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The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails – Review

It’s time to hack and slash through the world of Lost Haven in the latest remaster from The Legend of Heroes franchise. 

It’s no secret I *love* The Legend of Heroes and it will come as no shock to anyone that I have been eagerly awaiting the release of The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Originally released on the PSP, The Legend of Nayuta is an isolated story set on Remnant Island as young Nayuta and his friend Cygna embark on a new adventure when a fairy named Noi appears suddenly before them. Whisked away to the magical new world of Lost Haven, Nayuta resolves to help Noi restore her world and save it from an evil force which threatens to destroy both worlds.

Nayuta - a boy with blue hair - holds his sextant
Nayuta talks with cygna (a boy with brown hair) and Lyra (a girl with pink hair)

While The Legend of Nayuta does share some world similarities to Ys and the Trails series, such as the use of arts, Mira and the appearance of Mishy, it is not directly connected with either. The general game structure and UI is also reminiscent of each series with the story being broken down into chapters and side-quests becoming blocked when you progress the story.

The world of Lost Haven is broken into four continents, each with four levels and a longer two part “dungeon” level. Progressing the story will unlock stills to help with exploration and the ability to change the season, opening alternate versions of each level. Initially this will give you two seasons per continent which have three objectives to unlock. For each objective you complete, either finding all the gems, opening the treasure chest or doing a challenge, you will gain a star which unlocks new training opportunities back on Remnant Island. Collecting these wasn’t easy and required some puzzle solving, but are ultimately worth your time as you unlock extra sword combos and techniques to help you in battle.

An evil wizard with orange hair in front of a soldier in a golden mask

Together, Nayuta and Noi hack and slash their way through levels in a fun combat style which combines magic and swords to create something a lot more your average button basher. You unlock some of Noi’s spells through the story, but the majority have been “stolen” and given to powerful monsters scattered throughout the levels. There are loads to choose from and you can eventually equip four to cycle through, allowing you to arrange them in a way which best suits your play style. Personally, I had a skill from each season with high attack rates so I could fire off as many shots at once and allow them to recharge while I used another skill. However, the more powerful spells caused tremendous damage but only stocked one or two hits stocked with a far longer recharge time so it was usually a good idea to keep one of these ready for an emergency. They also level up the more you use them, so it’s a good idea to switch them about while keeping gameplay fresh.

The game does have difficulty settings for anyone looking for a more story driven adventure, but the combat can be challenging especially with some of the more powerful enemies. This isn’t a complaint, far from it, beating some of the latter boss battles gave me some shadow of what it must feel like to defeat From Soft bosses, but it does put The Legend of Nayuta closer to Ys in terms of gameplay rather than the turn-based Trails of Cold Steel.

a girl with silver hair asks "who are you?"

This latest version is no mere port with plenty of quality-of-life upgrades, graphical improvements, new character arts and English voice acting. It already looked pretty nice on the PSP with a unique kind of cell-shaded chibi-anime art style, but the sharpness and level of detail with the new artwork is adorable. When combined with the beautiful level design and orchestral overtures, this magical fantasy world really comes alive. My enjoyment exploring the levels again and again over different seasons never really waned as each new environment offers something different in terms of platforming and enemies. Things like hidden paths and using your shields to run over lava or raise you above the water make use of the whole environment and kept it fresh.

Nayuta battling through a colourful zone

The only thing I will say about the handling is there’s a skill which allows you to grab onto floating cogs and traverse levels. Switching between these cogs is a talent I seemingly lack as I was yeeted this way and that, and often found myself falling to my doom. Thankfully, the penalty for doing so is negligibly small so it wasn’t much more than a slight frustration, but it did come into play with the bosses.

Nayuta and Noi standing on a pier

I could probably write an article about the bosses alone, but I shall show restraint. They were fun, challenging and over-the-top in all the best possible ways. There were level ups and variations in attack patterns which kept me on my toes. Dynamic camera movements help illustrate the scale of the battles as you utilise all of your skills to win. I wasn’t even mad they reused some of the earlier boss battles with the difficulty hiked up and even went back to try beat them on time trial after unlocking it with New Game+.

The character designs are also pretty unique and interesting making the island feel a lot busier than it actually was. With each new chapter of the story, the village changes. Each house and shop have a family, a history or a purpose, making it feel lived in, and ultimately raising the stakes as things take a turn for the worst.

Noi saying "I-I mean sure, but..." to Nayuta and Cygna

Coming into The Legend of Nayuta after playing Trails into Reverie (my 100% game of the year), I worry I may be too harsh on a remaster of a PSP game, but I wanted more. You can see everything that I consistently praise Falcom for – the writing, the character development, the subtle world building – but there were some story points which I felt made sudden jumps due to the ambiguity of the timeline. I’m still unsure if the main story took place over a week or several months, but they packed a lot in for what is easily a 30 hour game.

I say main story, but the end game is more of an epilogue than true end game content and accounted for the bulk of my playtime. It takes place a year after the main plot but contains much of the exposition required to wrap everything up into a nice neat package. It unlocks the remaining seasons for completionists and some new quests with a few more super difficult bosses to challenge before moving onto New Game+ where you can find even more.

Nayuta and Cygna talking. Cygna says "Don't you hey Cygna me."

There’s no fishing, but monsters drop materials which you can use for cooking. It’s a simple collect the items and pick from a menu, but the different recipes give HP and EXP as well as different buffs when you eat them, so choosing the correct meal can really make or break you in the correct circumstances.

Neither truly retro nor fully modern, The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails sits in a nice sweet spot which combines short bursts of intense gameplay, engaging challenges and decent plot with all the modern bells and whistles to make it a great introduction to the franchise for many gamers.

8.5/10 star rating

Initial release date: 26 July 2012

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Portable

Genres: Action role-playing game, Adventure game, Platform game, Fighting game

Developers: Nihon Falcom, PH3 GmbH, NIHON FALCOM CORPORATION

Publishers: Nihon Falcom, NIS America, Clouded Leopard Entertainment





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