The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel Image
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Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Critic Reviews What's this?

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8.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 99 Ratings

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  • Summary: Among the nations on the Zemurian continent, the mighty Erebonian Empire has been quick to stake its claim militarily; yet politically, ugly bouts of internal conflict between the upper class and commoners struggling to rise to power have been steadily intensifying with each passing month.Among the nations on the Zemurian continent, the mighty Erebonian Empire has been quick to stake its claim militarily; yet politically, ugly bouts of internal conflict between the upper class and commoners struggling to rise to power have been steadily intensifying with each passing month. The Noble and Reformist Factions have been none too kind to one another over the years, and tensions between the two only stand to worsen if compromises aren't reached in the very near future.

    Rean Schwarzer, like any other citizen of the Imperial nation, is no stranger to these rising conflicts: the class system has been deeply interwoven into the tapestry of Erebonian culture since the days of old. As a seventeen-year-old student preparing for his new life at Thors Military Academy, however, he notices that his crimson uniform differs from the standard outfits issued to his peerstypically green for commoners, and white for nobles.

    Enter, Class VII of Thors Military Academy. For the first time in the prestigious academy's history, rank means nothing and skill means everything. With nine hand-picked students of various backgrounds and abilities, Rean included, Class VII readies itself to dive deep into the political quagmire that threatens not only them, but the very foundations of the Empire.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Oct 9, 2017
    90
    In case I haven't said it enough already, the PC port of Trails of Cold Steel is quite simply the best version of the game you can get at the moment. It's also an excellent port on its own that brings many improvements and scales well between a dedicated gaming rig at max settings and an ultraportable laptop squeaking by on low. If you're a fan of the series, this is a no-brainer. If you've never played a Trails game before, this is an excellent place to start.
  2. Aug 7, 2017
    90
    Nihon Falcom’s games have helped me to rediscover JRPGs which I had almost given up due to their often perplexing superiority complex. There’s this integrity towards the way Nihon Falcom makes their games, and it’s reflected in the gaming experience. What The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel may lack in production values, it makes up for in the richness and depth in its unpretentious and diverse narrative. That makes following Rean and his friends during their year of study uncannily engaging entertainment. I can’t think of any better way to get acquainted with The Legend of Heroes series than this. The only thing bothering me right now is how long I have to wait for the second part!
  3. Aug 2, 2017
    80
    The Legend of Heroes: Trails Of Cold Steel takes the best of the Trails in the Sky games and enhances it to new heights. While the school setting isn't particularly innovative, all surrounding mechanics have been masterfully implemented, resulting in a game that's incredibly engaging despite the slow pace and a few other minor issues. Additional, the wealth of PC exclusive features make the game one of the best consoles to PC port ever released.
  4. Aug 3, 2017
    80
    Trails of Cold Steel is one of those games where you get out of it what you put into it. While it is playable for a rank newbie, there is far more depth available to the experienced player. There are some small rough edges, but it works very well overall.
  5. Sep 5, 2017
    80
    In the end, Trails of Cold Steel is a game made for specific fans of the JRPG genre, but it also succeeds in nailing down all of its tropes and mechanics, rather than try to appeal to everyone with a bunch of pieces that don’t fit cohesively. Its emphasis on character development and skill trees prove that it has placed its priorities in the right areas, rather than blow its budget on visuals or other superfluous aspects. What it lacks in innovation, it more than makes up for in polish, and the result is bound to leave many fans hungry for the next two installments in the trilogy regardless of whether they play through the main story or follow every side character’s journey to completion.
  6. Aug 15, 2017
    75
    The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has made its way to PC, but has made no changes to differentiate itself. This game overall is one that has definitely aged well and has grown on me as time goes by, and is a quality JRPG that any fan of the genre will enjoy. However, this re-release provides no incentive whatsoever for someone wants to double dip.
  7. Aug 18, 2017
    70
    This is a game with a long, arcing story that takes some awkward, colourful teens through their turbulent teenage years with a fun and vibrant world to explore, charming characters to befriend and a turn-based combat system with a surprising amount of depth once you look beneath the surface.

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. Mar 7, 2019
    10
    If you like games with great worldbuilding, character development/interactions and a massive plot that spans over the course of several games,If you like games with great worldbuilding, character development/interactions and a massive plot that spans over the course of several games, you won't be disappointed. Oh, and I can't stress enough how amazing the soundtrack is. You'll be mind-blown playing this game for sure. Also try the previous Trails in the Sky series if you like this one, it's just as good. Expand
  2. Mar 27, 2021
    10
    During my first playing session of Trails of Cold Steel, it left a bad impression on me. Mostly because of the outdated graphics and how theDuring my first playing session of Trails of Cold Steel, it left a bad impression on me. Mostly because of the outdated graphics and how the characters, at the time, seemed like walking stereotypes to me. As I progressed through the game though, I found myself becoming more and more entranced by its story, character writing and solid gameplay to the point where it has become one of my favorite games of all time.

