The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (PlayStation 3) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 01.04.2016

Review for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel on PlayStation 3

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel came to life in 2013 as a Japan-only release. It has since seen a sequel and a third entry was just recently announced. Xseed Games, publisher of the Corpse Party series and many other niche games, agreed to bring the first two games to the West, with NIS America doing the publishing honours in Europe. The first game released in North America in December last year and in Europe the following January, so how does it fare two years after its Japanese debut?

The Legend of Heroes is a series that takes a generic anime style game with a familiar setting and gives it a unique twist. Each of the eight main characters in Trails of Cold Steel attend Thors Military Academy. As an experiment, the school starts a new class with a mix of nobles and commoners, which is seen as taboo in this world; the class system is in full effect, meaning no mixed classes in the academy. As the game progresses, the character bonds change and their character traits develop a little; this is something that is often missing in JRPG titles. The premise is the same coming of age story told countless times, but it has its own certain flair and interesting plot twists that help keep you invested.

Aside from the story, the game takes quite a Persona-ish approach to its gameplay. To begin with, the battle system is turn-based and has an interesting setup. The characters, unlike in most turn-based systems, aren't locked down and have free roam of the battlefield (although no direct control). If a character runs forwards to attack, they will stop in the general vicinity of the enemy they hit. Dispersing the characters round the map with a mix of attack and move commands can lead to interesting tactical decisions that allow characters to hit multiple enemies at once using either crafts (attacks unique to the character) or art (magic attacks). The elemental properties of arts are dictated by a piece of equipment called an Orbment, and this device can be equipped with gems similar to Materia in Final Fantasy VII. Each gem has different elemental powers and, over time, the Orbment can be upgraded to carry more elemental gems, offering up more advanced and interesting combination arts.

Screenshot for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel on PlayStation 3

Combat linking is a heavily-used feature in the combat and is a way to link two characters during battle, which allows for support attacking. After a successful staggering/critical attack, the linked character gets an extra attack in on the enemy. On each turn, the link can be changed to maximise the damage across the battlefield. It's far from a shallow experience, providing ample tactical options that many other games don't.

During each chapter, there is usually a chance to improve each character's relationship. This is done by spending Bond points and by completing side missions. The bonding events are usually pretty funny, from watching a character swim to having a chat over a coffee. It also draws a few more parallels to Persona here. Trails of Cold Steel is actually surprisingly captivating in its quieter moments, giving players time to enjoy the game world and explore the characters in a little more depth. It is during these sections that it is possible to go to the in-game library and read the books of lore. As character bonds improve, the game opens up more complex combat link bonuses and attacks, which is very satisfying.

It all looks fairly decent for a cross PS3 and Vita title, offering colourful visuals and characters with some reasonably good voice acting. The soundtrack is pretty heart pumping, although it does fall somewhere between generic and fun. With succinct storytelling, play time ranges from 50 to 60 hours, but it is also worth noting that it is not a difficult game, so RPG veterans will likely breeze through it.

Screenshot for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is a thoroughly recommendable experience for the PS3. It really hits the same buttons as both Persona and Tales, and is enjoyable from start to finish. Incidentally, it is a long game with plenty on offer, but not much challenge. To keep itself interesting, it throws in new story elements and funny character interactions every now and then.

Developer

Nihon Falcom

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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