A gripping story that sees the evolution of one young man and his ambitions to bring change to the world.
- System: Steam/PC
- Publisher: XSEED Games / Marvelous USA
- Developer: Nihon Falcom
- Release Date: February 14, 2018
- Rating: T
- Genre: JRPG
- Players: Single Player
- Official Website: http://www.trailsofcoldsteel.com/cs2/
Who it Caters to
Nihon Falcom are no strangers to the RPG genre and so when it comes to creating an immersive experience that’s gripping both in narrative and gameplay, you know that what’s in store will be a promising ordeal. Without diving into spoilers for those who haven’t dabbled with the original Trails of Cold Steel, we’ll say that much of what you experience in the sequel is a mere continuation of the events that took place at the end of the first one, with plenty more to discover as you play through. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is actually quite an old game, as it was released in Japan in September of 2014 for both the PlayStation 3 and Vita respectively, but for the first time, those in the west have a chance to explore and learn more about Rean’s backstory. Anyone who’s a fan of the series will certainly take a liking to the new gameplay mechanics as they take a different turn than what you experienced in the first, but we’ll dive a little deeper into that in the gameplay section. For now, if you’re looking to continue on with the journey and follow Rean along with his fellow comrades to restore peace back to the world, then definitely grab this one.
What to Expect
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II plays very similarly to the original in terms of its turn-based approach, while allowing players to explore the world around them to gather items and complete various quests. The main difference however is in the structure of how everything plays out, which takes out the school schedule method of approach that we became so used to in the original, and replaces it with a style that allows you to do what you please and not have to attend classes every time. A nice little added gift is that those who managed to complete the first game will experience the game a little differently than those who haven’t. If there’s a completed game save on your file, specific events along with some dialogue will actually differ which is based around how you developed relationships prior. So it’s a nice little incentive for you to complete the first game in order to see how things pan out!
Much of the story takes place a month after the events during the end of the original, with Rean regaining consciousness after suffering a heavy defeat from Crow. He wakes up to see Celine standing atop a rock glancing down at him, desperately hoping that he’s alive and well. When the two finally come to terms with everything that’s happened and Rean’s Divine Knight Valimar lying dormant behind him, they both head off in search of the rest of the crew who disappeared. You return to Ymir along with Toval the bracer after being saved by him and eventually reunite with your family. All that ends abruptly as Rean’s sister Elise is kidnapped along with Princess Alfin by the Noble Alliance and so now with Toval by his side, his mission now becomes to reunite with his friends and save his sister along with the Princess before it’s too late.
So as we mentioned earlier in the article, the school schedule based gameplay is no longer part of the agenda and much of the gameplay now revolves around you exploring more of the world how you see fit. It’s by no means an open world experience but it definitely beats going to class every time. The formula is still very much intact with regards to how you engage in battle with enemies, using your Rush attacks and Overdrives to deal absurd amounts of damage to the enemy before they get a chance to. For those who are new, Overdrive allows you to take extra turns alongside your linked partner, which can really add up especially when you encounter strong enemies along the way. It gives the battle scenarios a lot more flavor and over the course of many battles you regain your Overdrive meter by dealing damage to the enemy, which attribute to your points after the battle. The higher the points you receive after battle, the more meter you gain for Overdrive. The story within the game is still as compelling as the first one but tends to get a little dry during the mid portion. It doesn’t last too long however as towards the end game, the story picks up again with shocking plot twists which we’ll let you experience for yourself.
Much of your time playing becomes somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster ride as you never really know what to expect at certain times. Nevertheless everything plays out as it should and redeems itself entirely as we said, towards the later portion of the game. Anyone who’s a fan of the series will certainly not mind and we feel that hardcore fans of the JRPG genre will still find Trails of Cold Steel II to be endearing in many regards. Those who played the original will surely have more fun with the sequel than those who are just jumping into the series for its stand alone appeal, since much of the story is connected and provides you with a more concrete understanding of where things are going. We still hold Trails in the Sky in high esteem on our tier list for impressive narrative but The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II still manages to impress us with its wonderful cast of characters, their overall relationships and the drama that unfolds once more truths are revealed.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
While the game may be dated by western standards and the trilogy already out in Japan as of last year, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is still a fresh and invigorating experience that’s hard to ignore. As you dive deeper into the plot and come to learn of the divide between factions, you realize that there’s a far more sinister plan that’s taking place behind the scenes. You surely get hints of it throughout the gameplay but it does leave you wondering just what lies ahead and only builds more hype for when Trails of Cold Steel III makes its eventual release in the west. When that will happen, we’re unsure but at least you can slowly start to unravel some of the mysteries beforehand so that once we do get our taste of the third installment, all the pieces will start to come together. We will state though that the dungeons do grow rather stale after a while and perhaps that has a lot to do with Trails of Cold Steel II’s linear gameplay. It doesn’t rob you of the overall experience but it certainly does feel a bit dry at times so just something to be mindful of.
- Compelling story as usual.
- Character relationships and bonding just add more flavor to the narrative.
- Much of the mechanics are retained from the original making it easy to transition into the sequel.
- Dungeons felt a bit dry at times.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We hope that you all found this review to be insightful and provided enough details to ensure your experience is just as fun as ours. Since there really weren’t many vast improvements other than some gameplay tweaks like the removal of the school schedule, the game still played very much the same. Whether you think that’s a good thing or not is entirely subjective but as we stated before, any fan of the series will fall in love with the game regardless because it’s just too much fun. Be sure to catch us streaming the game live on Twitch.tv/Honeysgaming and see just how things unfold in real time! Get a chance to chat with us as we play and learn more about the awesome world of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II!
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.