Hello fellow gamers, it’s everyone’s favourite ginger (no one’s favourite ginger) and I’m back with another stellar game to review.
Today we’re taking a look at The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel!
You may recognize the name, well, at least some of it , as Nihon Falcom created a series of these games, originally with the “Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes” title. These titles progressed and eventually became ‘The Legend of Heroes’ series, with the Trails of Cold Steel series being the latest set. The game was released in 2013. However, the English version only became available in 2015, on PS Vita and PS3.
Now, with all that fun info aside, lets get into the actual game at hand!
You play as Rean Schwarzer , a boy who has enrolled at Thor’s Military Academy; a prestigious military school for both nobles and commoners (class systems are a big thing in this game. Like, huge). Upon arriving at the school, you notice that only you and a few others are wearing the same red uniform; only to discover that you’ve been selected for a new elite combat class that mixes nobles and commoners in a curriculum based on the ability to use ARCUS units.
ARCUS units are a piece of a new technology that bestows powers on the user by putting certain ‘orbments’ in the ARCUS unit. Each person’s ARCUS unit uses a Master Quartz and is tuned to certain elements (but these can be changed). ARCUS units also allowa users to link/bond during battle, allowing for assists, rushes, finishing blows, and even protecting one another during attacks.
Not everyone gets along very well, but as you learn more about each other and progress through the curriculum, you form bonds with one another. The team begins completing field studies that allow the class to see each other for who they really are, the impending war between the nobility and lower class, and its potential consequences. At the same time you also complete more menial tasks like running errands, fishing, cooking, and trying to figure out why your instructor is so weird and drinks so much.
(Now, as much as that seems like a fairly average story line, just be aware that it does get interesting further down the track, but I don’t want to spoil stuff, and also it takes ages to get through the story line.)
The gameplay is really cool, you can run around campus and the nearby town talking to whoever you like, and completing tasks in whatever order you like (although some tasks will take up most of the day and will cause the storyline to progress, so leave these tasks till last). Spending time with classmates on your ‘free day’ can increase the bond between you and that other person, increasing the abilities of both of your ARCUS units.
The turn-based combat gameplay is awesome, I personally really like it. The sidebar on the screen allows you to see when each player (both ally and enemy) will have their turn, and this allows you to make better decision of who should do what. Each team member has different strengths and weapons, allowing for different attacks/crafts, while some characters are much better using ARTS, or being in a support position and can heal/revive members of your party.
CRAFTS are attack skills that each player learns, which cannot be swapped out, as they are specific to each character and their weapon. Players can also learn S-Crafts, which are much stronger attacks, however, these require at least 100CP to be used and will use up all the craft points you have at the time. ARTS, however, are moves that use the orbments you place in your ARCUS (usually based on using elements). The ability to learn an S-Craft also allows you to use S-Break. This interrupts the order of turns and allows you to use a powerful move right when you need it, which can be a the difference between winning and losing, so make sure you have plenty of CP ready!
Speaking of all these arts and crafts, there’s a lot of room for customization in this game. Although I don’t think you can actually change your character’s main weapon, you can customize the ARCUS units pretty extensively, and you can even change the Master Quartz inside and then add orbments more specific to that quartz. This allows you to change which moves they use, and even increase certain stats! And isn’t that what makes RPG’s so good?
Purchasing new clothes and accessories can increase stats such as defense and speed, and prevent K.O or other conditions that occur during battle. Speaking to the local engineer allows you to unlock more spaces in your ARCUS unit, allowing you to purchase/synthesize more orbments and place them in your ARCUS unit.
Now, I’m sure you’re all thinking: “wow what a fantastic sounding game! surely there’s got to be something you dislike about it right?”
Correct, although I truly think this game is pretty darn awesome, there’s a couple of things which frustrate me, the most prominent being the copious amount of dialogue and cut scenes.
When you first start the game, you’re immediately thrown into a battle sequence , right at (what I’m guessing is) the peak of the game’s storyline. So we start battling, with no real idea as to how anything works. Once you get through that part, the clock winds back to the day you start at the academy, followed by an endless stream of very long, very arduous cut scenes. So many, in fact, that my flatmate would often walk past me (while I was playing the game) and ask how “conversation simulator 2016” was going. I’m not kidding.
I bet you’re also thinking “just skip through all the dialogue?” well, firstly, you can’t skip cut scenes. Secondly, almost all the dialogue is important. It’s really important to pay attention to what’s going on, as it gives you clues as to what’s going on in regards to the growing tensions between provinces, classmates, and more importantly, what you’ll be tested on in your exams! Yes, that’s right. Just because you’re attending a military school doesn’t mean you can let your academics fall apart! You’ll be tested on just how well you’ve been paying attention in class, getting correct answers, completing field studies, and doing extra credit work will increase your GPA , so make sure you pay attention!
The only other weird thing that annoys me is that in some cut scenes, the characters will actually speak, while in others, you just read what they’re saying. Sometimes its a mixture of both, and I really don’t understand why.
So we’ve got some good pro’s and con’s there, but overall I’d give it an 8/10
Although there’s a truckload of dialogue, its mostly all relevant and important, and after a while, you start to realize just how much you’ve learnt about the context the game is set in, which is quite cool.
The customization abilities are nearly endless, and you get a good mix of both laid back assignments, and challenging battles and objectives.
The overall content is massive, so its a good game to work through if you don’t have a time limit to work under
Plus the music is pretty cool, it suits the game style really well.
Phew, you know, when you think about it, there really is a huge amount going on in this game. With Rean being at the center of class VII, you’re often the one making bigger decisions as well. I hope you’re all up for the challenge!