Truth be told, I’ve always wanted to try out The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. While it was available to play, I was always looking at the more known titles such as the Final Fantasy or Phantasy Star games. By the time I finally made it around to the game, I had either ran out of time or lost my drive. or both. But now that The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has made its way to the PC, I jumped at the chance to check it out and I’m happy that I did. I definitely missed out on a great RPG, but thanks to XSEED, I have made up for it and then some.
Game Name: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
Platform(s): PC, also on PS3 & PSVita
Publisher(s): XSEED Games
Developer(s): Nihon Falcom
Release Date: August 2nd, 2017
In an interesting spin on RPGs, you aren’t controlling a team of rag-tag heroes, or training the biggest bad-ass in the world. You aren’t even saving the world. Instead, you’re thrust in what is the equivalent tossing in high school students from different backgrounds and cultures into a pot and waiting to see what emerges. There’s teasing, there’s a ton of bickering, a spot of accidental inappropriate touching and even a slap or two. But in the end, it all made up of several likable characters with their developmental issues to overcome. While I enjoyed watching the story unfold, more so due to the involvement of these characters, the story does drag on a bit. It gets downright slow at times, especially when you’re sent out to do menial quests that are nothing more than filler. Still, where else can you see the antics of a very busty teacher who seems to be in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Or two people who just need to shut up and go disappear off the screen for a bit of quality time.
Let’s just say that this is class 101 for heroes in the making.
When you’re not fighting some sort of enemy, you’re able to upgrade and outfit your characters with various items, spells, and abilities. However, in this game, you earn spells via Quartz that resembles the Materia in Final Fantasy. Dropping these into slots will provide you with all different matter of spells, both offensive and supportive – and it’s pretty handy. This also means that you can give every character multiple attack spells as well as healing/curing spells. And that becomes helpful when you start losing characters in a fight or if you need that extra healing or DPS.
One thing that bothered me a bit was the constant swapping of characters in my parties. At multiple times, the party I got used to commanding was changed, without my doing. I suppose this was the developer’s way of introducing different play styles and characters to you. Which I understand, especially since I’m guilty of taking my favorite characters in RPGs while neglecting the rest of the cast. This way, way you get to experience everything available, leaving you can piece your party how you like afterward.
The combat in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is based on the traditional turn-based system. Depending on certain variables, either your party of your enemies will attack first, but of course, you can do things to slow down the enemies turns, while speeding up yours. Also, you can strategically place your characters in different locations during battle. This affords you certain advantages, especially when using special abilities called Crafts. Crafts, which are earned via level progression, will give you specific abilities that can either single or multiple enemies. So using those during combat and while placing your characters in beneficial locations will help your battles. Of course, you don’t have to move your characters, but not doing so will end up with you taking on unneeded damage or death. There’s nothing like watching your party getting slaughtered at the same time with one around to bring you back in the fight.
Outside of location placement, you can also increase your battle successes by taking advantage of damage types. Every character can output a specific type of damage, which can be specialized or upgraded. This goes hand in hand during combat as every enemy has weaknesses and resistances to them. SO if you were to hit an enemy with a fire-based attack, who just happens to be weak against fire, you end up doing more damage. On the same token, ignoring this system and simply tossing attacks and spells at your enemies is going to ensure that battles will be drawn out. That is if you even survive the initial confrontation.
You want OP attacks, well they’re here in the form of Link and S-Type attacks. Outside of battling, you have various changes to increase your character’s bonds or relationships. This deepens their understanding of each other and provides a rather strong and ability – Link Attacks. These attacks will happen whenever you attack an enemy and end up doing critical damage and unbalancing them. When this happens you’ll have a window to disk out an extra attack from another party member. The Link attacks can be set up outside of battle and you can create links between all of your party members. It’s a handy mechanic that should be taken advantage of. The S-Type attacks, on the other hand, are your super ultra attacks. For the cost of either 100 or 200 CP, you can unleash an attack that is so devastating that it can either take out entire packs of enemies or do some pretty massive damage. Since they do use your CP, it’s not to do them over and over, but given the right items, you can use them more than a few times during a battle.
