The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

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a game by Nihon Falcom
Platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 3
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 2 reviews
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 4 votes
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See also: Anime Games, JRPG Games, Legend of Heroes Series
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

JPRGs are a dime a dozen, but no series has managed to stay around quite like the Legend of Heroes series, as well as its splinter sister the Trails series. These games have amassed quite a large following both in Japan and abroad, and the games have been brought to even more players thanks to a PS4 port of the original The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel game for the PlayStation 3.

Building A World

The Legend of Heroes series has been going since the 1980s. Because of this, the games have amassed quite an overwhelming amount of lore, plot and characters that might scare away potential newcomers to the series. Thankfully, Trails of Cold Steel does a solid amount in welcoming new players with open arms, without alienating long-time fans.

Players can expect an absolutely massive amount of world building and lore to sink their teeth into. Set in Erebonia, a huge country with a variety of political and societal issues, the game puts players into the shoes of Rean Schwarzer. Rean and his other classmates of Thors Military Academy’s class 7 are given ample opportunity to get to know one another, which fans of games like Persona or Fire Emblem: Three Houses will love.

The majority of the game will see players travelling across Erebonia on field trips, gaining knowledge and insight of the country’s many issues. While the moment to moment experience of these trips isn’t anything particularly spectacular or action packed, it allows players to gain a detailed view of the game world, which eventually develops into a fantastically nuanced experience as the narrative comes to a head.

Cast Of Characters

One of the clearest strengths of Trails of Cold Steel is the effort it puts towards its many characters. Specifically, your fellow classmates of class 7 are all given plenty of time for their personalities, voices and motivations to develop. Because of the slow pace that the game has, the characters are unveiled at a natural and organic speed that leaves the characters feeling like actual people rather than tropes or stock characters.

This quality extends to voice acting as well. Although the game isn’t voice acted all the way through, all the major parts of the plot are, helping to add a bit of gravitas to the more significant part of the story. That said, the rest of the game is not voice acted, meaning there’s a lot of reading.

Cold Steel Combat

As far as JRPGs go, Trails of Cold Steel doesn’t bring anything new to the table to the mechanics of turn-based combat. With up to 6 characters in your battle party, each combat instance features all the things you would expect from a game like this. You’ll have the option to attack, use items, craft, magic spells and more.

There is a fair amount of maneuverability through the option to manually move your character around the battlefield, but this mechanic often feels like a waste of a move and not viable in many scenarios.

6

Trails of Cold Steel is the perfect chance to jump into a series that you might’ve missed originally. With an upgrade to the PS4, this extensive RPG has never looked better. And with the high quality of the original game’s writing still shining throughout, this is a JRPG that belongs in every fan’s game library.

PROS:

  • Huge amount of detail and cohesion with world building and narrative
  • Lots of time to get to know characters
  • Great cast of characters, all with their own unique voices and motivations

CONS:

  • Extremely slow pace will put off many players
  • Not fully voice acted, so requires a fair amount of reading
  • Combat is fairly standard and doesn’t bring anything new to the genre

Download The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Playstation 4

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Playstation 3

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

With so many JRPGs released, spanning tons of franchises and installments, it can often be difficult to know where to start—but as a remarkable entry in the Legends of Heroes franchise, Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is a must play for the genre. Similar, and perhaps inspired by the likes of the Final Fantasy and Persona series, Trails of Cold Steel is a full-fledged JRPG with all the wonderful aspects you come to expect: rich characters, fully realized world-building, intense combat and a compelling story. Released as the first in the Trails of Cold Steel subheading that follows a specific group of characters through The Legend of Heroes Universe, there is no better place to begin the series.

Come for the Style, Stay for the World

One of the single most amazing aspects of Trails of Cold Steel strikes you immediately, and that is the world. The history, characters, and depth of Erebonia as a country beset on all sides by opposing countries is rich with lore, conflict of competing noble factions and imperial government—and, the fully explored life of protagonist Rean as he works to unfold all of its secrets as you, the player, does too. In a story reminiscent of entries of the Fire Emblem series, Rean starts off in a military academy with other students and is involved in a specialized training which offers wonderful growth between him and compatriots—and also the nuance of Thor’s Academy set within the world as a whole. In essence, it’s a wonderful introduction that has you clamoring to see more outside the academy’s walls.

Take Your Time

The strength of Trails of Cold Steel could also be regarded as a weakness to some players. In following Class 7 through different field trips that explore the world and uncover themes of political strife and person character dramas, there can be a good bit of down time between action pieces. Although the action pieces have compelling build, that can still leave the game feeling less game-like in the time between—and in so doing, turn away some players. However, if you push through those more meandering moments there are some amazing set-pieces that add gravitas to the combat encounters.

Nothing Unique, But Everything Solid

Beyond the world and the rich characters of Class 7, Trails of Cold Steel offers very traditional turn-based combat. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does make that wheel very polished, refined and fully functional. Turn-based combat is consistently engaging, though sometimes feels like a relic of older Final Fantasy entries. The best part about its combat is the unpredictability of what characters will be on the adventure with you—forcing you to get to know more than just the main people and seeing the value in each of your large party makes for a lot of inherent variety in the Xenoblade saga type battles.

Conclusion

Trails of Cold Steel has everything a JRPG lover needs to make a compelling series. With amazing character development, extensive customization, a rich world and tons to do—it is a must play entry in a, sometimes overwhelming, genre.

8

Not to mention, Trails of Cold Steel is the first entry of its own branching series of Legend of Heroes that follows the characters here that you come to love.

Pros

  • Remarkable world-building
  • Solid gameplay mechanics all-around
  • Great cast of characters
  • Continual rising tension in main storyline

Cons

  • Nothing overly unique in gameplay
  • Lots of downtime between action pieces

Snapshots and Media

PC Screenshots

Playstation 4 Screenshots

Playstation 3 Screenshots

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