The Legend of Heroes series of games has long been known to connoisseurs of Japanese role-playing games. A real surprise hit awaits you with The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. But whether it is worth joining the series, you will find out in the following game test.
A country caught up in war!
Right at the beginning, the game throws you into the middle of a war. In your homeland, called Erebonia, a conflict has been developing for years, which primarily affects the various class societies. But don't worry, at the height of the battle, “The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel” throws you back five months until the train journey where the main character Rean Schwarzer starts to study at Thor's military academy. On the first day all students are divided into the different classes and so Rean and his classmates come to the newly founded class VII.
This special class is made up of students who belong to different classes and thus a small revolution is taking place in the realm of Erebonia.
The story follows the everyday school life of Rean and his comrades as well as the associated training. Each classmate fights with a different weapon, and thus perfect in close or long-range combat or magic.
The system with the arts and crafts
In turn-based confrontations, which you can always consciously tackle or avoid thanks to visible opponents, your party confronts all kinds of monsters or mechs. The attack range, which you can improve thanks to relatively free movement on the battlefield, is important for success. On the lower left edge of the screen you can always see which figure is next, which gives you a good overview. At the beginning of the game, each figure is given a so-called orbment in which you can insert different quartz stones. These quartz stones have an impact on your arts attacks or equip your character with additional skills. Another way of fighting are the craft attacks, which you can use by using the points of the same name. You can recharge the point bar, in which you pocket or distribute damage. If your opponent misses you, the attacked person can launch a counterattack, another special feature are the link assists, but more on that later.
Everything starts with school
legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel is set in a school, so that's where we spend some of our time. Our main protagonist Rean, who also takes part in the lessons, has to answer questions from the teachers, do exams and much more. Of course, you don't have all the fun for free. Because for completing these "tasks" you get "academic points".
There are also many side missions to be completed at the school. By the way, the quest giver is also the chairperson of the student committee. As in real life, in addition to the regular school days, there is also a day off on which you can deal with side quests, for example, or take care of the relationship with your party members in special events. The better your relationship with your party members, the more positive the fights with them will be. Because this allows you to carry out link-assist attacks that cause significantly more damage to the enemy.
Because of the many dialogues with the teachers, townspeople and classmates, you now and then have some decision-making options and can thus steer the further course a little. Overall, however, this is more of a decorative accessory.
If you feel like a bit of variety, you can have a little fun in the shops or cafes in the city as well as on the school grounds with the sports hall or the student union. As in every classic JRPG, you level up your characters with acquired experience points, of course, but the aforementioned Academic Points and the quartz stones that you use in your orbments are also important here.
Stale but fluid graphics
In terms of graphics and technology, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is pretty solid. Admittedly, the graphics are very old-fashioned, although it is a remake, but what is happening in the world runs absolutely smoothly and for the most part without stuttering.
The pretty character models are particularly noticeable here, especially the detailed outfits, which are anything but modern - at least as things stand today.
Many of the dialogues are set to music in Japanese and English and the music can also be very inspiring, especially in the fights. The menu control and key assignments can at least be described as "strange" - but you quickly get used to it.
The anime intro, which runs in the main menu and can inspire with a harmonious background music, must also be emphasized.
Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel media
Number of players: 1 players
Playing time: 60 hours
Long-term motivation: moderate
Publisher: Nihon Falcon
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Year of publication: 2019
Platforms: PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Microsoft Windows
Cost: 39,99 Euro
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel proves again that you don't need good graphics to have fun playing. The story is particularly convincing because of the strict class system in which the nobility is superior to the bourgeoisie in many ways, arouses tensions and rivalries in the inhabitants of Erebonia, which one can easily empathize with. The round-based combat tactical combat system convinces with a clearly structured combat menu in which you get many ways to influence the fight.
Everything is complemented by mini-games. These include fishing or your own card game. They take care of the little fun in between. One must emphasize the many well-voiced dialogues and many well-designed cutscenes. The soundtrack underlines the situations apart from the fighting. In the arguments, trance music drives the player strongly. Falcom likes to use the electric guitar for their soundtracks and puts gamers in ecstasy.
The turbo mode allows you to move faster, to fight the fights faster or to deal with the sometimes long dialogues faster. He generally speeds up the game, although not much else has changed in the game's technology. Unfortunately, the text output, which is in English, is very negative. This means that players without a good knowledge of English should have a few problems with such long conversations.