Despite being released back during 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, the game holds up surprisingly well. That, of course, is due to the slew of graphical upgrades that the game has received for its PC port. The textures have been smoothed out, there are more colors, and there’s even been a frame rate boost. Right out of the gate you’ll have an entire suite of options to pick from, including desired frame rate (30/60/unlimited), Field of view, Vsync, Anisotropic filtering, Anti-aliasing, borderless/windowed/full and even widescreen support. Let that sink in for a moment.
That also plays a big part in the performance, which is flawless, with this game. During my testing, I’ve played The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel on three different spec machines; a laptop with integrated graphics, a mid-range PC, and a high-end PC. And I’m happy to report that on each machine I was able to run the game at 60fps or beyond if Vsync wasn’t enabled. None of the PCs struggled to run the game, and the experience was the same across the board. That said, the game isn’t exactly a title that requires a beast of a machine to run, as the minimum requirement is an Intel Atom. Yes, I said an Intel Atom processor, and the recommended is an Intel i3. If you have a PC from the last 6-7 years, you’ll be able to run this time.
- OS: Windows 7 or later
- Processor: Intel Atom x7-Z8700 2.4 GHz
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: Shader Model 5 (GeForce 400 / Radeon HD 5000 / Intel post-2012 series)
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 15 GB available space
- Additional Notes: 1280×720 / 30 FPS with portable settings
- OS: Windows 7 or later
- Processor: Intel i3 3 GHz
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: Geforce GTX 770 / Radeon R9 280X
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 15 GB available space
- Additional Notes: 1920×1080 / 60 FPS with high settings
The sound in this game is a mixed bag. While the music tracks are quite enjoyable, some of them seem to be out of place. At once instance while running around the town, I was listening to what could be mistaken for a track that plays during battle. Or at other times I’d be in a dungeon and the music would be at a slower pace. Outside of that, however, I quite enjoyed the arrangement and found myself listening to certain pieces at times. Especially that battle theme, tons of bass, fast-paced and fits the situation perfectly.
Update: Fans of the original Japan voices can rejoice as there is a way to get them added into the game. Check out the Falcom Discord channel here for more info on that.
The game also features a heavy amount of voice-overs, more so than the original game from what I understand. However, XSEED wasn’t able to get the Japanese voice-overs, so they re-dubbed all of the lines in the game and added a few more. This, however, seems to be a sore point for many purists of the original title. That said, I never played the original game so I never was exposed to what is missing, so I’m not as “conflicted” with the change. The new dub isn’t as bad as people think and while I think that certain lines don’t convey the right emotion, it isn’t half bad. Still, if the new dub bothers people, you can disable the voices and just read all the text. Outside of that, it was a bit annoying that certain parts were voiced, while others weren’t. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was during certain segments, but there were times where it was voiced, then it wasn’t, then it was again – within a matter of minutes.
Capping it all off, the PC release of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel includes something that wasn’t included in the PS3 or PS Vita version – a turbo mode. This added feature lets you speed through the game while holding down a button and lets you zoom through segments and helps speed up parts of the game that drag on. You can even skip through battle animations and the battle end screen. It’s a damned good addition and I noticed that XSEED was patching this into several other The Legend of Heroes titles on the PC.
Review Disclosure Statement: This copy of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (PC) was provided to us by XSEED Games for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
The Legend Of Heroes: Trials Of Cold Steel
In the end, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel ended up turning into a pleasant surprise and one that took way longer to beat than expected. The game took a solid 50 hours to get through and was rushing through the game. An enjoyable story, decent gameplay, a wonderful atmosphere and more importantly, a change of pace from other RPGs we’re used to seeing on the PC. A worthy follow-up to the PC release of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC that we received years ago.
- The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel