The Playstation Portable was an RPG machine in its prime. The platform helped launch a good number of franchises, but none have been more successful than the Trails series, which has spawned a heavy amount of sequels and spin-offs during the past two decades. The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails may have been a once exclusive to the east, but now NIS are bringing it to the west with a full facelift, launching on mostly modern platforms. Does this tale warrant your newfound attention? Let’s find out.
Players take control of a young researcher named Nayuta in this adventure, where he sets out to explore the world. After meeting a fairy named Noi, he sets out to stop an evil by traveling far and wide with his childhood frien. The game basically is about world exploration and locating new characters, who frequent Remnant Island and grow with the story, so each visit back is satisfying and warm. Yes, this is a cozy RPG and while there is a dire threat, it really isn’t anything too deep or intimidating for anyone new with the trials franchise, as it is a very standalone experience with a lot to say by its own merits. I admit, I was a little taken back by the changes, but this is a far more cozy adventure, and a welcome note in a franchise that usually dives deep into places that newer players may find a bit daunting by comparison.
As far as combat goes, there really is a solid and fluid action/hack and slash element that works well to keep the game relatively accessible and simple throughout. That doesn’t mean that it is really “easy”, but it is more streamlined and linear than other Falcom entries to date. Players have their basic attacks abd equip-able magic known as “arts”, which are all easy and execute and understand due to a well-rounded UI and control system that feels easy to pick up and play. The game also separates its stages with an overworld, so players can hop in and out of levels so they can collect new items and get higher star rankings as they progress.
While the battle mechanics work well, the platforming is also rather unique here, as part of each stage’s exploration relies on navigating each level that come off as varied and interesting. Most are based off different types of biomes that change the type of level design to keep the worlds fresh. Sure, this was nice, but the platforming still feels a bit dated and rough at times, leading to moments where I had to realign and go at sections again just to get the right footing. That said, most who understand how the games of this era played will be content, as things are straightforward enough to never feel truly cumbersome, no matter how imprecise the landings may be.
As a whole, there is something really rewarding and genuine about the world that was designed here. In some ways, the star system makes it feel like a mobile title, begging for replay-ability. That said, it still stands on its own and never feels cheap because of those mechanics, instead more thought out for completionists.
The soundtrack is stellar from top to bottom. While not every track is as strong as the next, the level of quality has certainly carried over from other Falcom titles, and that will be welcome for those ready to dip their toe into this little adventure. The voice acting is fine enough, as while the game is not completely voiced, the characters still manage to have a lot of personality by the decent performances made by the cast within.
Visually, I think this title is a stunner. For a PSP title, there are just so many colors and little details that make this world feel rich and memorizing. That said, even though there are graphical upgrades, the game still is going to look a bit dated, simply due to it being a port. I guess that is to be expected, but I honestly think the audience that this title is made for will find it traditional enough to jump in without worry of it looking a bit on the older side.
In the past year or so, a lot of conversation has come up over “cozy games”, and what qualifies. If you’re familiar with this era of RPGs, The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails is absolutely in that category. Despite its limited scope, there is a ton of content and the simplicity of its design make it easy to come and go as you please, which adds to its appeal greatly. This adventure is one that may not be as memorable as some of the AAA titles out there, but it really isn’t meant to be now, and wasn’t really then. This is a B-grade RPG that has a lot of heart, and is sure to act as a nice palette cleanse to those looking for something nostalgic to chew on.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.