I’ve always been a hardcore fan of Japanese RPG games, even so much so that I’ve contemplated re-naming myself as Lewisu and walking around with a giant katana, maybe one day Lewisu will save the day from the forces of darkness, but for the time being he’s just going to have to rot inside of my mind casting fire and ice spells repeatedly until sensible Lewis puts two bullets in the back of his head.
In comes The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II to put Lewisu back into reality. The game has been around for several years in Japan, first being released in September 2014 and was not so long ago released in Northern America back in September 2016, but on November 11th we’ll finally get to receive our very own copy of the game on PS3 and Vita.
The game was developed by Nihon Falcom, but has been published by a string of companies such as Nihon Falcom themselves in Japan, XSEED Games in America and NIS America will be publishing the European version. As you probably already guessed, Trails of Cold Steel 2 is part of The Legend of Heroes series, which when you start to read up on is actually incredibly extensive. I never realised they had so many games. It’s also a single player Japanese Roleplaying game, so you guessed it, get out those broadswords!
First things first, I’ll start by saying that opening sequence to the game was absolutely beautiful. I’ve watched lots of anime in my time so it really appealed to me to see so many different characters, different skills and some absolutely beautiful graphics.
The main menu is pretty basic, but it does allow you to read up on the backstory, as much as I would love to explain the backstory to you, there is a massive amount to read through and in all honesty reading all of it would delay this review by several years., so the general jist of it is that the game begins on a bit of a cliff-hanger. I won’t go spoiling anything, but the backstory is actually pretty good and has lots of twists and turns in it, so give it a read if you have the time.
Trails of Cold Steel II revolves around classmates from a Military Academy, and more specifically students of Class VII. Although you get a good understanding of each of your class mates and their personalities, it mainly focuses on a young chap by the name of Raen who is doing everything he can to protect his world and his loved ones.
As the game begins, you can see the thoughts and memories of Class VII which will explain the general idea of what has happened in the previous games. The game does a pretty good job of explaining what happened previously and going through the motions of pulling you in so that when the game begins you’ll know what’s going on.
After your glimpse of the backstory, you’ll get to see the hero of our story, Raen, right where we left off. He’s finally awake after crashing down from the skies. Unfortunately, Raen thinks it was a dream, fortunately there’s an adorable little black cat named Celine with a blue ribbon ready to explain just what to do! After a brief time, you learn that Raen is actually The Ashen Awakener and probably more impressive, he is ‘The Chosen One’ (I’m officially re-naming myself to that). Raen has been chosen by a great and ancient power and is now one with his new Divine Knight friend.
I won’t go too much into the story from here on out, because frankly it’d take me days and days to sit summarising what happens, but all I can say is as you play the story plays with you. I didn’t really go into this expecting much from the story, but in all honesty it’s surprised me of how in depth and detailed it can be. There’s plenty of twists and turns to keep you pulled into the game and you will want to keep playing just to find out what happens next.
Now it wouldn’t be a Japanese RPG game without some badass skills would it!? Of course not! How on earth are you going to kill all those monsters if you can’t leap 50 feet into the air and slice monsters open like pack of mild cheddar! Trails of Cold Steel 2 uses a system known as Orbments, mechanical devices that extract the Orbal energy from septium and use it to generate magical effects and enhancements. Using your Battle Orbment, you can change the quartz which is set in it, to harness new and exciting abilities and strengths.
You’ll also be able to place a Master Quartz within your Orbment, which grows stronger the more you fight. There’s a reason they’re called Master Quartz, and that’s because they’re just the bee’s knees! Using Master Quartz will allow you to gain better skills, more statistics and become generally more badass in every single way!
The battle system is based on field and instanced fighting. When you encounter a monster on the field, you will be able to mash the attack button repeatedly to encounter it, I’m sure it goes without saying that hitting the monster from behind will give you a nice tasty bonus. Once you’re in the battle then get ready for some classic turn based RPG. The top left will show you the attacking order, so it’s more about careful planning then going all out attack. Further more, you can get some nice and tasty bonuses occasionally. These are random, but will help you out quite a bit. There’s also a movement system within the battle, so if you’re monster is outside of your perimeter, then you will only moved to where they are and will have to strike again next turn.
As you deal and receive damage, you’ll receive CP points, used to perform crafts, or in more RPG terms, skills. These crafts will do a range of different things, but also offer some nice debuffs and buffs to you so you can think tactically rather than just going all out. Further more, if you manage to dodge any attacks then you’ll hit back with some tasty counter bonus damage, very handy for getting that last little slide into victory.
After you complete your battle, you’ll be given a summary of how you did on the fight. Doing well will provide you with bonus experience, some lovely experience, and you’ll be able to see how long that fight took you. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some nice items to heal up afterwards, and maybe even some Sepith to create strong crystals and become more of a badass.
As you progress through the game and fight more monsters, you’ll begin to unlock more and more information within the Monster Guide. Doing this allows you to see a whole host of useful information to help you fight those naughty nasties, so it’s worth getting into more battles than you need to, especially since they reward you with nice items and a hefty amount of experience.
In all honesty, I really enjoyed the battle system. I always reminisce about the old Final Fantasy turn based RPG battles and really wish they would make a move back, so it’s nice to be able to play something a bit more up to date which also has turn based RPG. Further more, I think the movement feature within the battles is realistic and logical. It adds another emphasis on think before you attack, and demotes the whole ‘button mashing’ enthusiasts that we have all become in modern day.
I won’t focus on graphics and sound too much, because in all honesty both of them are perfectly fine. Whilst the graphics aren’t exactly cutting edge, the game was originally released back in 2014, so it’s understandable that it’s not going to be top notch, and sound wise the games music and sound effects are enjoyable and compliment the genre of the game really well.
Overall, the game is great. It’s nice to play a Japanese RPG which has an intense story line such as this and with so much emphasis on the battle system that is provided. Whilst the graphics are a little on the downside, I’ve never really seen any problem with playing a game with out of date graphics if it’s got a good story line and the gameplay value is great. Further more, the game is absolutely huge and there’s so much to do that it’s ridiculously long, but all that really means is more bang for your buck. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Japanese RPG games.
Quote: “Swords, crystals, skills and monsters, Trails of Cold Steel 2 finally comes to Europe”