Having only relatively recently gotten into the Trails series, I’m always happy to explore new branches of this huge connected universe of JRPGs. Trails from Zero was definitely a great place to start, confining myself to a single arc of the overarching story, but when Trails into Reverie released with decades of games leading up to it I felt pretty out of my depth. Surely a nice little spinoff game wouldn’t be quite so dense with references though, so here I am jumping back into this series with The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails.
The Legend of Nayuta was originally a PSP game released exclusively in Japan in 2012, much like the Crossbell arc of the Trails series that was recently remastered and translated. It was actually the final game in the series that Falcom released on the PSP, before the Vita became the console of choice for their flagship chunky RPGs. Fans have been clamouring for this final piece of the Trails puzzle for a long time, and once again NIS have delivered.
Starring the titular protagonist Nayuta, the story of Boundless Trails is simple but suitably charming. On his home on Remnant Isle mysterious relics called star fragments fall from the sky. When looked through these shiny gems reveal other worlds, and our adventurous young hero finds this fascinating. After a long trip away Nayuta is looking forward to a more relaxing summer doing odd jobs with his best friend, when a massive temple falls from the sky on the beach. While investigating the ruins of this structure, the duo stumble into a real bad guy, a fairy, and eventually end up hopping between worlds together to save the day. Don’t go into The Legend of Nayuta expecting the narrative of a mainline trails game, because the focus is more on the action.
Unlike the turn based combat of the games that came before it, The Legend of Nayuta has more of an action packed Ys style approach to RPG gameplay. The game is split up into bite size stages that contain enemies, puzzles and collectables, and your objective is to get to the goal while hopefully gathering as many bits and bobs as possible along the way.
Nayuta has a few tricks up his sleeve even at the start of the game, with a handy sword combo, a dodge roll and a double jump to get around the luscious levels of the game. You also have a little fairy companion who aids you on your adventure, who can fire projectiles initially with plenty of scope to upgrade as you progress in the game. Nayuta gains extra abilities too for completing extra objectives throughout the stages, and by the end of the game has a handy selection of sword skills to kick the butts of the baddies.
Using your combat abilities to kill enemies is pretty straightforward, but the puzzles and getting to explore the stages ensure that Legend of Nayuta doesn’t get dull. Collecting gems and completing the secondary tasks will mean you have all sorts of extra currency to spend back in town to upgrade your kit, so thoroughly sweeping through levels is well worth doing.
When you aren’t swashbuckling out in the other worlds, Nayuta is determined to keep his odd job business up and running. This generally means talking to different villagers and completing fetch quests for them, which probably doesn’t sound fun but is actually a nice change of pace.
I actually think that’s what The Legend of Nayuta does best. The pacing of the game is great, and the gameplay loop is varied and engaging throughout. No specific element of the game is particularly spectacular, but it’s very much better than the sum of its parts.
Admittedly the charm of the lower quality PSP character models will be lost on some people, and especially compared to the anime style characters that pop up when they talk it’s pretty jarring. No matter how much polish is put on The Legend of Nayuta it’s always going to be a portable game from over a decade ago, and if that’s not something you can deal with then there are plenty of more modern RPGs to play instead.
The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails is an entertaining action RPG that kept my attention from start to finish, with a well paced gameplay loop and a variety of things to do. It might not be the most revolutionary game you play this year, but you could do a lot worse than sinking some time into this dimension hopping adventure.
An entertaining action spin off of the Trails games
A nice, varied gameplay loop
Better than the sum of its parts
A great game finally localised
Story isn't particularly spectacular
No real standout element