    Trails of Cold Steel's strongest aspect is, without a doubt, its characters. All of the main characters get plenty of development throughout the game and it honestly surprises me just how much I've started to care about each and every one of them. The most impressive thing though, is that every single NPC in this game has their own story. There's multiple moments throughout the game where you're free to walk around the Academy and talk to people so you basically get to see "snapshots" of their life as the school year passes by. You see an insecure kid slowly grow more confident, rivals eventually becoming friends etc. All of these NPC conversations are completely optional, but they add a lot of depth to the world of this game. I've had times where I ended up just talking to people for 40 minutes on end, and genuinely enjoyed myself. The interactions you have with other characters do have some really silly tropes in them every now and then, but none of them were too bad in my opinion.

    The gameplay in Trails of Cold Steel is good. Combat has a typical turn-based format where each of your characters has a few unique moves called "Crafts" that they unlock as they gain more levels. The main novelty that Trails of Cold Steel brings to the table is that all the combatants can move around on the battlefield. Proper positioning on the battlefield can be important and you can choose to spend a character's turn on just moving to a better position. Something I also like a lot, is just how customisable your characters' movesets are. You can mix and match one "Master Quartz" and a total of 8 "Quartz" to give each character the moves and stats that you think are best for them.

    That said though, the combat is generally very easy once you get the hang of it. Even if you don't really spend time coming up with good Quartz combinations for your team, the majority of enemies will be very easy to defeat. It's only in certain bossfights and around the end of the game that things get more challenging, although even then there's a few strategies that you can use to make the fights fairly simple to win. This makes it so that I personally got burned out by the combat at a certain point in the game and mostly kept playing for the story.

    Lastly I should mention that the soundtrack is very good. Not just for the absolutely hype music that plays in specific battles, but also for the atmospheric music in general. The Falcom Sound Team did a great job making this world feel even more alive with their music. The voice acting, too, is generally good (I played in English). I wish there were more fully voiced conversations, but other than that I have no real complaints.

    In conclusion: Trails of Cold Steel is an incredible game mainly because of its story, worldbuilding and great character writing. The combat is fun at first with a lot of customisability for your characters, but it becomes too easy once you get the hang of it. This makes it so that I wouldn't recommend this game to people who don't care about the storytelling aspect of video games and only play for the combat. For everyone else: I definitely recommend you to try out this game if you've become somewhat interested in it.
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  3. Aug 3, 2017
    9
    The Trails series has always set the bar quite high within the JRPG genre, and Trails of Cold Steel certainly earns its right to bear the nameThe Trails series has always set the bar quite high within the JRPG genre, and Trails of Cold Steel certainly earns its right to bear the name of this franchise. I would say that in particular, this game even stands out from previous Trails titles with its level of characterization and overall lovableness of the main cast (helped in no small part by bonding events reminiscent of Persona). Not only is the lore deep and interesting, the game eases you into it masterfully, so that even series first-timers can get a solid grasp on the significance of certain plot events. The combat mechanics, a huge step up from past games, are incredibly fun and evolve a bit over the course of the game. The game overall just has a peculiar effect, a spirit to it that hooks you and forces you to form emotional attachments to main characters, locations, factions, and even NPCs - which makes it all the more effective when some of these attachments are tested in Trails of Cold Steel II.

    This new PC port comes out swinging with a ton of potential; the higher-end graphical enhancements more than rise to the challenge of adapting what is essentially a handheld title to meet the standards of PC gaming. However, while the largest flaw of the Vita version (long loading times), seems to have been resolved, there were a few graphical glitches in the game's initial release. It seems, though, that the developers immediately recognized these issues and jumped to work on fixing them, so I expect they should be patched up very soon. And of course, the anime-stylized 3D models that were at least passable in a 2014 handheld seem a little awkward in a 2017 title.

    All in all, Trails of Cold Steel is a high-tier and incredibly fun JRPG that will stick with you for a very long time (and at 70-90 hours per playthrough, it had better). As with most Nihon Falcom titles, the game's concept, story, and "heart" are a solid 10/10, while the execution unfortunately tends to waver at a 7/10. This is nonetheless an excellent game, and a must-play for all JRPG fans.
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  4. Jul 10, 2020
    8
    Pros:
    - Fantastic story
    - Character development - Different and very likeable characters Cons: - Not always good balance between spells
    Pros:
    - Fantastic story
    - Character development
    - Different and very likeable characters

    Cons:
    - Not always good balance between spells and skills or even some stats

    Overall a very good with a fantastic story that more or less takes place over 9 different games. You can dive right into it with Cold Steel, but you'll have some spoilers about things that either happen in Trails of Azure and Trails to Zero as well as Trails in the Sky.
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  5. May 4, 2018
    8
    Newcomer's perspective.
    Having been a sidelines binge-watcher of the persona series for a while I decided this was the best way to get in on
    Newcomer's perspective.
    Having been a sidelines binge-watcher of the persona series for a while I decided this was the best way to get in on the action since I do not own any Sony consoles. As is the case I picked up this game knowing little to nothing about it beforehand and I was pleasantly surprised. For a game that was originally handheld this game holds up really well. I played it to completion once and I will perhaps buy the sequal. To not waste your time I will only state the low points here.

