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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel review
by jackindisguise

One of the worst games I've ever played, eclipsed only by every other Nihon Falcom game ever made, Trails in the Sky FC being possibly the only exception. Oh, and Ys SEVEN on the PSP.

Unlike other strategy-based combat systems where every encounter is its own map designed for decently complex navigation and field environmental features, this combat system seems to exist merely for you to be able to exploit movement and positioning to maximize both support and damage spell effectiveness. It feels great to play, and the potential for cooperative skill/spell usage is huge. With perfect usage of spells and skills, you can finish entire boss fights without taking any damage, sometimes not even letting the enemy take a single turn.

Even the progression system is enjoyable, with spells and passive bonuses being equipped to a grid that you can expand over time using special currency, opening more and more slots for each character and thus making them even more powerful in combat.

Unfortunately, everything else is terrible.

The main character is the savior of the entire universe -- he has no character flaws. Everyone loves him. He knows exactly what to say to every single person, and the effect of what he says is a foregone conclusion. Everyone's life is made better just by him being around. He will solve every problem given enough time.

Every other character occupies the position of furniture. Not only are they completely uninteresting, with completely contrived conflicts and character growth, but they're in every scene. Every single thing that happens in the entire universe requires between 5 and 10 characters to comment on it. Everyone has the same reaction to everything, because they all occupy the exact same job within the story -- just pushing the plot along to the foregone conclusion that the writer has in his mind. Nothing is a surprise.

I've tried to play through this game twice. The first time was when it first came out on the PS Vita. I had finished Trails in the Sky FC a few years prior and was thirsty for another Trails game. Trails in the Sky SC was, I think, not out yet. The older Legend of Heroes games on the PSP were pretty terrible, but I attributed that to them being significantly older with worse translations.

I got 30~ hours into it my first playthrough before I decided it was enough. I was tired of seeing a scene where all 32 of my classmates are walking down a street or hallway having a contrived conversation where everyone responds the same way. I couldn't handle it anymore. I turned it off, put the game on my shelf, and it sat there for probably a year or two before I eventually sold it.

Recently I learned there were 2 new series being produced and I couldn't believe it. I checked and saw that there were FOUR games in the Cold Steel series. I just couldn't understand why there were so many games being produced for the series. It's not good. It's very bad. What's the demand? Kuro no Kiseki and Hajime no Kiseki? Do we need 15 entries in this saga? There's simply no way it's good enough or meets the demand.

I got sucked in. There's been a serious lack of good RPGs in recent years, and I love the combat system of the Trails series. I was desperate. So I ordered a copy of Cold Steel on eBay for way more money than it's worth and tried again. I booted it up on hard mode. I skipped all the dialogue, because I knew ahead of time it was intolerable. I enjoyed the combat again. Playing it on hard was relatively satisfying, though a few times I wished I hadn't cause the last 2 Old Schoolhouse boss battles required way too much planning and luck. Regardless... once I hit 35~ hours, I once again turned the game off, put it in the box, and put it back on my shelf. I even deleted my game save, resolute that I was never going to turn this game on again for the rest of my life.
«Disappointment of the year»
«Waste of time»

Other reviews6

Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
Like the previous Trails in the Sky Series, just really good. For People who don't like a Story, the Game is nothing, but you should be used to IT with JRPG. For me personally, a top title.
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
I make a quick. Anyone who likes JRPD and/or Animes should strike. Get me interested in a turn-based variant of the Tails of series. Good story, typical Character Settuing. Very good Fight gamepolay, weaken in the graphics/Technique. I am very much looking Forward to part 2!!!!!
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
Power a lot of fun-the Story is very entertaining so far,-you often get off the Road (in the positive SInne)-the music is very pleasant-the Fights are fair but demanding-the Graphics are fine I'm actually very satisfied. It's just a good JRPG, if you like these Games you should strike.
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
Super fun Game. The Combat System is supie, has a little something of Grandia that is also fully supie!!! Pro combat system music-Turboboost (Fully good for impatient Players)-New Game + (Looten and Lvln)-Funny NPCs Kontra-Very ruler (1 of 3 Ways usable but is also a portable Game)-the second Part not yet for PC ... I want my Turboboost!
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
So, having now around 30 Hours (Edit: I've now reached the End after 49 Hours and can start New Game Plus), I have to say that every Penny has paid off. The Story is still a long way from being finished, but Boy, it was a pleasant Ride. Sure, much was predictable, but on the Whole everything was generated with a lot of Attention to Detail. The Graphics may not be the best, because hey, it's original yes a PS Vita game, but it's still damn good. Many Cutscenes, many varied Areas, which are small in themselves, but have been designed decently. Even huge Backtracks are often saved because you are taken by the Hand without further ado-this makes for an even more coherent Design, in which exactly one thing always dominates: The Story. And even though she ends up accepting More fantastic traits, I still really liked her. The Combat Design is good and definitely laune, can sometimes be a bit tichy and confusing, but that's probably more my personal View then. The Setting Is really good and you also have the Feeling with this Port that you wanted to make things decent. Stud only: It will end on a Cliffhanger that will only be told with the second and third Titles in this Series. In fact-and here you have to be careful-if you want to understand everything in its Entirety, you would have to do all 8 (!) Parts of the Saga (also Legends of Sky and two titles not yet ported). I'm definitely glad to have bought this Title and at 40 Euros I can tell quiet some that it was worth it.