The Legend of Heroes is an extremely well known series among the JRPG fans. The series started its way back on the PSP and it wasn’t until Trails in the Sky First Chapter was released that it gained some popularity, and essentially became a cult hit.
Trails in the Sky was released for the PSP and PC meanwhile Trails of Cold Steel is available for the PS3 and PS Vita. While the stories aren’t linked in both games, they do share some of the mythologies and world of The Legend of Heroes series.
Trails of Cold Steel II continues the story presented in the first part, which ended with a cliffhanger. Despite the game having a short summary breakdown presented in the form of a visual novel, it is highly recommended to play the first part before jumping into this sequel, as the summary doesn’t capture all the brilliance of the full game.
Since the story directly picks up from the cliffhanger ending, we shortly assume control of Rean Schwarzer, who is main protagonist of the game. The game opens with Rean waking up near his hometown after the final battle in part 1. Since the events leading to the final battle sparked a conflict in the world, the rest of his friends have all hidden across the country. The first couple of hours of the game require visiting a lot of familiar locations as Rean reunites with his friends.
The gameplay of Trails of Cold Steel is turn-based and relies on a variety of outcomes to provide a satisfying combat system. The battles work in a party based system where each character can execute one command, either attack, escape, move or use a special skill. The distance from enemies and the formation of party members all matter in the battle, creating a strategical layer to it.
Aside from having a standard attack, the characters can also use their own combat skills or magical arts in battle. They can also execute “S-Break” attacks that have the potential to interrupt the attack of the enemy. Considering the wealth of customization options available for each of the character, there is a huge potential to experiment in battle.
Character relationships also play a role in the battle system. Linking two characters can allow the second character to execute an attack provided the enemy is knocked down with the first attack. Linking in combat also raises the relationship status of the characters that are linked, giving further incentive to utilize this system. If the bond between two characters is strong, it will unlock more powerful attack combinations in battle. There is also an overdrive mode that allows multiple attacks in addition to giving all arts an instant casting time.
The battle system takes up an entirely different approach as we progress further in the story. Once Rean is able to take control of a mech called Valimar, he will be able to battle other mechs, resulting in a shift in tone for the combat system. For mech battles, the players can target either the head, arms or body of the enemy mech and depending on the outcome of the attack, the enemy mech can be knocked out, resulting in the ability to deliver an additional attack. This is a crucial strategy in the later parts of the game and knowing the weakness of enemy is essential in executing it.
If you wanted an RPG with towns to explore, then you will feel right at home with Trails of Cold Steel II. The game doesn’t shy away from offering exploration and extra content. There are also some mini games including fishing, which provides extra income and is an integral part of the game even at the start. Ream will be able to get a motorcycle as the story progresses in addition to various other vehicles, which adds to the already impressive wealth of content in the game
Trails of Cold Steel II is available for the PS Vita and PS3 and while we reviewed the PS Vita version of the game, we were impressed with the graphical quality. The game’s art style still holds well resulting in an engaging experience when exploring the world. There is a slight disadvantage on the PS Vita where the frame rate can drop at times, mostly in towns where there are NPCs around, but it is not really a deal breaker. The combat being turn-based means the frame rate drops don’t really have much of an impact here.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is the ultimate JRPG experience for fans of the series. It has well established characters, an engaging story, an excellent turn-based combat system along with a wealth of content. If you are starving for a good JRPG, this is a must buy!
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is available now for the PS Vita and PS3. It was developed by Nihon Falcom and published by XSEED Games. This review covers the PS Vita version of the game.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Review (PSV)
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is one of the best JRPG released in 2016. It has a great turn-based battle system and a memorable cast of characters. The writing is solid and the story, while not exactly praiseworthy, manages to provide a satisfying end.