Almost 4 years after its release, Persona 4 Golden was the RPG to own a Vita for if you never played the original PS2 version of Persona 4. It’s a remake, yes but it’s still an outstanding game. Even so, we would need to wait until Tales of Hearts R to get a massive standalone RPG that, like the Persona games is from a pedigree series.
This brings us to The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. It’s worth mentioning first this is just one half of a massive story: I bought the Special Edition Version of the game, which comes with an artbook that has artwork from BOTH games. The sequel was released in Japan in 2014. As far as I know, Cold Steel II has been fully translated. YAY! The thing is there’s over 10,000 lines of audio to dub plus the whole thing needs to be written into the game. No doubt that’ll take a while! The way I see it though, if the special edition set says “this spot is for the sequel”, it’s a fair assumption we will likely see it before the end of the summer. As I just said, the game IS prettymuch done. It was likely localized right after the first one was done.
Before I continue: IF you choose to buy the special edition version of Cold Steel, finish the game BEFORE you look at the artbook due to the MAJOR SPOILERS revealed about the end of the first game and what’s to come in the sequel. As you can see from the above picture, everyone’s sporting a new look =O
Cold Steel boasts over 50 hours playtime and that’s impressive given almost no one makes games like this anymore. Better still, it was released on the Vita and PS3 with cross-save. Even though we know there is a sequel coming soon, the game does have a New Game+ ala the “Tales of”, Devil Survivor and Shin Megami Tensei games: You can pick stuff from your first playthrough to carry over to your second.
The game’s progression is linear but it does offer various degrees of freedom in regards to combat, customization and so on. There are also some hidden sidequests for those willing to look for them. Trails of Cold Steel has two battle mechanics reminiscient of the “Tales of” games as well as Persona 4 and Fire Emblem Awakening/Fates. The S-Craft skills allow you to execute a massively powerful move on all foes. Every character has their own and by the time you reach the end of the game, their S-Craft skill we upgrade. Combat Links allow two members of the combat party to support each other. The stronger your bond, the better the support.
The game’s story is easily the best part and kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. The attention to detail in this game is unlike any other RPG I’ve played before and I’ve played ALOT of RPGs over the last 24 years: Now that I am on my second playthrough, I have a better appreciation of the subtle context clues pointing to Comrade C’s true identity. Without spoiling the story, Rean will have a “Super Saiyan” moment in the Old Schoolhouse after his sister Elise is attacked. Rean’s “moment” is witnessed by two people one of whom he asks to keep what he saw a secret (though the other tells him he will). Why the promise of secrecy makes a lot more sense in the final moments of the game.
Two of the game’s biggest unsolved mysteries are barely touched on and will clearly be revisited in the sequel: Rean’s “Super Saiyan” mode (see above pic) and Emma’s true identity. Rean’s “moment” is scripted and only happens twice in the game. The second time is in duel he has a bit later in the game. A duel he loses because of how powerful his opponent is more than anything. Even more interesting is it doesn’t appear to be related at all to the fate the awaits him art the end of the game.
Emma, on the other hand…Falcom clearly kept her true identity under wraps on purpose for the entire game. Obvious clues are dropped all over the place she knows more about the supernatural events surrounding the Old Schoolhouse–and Rean–than she’s willing to admit. Based on the what I was willing to read on GaneFAQs on the subject without being spoiled myself, Rean’s unique power (excluding his endgame fate) is barely touched on in Cold Steel II though I DID learn there will be a Cold Steel III (!).
The cast of characters are multilayered. This includes many important NPCs you meet in addition to the playable cast. The evolution of the playable cast is something else. By the time the credits rolled, I was chomping at the bit in anticipation for the sequel I knew was coming.
Moving on, this game takes the cake for my Vita Game of the year 2016. It’s competition is its sequel so…yeah. Overall I give Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel a 10/10. The game does a masterful job on feeling complete but at the same time ending with a cliffhanger as things are set up for the sequel.
…Speaking of the sequel, this is one of the least spoilerish pics I felt comfortable posting in in this thread. It’s from the opening moments of Cold Steel II from what I understand. From what I’ve read, Cold Steel II picks up where the first game leaves off: After the shocking turn of events in the final moments of the first game, Erebonia is plunged into civil war. The Noble Faction is in open war against the Imperial Government.
Thors Academy’s Class VII–a unique class whose families make up both sides of the warring factions–must rise to the occasion once again. Loyalties are tested and as they learned during the events of the first game, not all is as it seems. All but one of the playable characters from the first game returns in the sequel and all sporting a new look. The one who doesn’t return I won’t get into due to major spoilers.
In addition there are a number of new playable characters in Cold Steel II, most of whom where in the first game. Most notable to me is Rean’s sister Elise:
The two are apparently reunited near their hometown early on where Elise reveals she knows how to handle herself in battle. Rean sets off to reunite with his classmates, who are scattered across the continent. The running theory for Cold Steel III is not everyone will be back. There is even rampant speculation Rean might be an antagonist in Cold Steel III =O
Mind you, I know almost nothing about Cold Steel II. It was released in Japan of course but I’m going to wait until its US release so I can draw my own conclusions like I did with the first. As a reminder, this review is for the Vita version but this game was released on both the Vita and the PS3 AND there is cross-save.