, and with each new entry, RPG enthusiasts are left with one burning question: Can I dive into Trails Through Daybreak without any prior experience with the previous 11 games? Allow me to tackle that question for you.

Can you play Trails Through Daybreak without having ventured through the previous 11 games? The short answer is a resounding yes. You can indeed embark on this journey without any prior knowledge of the franchise’s earlier installments. However, the real inquiry, the one that truly matters, is this: Should you embark on this adventure without the background of the previous games? And a subsequent question follows: Can you fully savor this experience as your starting point?

The consensus within the fandom is that it’s advisable to play all 11 games in their release order before delving into Trails Through Daybreak. However, let’s introduce a bit of nuance to this discussion, particularly when it comes to the Calvard arc. I say this from personal experience, having already delved into Kuro No Kiseki on PC earlier this year. There are some intricacies here that warrant exploration when addressing these questions.

The Cold Steel arc served as the nexus, the focal point where the myriad stories from the franchise, both old and new, converged, ultimately culminating in the grand confrontation of Trails into Reverie. As a result, numerous characters, plotlines, events, and story elements from the Trails in the Sky trilogy and Trails from Zero duology were not only referenced in Cold Steel but also carried forward to their resolution. In essence, more than a third of Cold Steel’s narrative is interwoven with elements from previous chapters. Without the context provided by those earlier games, these elements lose some of their impact and significance. It’s challenging to divorce Cold Steel’s story from the broader tapestry of Trails. Therefore, it’s generally recommended to acquaint oneself with the previous and concurrent games when embarking on Cold Steel.

However, Trails Through Daybreak introduces a fresh arc set in the country of Calvard. While Calvard is frequently mentioned and referenced in Cold Steel and Zero/Azure, the new installment doesn’t rely as heavily on past plot threads. Daybreak introduces an array of new concepts, themes, plot points, characters, and locations, offering a sense of a clean slate. Don’t misinterpret this assessment, though. If you’ve played the previous games, there are certainly payoffs in Daybreak, albeit not as substantial as what Cold Steel offered.

In a nutshell, you can most certainly enjoy Trails Through Daybreak without having experienced the previous games. If you find yourself captivated by Daybreak, it might even serve as the catalyst to explore the rich tapestry of the franchise’s earlier chapters. The Trails series boasts a wealth of content and a devoted following. And if you’re curious about what makes Falcom’s creations so special, be sure to check out the captivating video below. It’s a great time to immerse yourself in this fantastic world of JRPGs.

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