We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.

North America

Trails Through Daybreak (Switch) Review

by Jordan Rudek - June 28, 2024, 9:00 am EDT
Discuss in talkback!


A new region and revamped combat make for a fresh new Trails series RPG.

Having played all of the recent Nihon Falcom Trails games to come to Switch, I was particularly excited to get my hands on Trails Through Daybreak, the latest entry in The Legend of Heroes franchise to receive a localized release. Daybreak skews a bit more down to earth and mature in tone and subject, and it makes fairly sizable overhauls to its battle system, including action combat that can be initiated against non-boss enemies. It keeps a lot of what has worked from Cold Steel and Reverie, but takes a slightly different approach across its 50-plus hour story, and these changes give the game a much needed refresh.

Trails Through Daybreak follows the exploits of Van Arkride, also referred to as the spriggan, who operates between the lines of law and legality and takes random jobs posted specifically for him on bulletin boards. His firm, Arkride Solutions, helps those in need (for a price) and throughout the course of the game he brings in assistants to help with the business and also to solve the mystery of a special object brought to him by Agnes, the first character to join your crew. The detective agency-like setup of Daybreak works well, and it suits the hard-nosed Van well, helping to distinguish him as a protagonist from Rean and Lloyd before him.

You spend a fair amount of your time in Edith, the capital city of Calvard, which is the oft-mentioned region of Zemuria that Trails fans had yet to visit. Rather than taking a train between different cities, Van drives the group around in his truck, one of his most prized possessions. The road trips in each chapter allow for fun bonding moments between the growing staff of Arkride Solutions, and the smaller overall cast compared to games like Cold Steel 4 and Trails Into Reverie make it easier to develop a fondness for each individual. The excellent localization and convincing voice work also go a long way towards making the cast so endearing.

Most of the game's lengthy chapters follow a similar pattern of patrolling Edith, searching for requests to tackle, accepting an invitation or job in a different city, and discovering a plot thread that connects to the main story. The narrative loop works quite well, but at times it can feel like the combat is either a little sparse or thrown together all at once. Fortunately, the story on its own is quite compelling, and the character interactions, both optional and required, are a healthy blend of touching, entertaining, and hilarious. It's the adjustments to combat, though, that genuinely deserve to be highlighted.

When you enter a dungeon, you'll see enemies roaming around as in previous Trails titles. The difference here is that you can defeat them without entering a turn-based battle, just by slashing or stabbing at them until their health meter is whittled away to nothing. A meter builds as you attack that allows you to perform a more powerful strike, which can help you stun these enemies. At any time you can press a button to shift into turn-based mode, and you'll get a bonus shot at them if you make that shift when enemies are incapacitated. Being able to grind a bit more quickly by playing parts of the dungeons like an action RPG made for a welcome change of pace in a long game with plenty of required turn-based battles.

That said, even when the proceedings do shift to turn-based, there's more incentive for moving your characters around the battlefield than ever before. In addition to getting into range for basic attacks or magic spells, you can activate bonuses by striking enemies from the side or back, and characters that attack when next to another party member will prompt a follow-up hit. A new mechanic called the Shard System is also involved in turn-based combat, and characters will bestow shields and other bonuses based on meeting specific Shard-related criteria. I wasn't always sure how and why things were happening, but it was still a blast seeing it all play out.

Multiple times each chapter I would be surprised by the mature tone and language of the conversations happening. Expect more cursing, innuendo, and suggestive language from the older members of Van's retinue. These don't feel out of place, however, given the (slightly) more realistic plot and the part hard-nosed, part hard-boiled hero of the story. Daybreak succeeds in breaking away from the more innocent and the more fantastical, at least until its final chapters.

The soundtrack is a major strength of Trails Through Daybreak, approaching some of the best work we've heard from Nihon Falcom. The visual style is mostly the same that we've seen this generation, but it still manages to get the job done. Switch performance isn't nearly as bad as it was with Trails Into Reverie; that's the good news. The bad news is that pop-in is so frequent that you may find yourself waiting for key NPCs to actually appear on screen before you can interact with them. Slowdown is present in a number of sequences, but again it wasn't as distracting as in Reverie. That said, I'm still eager to see these incredible RPGs running on better Nintendo hardware.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak is a standout entry in this long-running franchise that I affectionately refer to as the best RPGs you've never played. Van is a charming and vocal protagonist who gives as good as he gets, and rest assured, he isn't shy about giving a loving head patting when the opportunity arises. Those who have played earlier Trails games will enjoy the returning characters, mentions, and nods to earlier events and people, but even if you're an RPG player unfamiliar with the Trails games, you'll find plenty of reasons to sink your teeth into this latest one. It's no surprise that the hero of Daybreak has a proclivity towards indulging in cakes and pastries; he happens to star in one hell of a sweet adventure.


  • Compelling story and characters
  • Excellent writing and voice work
  • Fresh action elements
  • Switch performance still underwhelms

Share + Bookmark


Game Profile

Genre RPG
Developer Falcom

Worldwide Releases

na: The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak
Release Jul 05, 2024
PublisherNIS America
jpn: Kuro No Kiseki
Release Feb 15, 2024
Got a news tip? Send it in!