The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Review

Introduction

Trails Of Cold Steel II is a turn-based RPG developed by Nihon Falcom. It is a direct sequel to the first game in the Cold Steel series. It had an initial release in 2014 in Japan on PS3/Vita before it came to North America and Europe in 2016. It then saw a PS4 version in 2018 and 2019 for Japan and North America and Europe respectively. It was published by XSEED Games.

Review

A civil war has erupted in the nation of Erebonian. The Nobles are trying to take back the power that they think is rightfully theirs, by force, from the Royal Family. Entire cities are held hostage from the Noble Alliances armies, while the Imperial Army is trying their best to bring order back to the nation. New weapons for combat have erupted on the scene, unlike anyone has ever seen. Class VII has seen the chaos spread, and now themselves are entangled in the war, and unfortunately they are the only ones who may be able to stop it, save Erebonia, and take back their school in the process. It’s now or never.

The story picks up a month after the events of the first Cold Steel game, and Rean takes it upon himself to find his classmates that are now scattered around the province, all while not getting caught seeing that he has a warrant out for himself. The story itself has such a great pace to it, especially after the first one. Not only are you trying to retake your academy life, but you’re trying to not let the civil war escalate any further and cause more death and destruction. I got choked up a bunch during the story, as every reunion with a character was so heartfelt and emotional.

The only thing that I got confused about while going through the story, is keeping who is who, straight. Everyone is labeled as either the Noble Army, the Provincial Army, or the Imperial Army. So I was going “wait aren’t they the bad ones? Who works for the royal family? I’m so confused!”. Though that’s probably just my own fault in all honesty. There’s just a whole lot to keep track of. Especially when all the crazy antagonistic groups start showing up.

The story itself by the end of the game drags on. At one point in the story, a big twist is revealed, then you get a little movie with emotional music, then a tiny cutscene after. I expected it to be all done and over with, as it would’ve been the perfect ending. But nope. There were two more entire chapters after the “finale” chapter, and by the end of it, the ending didn’t seem to have had as much impact as the one scene that I thought was the ending. It was emotional, but didn’t have the same power to it.

The gameplay is basically the same as the first game but more refined. It’s more balanced, the bosses aren’t as brutal as they were previously and new kinds of battles were included. My favourite part of course was the fact of easier bosses. So with a good strategy on Normal difficulty, I was able to squeeze out a victory with some planning, so I was always paying attention. There’s also new treasure chests that give you battles to fight with a specific team, and if you’re able to clear them, those characters unlock a new skill between themselves. That being the ability to use Overdrive with each other, and not just with Rean. So if I was ever in a pinch, and two people needed more health and CP to use their ultimate abilities, I was able to link them together, and use overdrive to gain some of those things, and get three turns immediately to act on! It made the battles so much more strategic and fantastic.

Instead of being thrown around the world as you progress the game, you get to sort of pick and choose where you want to go this time around. You’re given the world map and access to almost everywhere. Even if it’s not story related, you can go ahead and tour around Legram if you want, or take your motorcycle around the Nord Highlands! It was interesting and fun. Even at a certain point you get a choice on how to tackle a series of dungeons.

We can’t forget the side quests. There are a slew of them this time around! Not only because of the “official” side quests you can partake in, but also because you have the choice of finding all of the students from Thors that are scattered around. The downside? 90% of the quests are fetch quests. Which really sucks. Every student to recruit needed you to get them something so they’d come with you. Sometimes you’d have to fight a monster, but not often. Those were usually saved for the “official” side quests. Eventually I wanted to just start leaving people in the wilderness, but I couldn’t do that to my dear old classmates. They don’t deserve such treatment!

After each big story beat, you get to settle down and choose who you want to be best friends with, and spend time around. Sort of like a high school dating sim! You get a specific amount of points to use, so you have to decide who’s worthy of your love. At the end of the game, you get a special scene for a character of your choice that you’ve become really close with. I had three by the end, and I watched them all, and honestly, there’s no real difference between them. I do wish I could’ve seen everyone’s scenes throughout the game, because it’s so hard to stay loyal to just a few people!

Now my biggest gripe with the game is that there is a secret scene that is actually pretty important. This secret scene can only be obtained if you do a NG+ run through and manage to fulfil the specific requirements for it. Mind you it really should’ve been added in the game without NG+ because not many people will willingly play a long JRPG for a second time, literally right after they just cleared it. It makes no sense to me! Thankfully, there’s YouTube! Least someone on there has people covered for the scene.

Rating

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Pros:

  • Pacing Is Much Better
  • Battle System Is More Refined
  • Characters Are Even More Loveable!

Cons:

  • Can’t Spend Time With Everyone
  • Secret Scene Is Locked Behind NG+
  • Last Two Chapters Were Completely Unnecessary

Summary

After the slow burn that the first Cold Steel was, I went in with a bit more of a tempered expectation to this entry. But it is so much better than its predecessor, and it has me pulling late nights just to keep playing it! I love the world and characters and twists and turns and I just want to keep playing through the series right now! But I need a break because I don’t want to burn out. Play this game people!

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Game & Developer Information

Developer Website: Nihon Falcom
Developer Socials: Twitter
Publisher Website: XSEED Games
Publisher Socials: Twitter
PSN Store Links: £34.99/€39.99 Europe / $39.99 North America
Trophy Information: 51. 40-platinum 1 / Gold 2 / Silver 10 / Bronze 38

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II – Launch Announcement

Published by oniwalker

Co-owner of NodeGamers(dot)com. Reviewer and Guide Writer. I'll play just about anything as I cry about my backlog!

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