Arguably the biggest struggle with ongoing stories is that the userbase should continue to decrease. It’s very rare you get someone who decides to just jump in at some random point, meaning they either need to track down the previous stuff or opt out entirely. This is more of a problem for games than movies/series, as games generally have a higher investment and it can be hard to play older titles. This is where remasters and remakes have become more of a norm. With The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel IIIset to release later this year, the previous two titles are set for rerelease, starting with the original, The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel. With a wide variety of characters, long history for the franchise and various improvements, is the series a must or is there a reason it’s not talked about very often?
The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steelis the start of a new arc, taking place in the Erebonian Empire, following Rean Schwarzer and Thors Military Academy’s Class VII. After showing where the story will eventually lead, players are sent back to the earlier days when the team is largely shown the divide between the working class and nobles. Eventually the team is told to investigate an old schoolhouse and the mysterious happenings there.
Over time the story evolves to be much more than meets the eye. With shadowy groups, an assassination and figuring out what lead to the events at the start of the game, it gives players plenty to experience. The only downside is the massive change in tone from the beginning and starting parts of the game can lead to players losing interest or wanting to skip past parts that might not be exciting but make up a lot of the games overall tone.
Outside of story, The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steelhas a rather interesting combat system. Every character has their own specific weapon and power, which you need to swap in and out to overcome various threats. This is something that comes with time, so don’t be afraid if you don’t get it at first, though isn’t terribly important on lower difficulties.
As for the fights themselves, it’s a cross between your run of the mill turn based RPG and a more dynamic one. Players take turns issuing various orders, with some attacks taking multiple turns, with the ability to block, defend, use a special attack and so forth. The major difference is the ability to sometimes link attacks, typically when you land a devastating blow, and use a finishing move called S-Break.
What makes these moves stand out isn’t the flashy nature, something that is typical of the genre, or even the ability to change the battles tide, but how they’re used. Even if it’s currently one players turn, you can choose to use another players ability. It’s perfect for those moments when you know a specific attack is required or just give you a last ditch effort to win.
Besides combat, players are given locations to explore, tasks to complete and other things you’d expect from an RPG. It isn’t the most impressive in any real regard, though it does a lot to build an immersive story experience. This makes it more story than gameplay driven, though just different things to look out for.
Even though this is a remaster, the experience can sometimes feel a little flat. Characters are not the most expressive and the world can sometimes look bland, even if more details were added after the fact. In a lot of ways it looks closer to a remaster of a PlayStation 2 game than one from PlayStation 3. This isn’t a bad thing per se, just don’t expect a more generic looking lower budget title than something like Final Fantasy.
The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel has a fair amount going for it. With a fascinating and deep story, there is more than enough to keep players entertained, assuming you can sit through the slower parts. Combat is just a step above what you’d find on a low budget turn based RPG. Not the best, certainly not the worst, so fun enough to stick with it if you enjoy the story. Sure, visuals could be better and there are some rough parts, The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel manages to be fun enough to justify sticking on the ride until the end.
[Editor’s Note: The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]