JRPG games are what you would consider as the easiest type of genre to get into. Coupled with a simple plot and a grinding mechanic most RPGs have, you’d find yourself spending more hours playing than you thought. In essence, JRPGs are games that get you invested for a long time.
Legends of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel takes place in a country called Erebonia during a post-war period of peace where technology has advanced just enough to allow for a simpler life. You follow the story of Rean Schwarzer, a freshman student enrolling into a Thors Military Academy, a school where nobles and commoners coexist and study together in order to join either the Imperial Military or Provincial Army.
Rean goes to Class VII, a special class where the students are a mix of nobles and commoners and they are all tasked with helping the student council with daily tasks and conducting field studies, field studies include helping the people within the towns or cities they are assigned to. As you progress with helping the cities and towns, you uncover hidden truths within the military and discover that tensions between the nobility and commoners are slowly rising.
The game is, in all aspects, a JRPG. It offers turn-based combat with an abundance of actions you can perform during the battle, namely Attack, Arts, Craft, Item, Move, and Run. Arts is the Magic in this universe, it consumes your EP or ‘mana’ gauge while Craft is a set of skills unique to your character. These consume your CP or skill gauge. One thing to note is that you will often lose track of time with the amount of grinding, equipment building, and team managing you’ll be doing since this is part of the core mechanic of the game.
What I liked about the game is how they tackled the RPG combat concept. They gave it a fresh take wherein you are free to move your units anywhere you want within the battlefield using Move, opening up a lot of strategies and making positioning very important, pre-battle you can change the positions of your units so as not to use a turn to Move them.
Aside from its extensive combat, which I can expand upon endlessly, the non-battle aspects are good breathers that allow you to understand more about the game’s lore or craft healing items. Like most RPGs, the lore is spread all throughout your playthrough which you can look for if you aren’t in a hurry. In doing so you will be rewarded with some hard to obtain equipment.
Though uncovering some of them requires a bit of effort to find as there is no actual guide on how to obtain them aside from what is given to you by the main story. Because of how limited your funds are when it comes to buying equipment, you’ll invest a lot more in crafting healing items as it saves you money and they provide better stat bonuses when consumed. One feature I do want to emphasize on is the bonding system, which gives your characters more depth and allows for more battle tactics, though not as impactful as you might think, it does feel satisfying to see your favorite characters interact with each other aside from your main character.
The voice acting is okay, it felt odd at times when your main character suddenly stopped voice acting and during mid-dialogues, you’d hear his voice again. However, the musical composition is well done. It’s presented in a very straightforward fashion, in the sense that when you hear this specific soundtrack, you know things are calm and peaceful or something bad is about to happen. It may sound repetitive at times, but the delivery where a different musical piece is introduced is spot on, I found myself hyped and excited when I fought against one of the bosses in the game’s final chapter.
Overall, The Legends of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel is a very good introduction to the Trails series. It manages to get you invested into the main story, enough to make you want to know more without revealing too much that may affect story consistency. Throughout my playthrough, I would often get lost in trying to uncover more about each character, only to be stopped by the game telling me it’s not time yet or that’s all they can offer me for now. In regards to the battles, they added a Turbo Mode which significantly speeds up the battles, which saved me a couple of minutes from grinding. My only problem would be not being able to skip cutscenes, I encountered a situation where I wasn’t able to save before turning off my PS4 and had to go through the whole cutscene all over again. Pressing the Circle button does make the cutscene progress faster, but still, I just would’ve wanted them to add a skip function for instances where you didn’t save and have to go through the cutscene again.
Disclosure: This review is based on a review code provided by XSEED Games. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.
Tested on: PS4