    The gameplay can feel quite unbalanced. I was playing on hard mode the entire game through but I still felt that certain parts of the game were simply unfair. Having prior knowledge of what status effects are going to be present is basically mandatory if you don't want your party to lose 3 straight turns to the boss. I also find the limit breaks (excuse my final fantasy) a little on the stupid to balance side. The game makes it quite clear through the stats that you are required to use them on the bosses as much as possible. Though I would rather them be lowered in power along with enemy health so other tactics would work too. Also one-hit KO's through sheer damage from the boss do not belong in any game period.

    Story, surprisingly engaging. It has some holes but that is to be expected. Fan service always comes first and I like it.

    Hidden quests and other "should've done that now you can't now play the game again" **** can die in a fire. Forcing people to whip out a guide on what was once a handheld game is ridiculous. It breaks immersion, leaves you open to spoilers and makes you miss out on stuff you paid for. You don't feel smart or rewarded or accomplished from them either.

    I only saw minor graphical glitches at the end of the game and they were not enough to fuss over. The game ran smoothly and the initial setup was plenty to get me through to whole game. Having actual control prompts is already a step up from other ports that shall not be named here. Doesn't earn extra points for me.

    The dub itself is also decent though sometimes the voice acting starts midway through a cutscene. If this is intentional or not to build up surprise for a character appearance or unexpected event is debatable. I was less bothered by it than others.

    All in all I like it for what it's worth and I can only hope the rest of the series is even better.
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  6. Feb 4, 2018
    8
    "Trails of Cold Steel" is finally on PC. To me, this franchise has been the best continuation of classic 1990s JRPGs into the modern era."Trails of Cold Steel" is finally on PC. To me, this franchise has been the best continuation of classic 1990s JRPGs into the modern era. This game shouldn't disappoint anyone who liked "Trails in the Sky". The main differences are a new story, obviously, it has many connections to "Trails in the Sky" but the fresh characters are nice. It is extremely anime and borrows from the Persona games pretty blatantly. The main character is a painfully generic anime MC. That said, the writing is good and the cast of characters is pretty strong.

    It drops the complicated Orbment system of the previous games, which definitely makes it more accessible, but after having spent all that time learning how to combine orbments to get really cool abilities, it did feel a little unrewarding to have such a simplified system. The game also has an unconventional weapon system where instead of just buying them from shops or looting them in dungeons, you need to do pretty simple crafting to get good weapons. It has promise.

    There are some other minor differences but this game is extremely familiar if you've played others in the franchise. I liked the story in "Trails in the Sky" better, it was less generic, and the Estelle character was a very strong lead. This story isn't bad though, and the twists at the end, even if a bit silly, did have me ready to fork over some cash to see what happens next.

    The graphics in the game are very, very basic. It was a Vita game after all. They're really not the reason anyone's playing this game, but they are good enough to be a bit immersive and engaging.

    I didn't like the soundtrack as much as the previous games, which had songs I downloaded and put on my phone to listen to again. The battle music is pretty good though.

    Ultimately if you enjoyed the previous games, this one is a sure-fire hit.
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  7. Jun 13, 2019
    3
    Having beat the game after 100 long hours, I have to say that this is by far the worst jrpg Falcom has ever made. And I am a total fan ofHaving beat the game after 100 long hours, I have to say that this is by far the worst jrpg Falcom has ever made. And I am a total fan of them.

    This game takes a lot after Trails in the Sky in terms of worldbuilding and introducing interesting NPCs... however while TIS did it while presenting a compelling and interesting main quest... In TOCS they simply FORGOT about that!

    Sure, there are some recurring villains along the trip, but the main characters basically bump with them by total dumb luck one time after another, stopping their plans continuously does not seem to affect their schemes at all, their movements have no sense and are never explained, and both groups are part of a bigger scheme that makes them basically irrelevant.

    There is nothing except worldbuilding. Only at the literal last hour of the game the player is blessed with some real story development.. Only so they could end it abruptly with a cliffhanger.

    Such a complete waste of time is almost infuriating, and the press has the arrogance to compare this with TIS 1 and 2... Honestly, I am so fed up with this game that I don't even care what happens next in the story. Hour after hour of fetchquests hoping for some advance in the main quest, to receive it only when the game was about to end, after 100 friggin hours, my patience simply has given out.

    In the end, the game feels like an introduction that any other RPG with good writing could have done in 8 hours. instead they stretched it beyond the limits of human decency.
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See all 22 User Reviews