Steam Delivers a Classic: The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel
By Zoe Howard On 14 Aug, 2017 At 05:05 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Uncategorized | With 0 Comments

No Gravatar*Review code for the review was provided by the publisher.*

The great thing about JRPG’s is that they vary in both story and style. Sure there are some series that are almost cut and paste to the point you can’t tell which is which but they are in the minority. While The Legend of Heroes series is one I am not familiar with, it is one I gladly went into with Trials of Cold Steel, a game that felt almost as much of an anime as it did an RPG.

While the game really follows an ensemble cast, the main story centers around Rean, a first-year student at Thor’s Military Academy. Rean and eight other first years arrive at the school and discover that they are part of a special group called Class VII. Unlike the regular classes, Class VII brings together both nobles and commoners. The group must discover what the class has in store for them as well as learn to get along. The classism angle alone to the story makes for some interesting character dynamics.

The game gives you plenty of interaction with the rest of your class. As it progresses you are given tokens that you use in order to initiate events with your classmates that strengthen the bond between them. This means you will have to choose which classmates you decide to build relationships with. Unlike the Mass Effect series, Trails of Cold Steel gives you limited chances to do this so you won’t be building full relationships with everyone. It also adds a little to the replay ability factor. You can focus on a few one run and others the next run. Sure, it doesn’t change that much but it does add some intrigue.

The core mechanics in this game are quite simple. This is to be expected from an old school turn based RPG. The core mechanics should be simple so it can open up the strategy it offers with magic and the art skills. Trials of Cold Steel not only has an excellent interface but easy to understand upgrades and strategies. It didn’t take long before I learned how to use the link mechanic. This mechanic allows another member of your team to attack immediately after you attack.

There is one small issue with the controls and that is the ability to turn the character. The game seems to only utilize four directional button mapping rather than the standard 8 directions. It is far easier to turn your character with the right camera stick than it actually is with the left character control stick. This really exacerbates things when you are trying to maneuver around an enemy to get the upper hand before combat. Your best option is usually to wait for them to turn around then attack.

This is one of those games where you will actually get a use of being creative with the magic and art systems. Both systems use their own meters and allow for a great combination of moves. You will need to learn them quickly as you begin the game. You level up as per usual in an RPG. This game, however, uses a power up system to gain most of your special moves. Final Fantasy 7 and its materia system comes to mind when looking at how it works.

The graphics are really good considering they are basically upgrades of the PSVita and PlayStation 3. I wouldn’t go into this one expecting a next gen look, but I can say that it is some really great graphics for the era it was released. The game really utilizes the PC hardware, giving it a more polished look than some of its counterparts were not able to achieve. There is screen tearing that happens in some of the larger areas but beyond that, I never saw any real issues.

The music is a delightful treat that often reminded me of the PlayStation 1 era. It’s that kind of music that makes you feel both laid back and yet like you are on an adventure. It sets an atmosphere that goes along nicely with the mindset of being students discovering the world around them. Sadly this game uses what music it has so much that it gets to the point of just irritating after a while. There are very few breaks between songs. Either you will be listening to the same song or it will immediately jump to the next song depending on where you are going. This really takes what starts off as fun tunes and makes them angrily tedious, especially over the length of this game.

The voice acting is oddly enough a mixed bag. Most of the performances are really good and work well with the dialogue they are given. Then there are those that feel as though they took the first take and said that was fine. It can feel kind of off-putting when you hear one of those lines.

The difficulty is for the most part moderate. The biggest issue with the difficulty is that there is a balancing issue with the enemies. Certain enemies in an area will be tougher than others. This is somewhat normal except that certain types of enemies will make your game grind to a halt as they beat you for no reason. It seems to stay consistent so I learned to basically avoid the ones that I had the most trouble with.

One of my bigger issues was with the boss battles. The ones I encountered at the time of writing this review were not very creative. It was less about strategy and weaknesses and more about grinding down their life meters. I never really hit a point where I was worried I was going to lose a boss fight. It’s lather, rinse, and repeat till they fall over, which is sad because their character designs were really nice. In the end, the boss battles were just not satisfying.

When I was thinking back at whether I encountered any glitches or not, all I could think about was one curiosity. This was not a glitch mind you. Instead, it was a rather peculiar programming decision. When you first turn on the game you get an option screen to either work with the game’s options or go straight to the game. If you click the options menu, it goes to the options. However, if you click the play game option it still takes you to the options menu first. From there you have to choose to proceed to the game. This is nothing that detracts from the game in the least, but it is really odd that this happens.

I want to take a moment to talk about the game’s cut scenes and characters. The cut scenes use the in-game engine rather than making short CG films. This really kept the game’s focus on the characters and what was happening to them. This game (despite its limitations) looks beautiful. I love the designs of the characters and the world itself. There wasn’t a thing about the visual design I didn’t like. It is one of those moments where everything connects and works perfectly together. I’d imagine it probably looked just as good with the limitations of the PSVita and the PlayStation 3.

In the end, The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel was a fun game that really stood out for me from many recent RPG’s I’ve played. With a solid story and battle system, I never wanted to stop playing. Though a word of caution must be said. This is a slower RPG than most are probably used to. The story doesn’t really pick up until the last chapter or two. If you are ok with that then I say give it a go.

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