By Jenae R / June 7th, 2019
|Title||The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II|
|Release Date||June 4th, 2019|
I recently continued my adventure in the world of Cold Steel with the second game, Trails of Cold Steel II. This entry continues a month after the first one left off. The first act is much like the first game as well, only this time rather than going on field studies, you’re tasked with reuniting with your classmates after the war broke out. I won’t be going too in depth on the story so as to avoid spoiling what is a very long narrative with a lot of twists and turns. Nevertheless, keep reading to find out more about this sequel and if I think it’s worth your time.
Technically, CS2 can be played as a standalone title. There’s a backstory option in the main menu to get you caught up on important events and many times those events are brought up and briefly summarized throughout the sequel’s story. However, you might not feel as invested if you haven’t played the first game for yourself. CS1 does a lot to set the scene of the second and show you the problems the country is facing. Plus, there are numerous recurring, less important characters, so you’ll have a lot more context if you play the first game. Though I have to mention how the second game is horrendously long. It felt like double, if not triple the length of the first Cold Steel title. If you’re not prepared for a massive time investment, it honestly might not be the series for you. I’m now stuck in the position where I’ve gotten absorbed and I’m firmly invested in following Rean’s journey wherever it may go. But I do feel like this entry in particular dragged on for far too long. The Final Act wraps things up pretty well and after that could definitely be considered to be post-story content. Unfortunately, that post-story is required if you want to activate the option of carrying stuff over for new game plus.
While the length of Cold Steel II is a potential negative, the gameplay isn’t. They added a lot of new features that I appreciated in this installment, most of which open up in Act 2. Before Act 2, the game plays similarly to the first as I stated earlier. You’ll re-visit various towns while on the hunt for your separated classmates. Then you’ll head back to Ymir (Rean’s hometown) and get a free day to bond with whomever you choose. Afterwards, you gain the ability to travel more freely between those towns while you complete quests and you’ll unlock some neat features that were only briefly available during certain events of the first title. Such as, the orbal bike and the ability to use a horse outside of Nord. Once you get to this point, it’ll no longer feel nearly as linear. They’ve also added tweaks to the combat. There’s the new addition of an overdrive function, where two characters who are combat linked can act for a few turns without interruption. All of these new features help keep you from getting too annoyed with the repetitive gameplay patterns of the series.
There’s one other addition to CS2 that I loved, and that is the ability to use various characters in battle who were featured in the original but either weren’t playable or were only very briefly playable. Some of those characters include Class VII’s instructor Sara, the Icy Maiden Claire and even her highness Princess Alfin (at least in the post-story). In all honesty, as much as I adore JRPGs, it annoys me how repetitive and ridiculously long the Legend of Heroes series is. Still, the intriguing story with all of its twists and turns and the lovable characters, kept me sucked in.
One more thing, you can find our original CS2 review over here and I do suggest you read through the first drama CD that XSEED translated. Its events are mentioned multiple times and was seemingly cut content from CS1, which was made very obvious. If you’re interested, feel free to check out my review of the first game. Oh, and the ability to transfer your save files from PS3 and Vita is once again an available feature, or you can carry over your CS1 cleared save data from its PS4 version.
Overall, Trails of Cold Steel II is a grand adventure and one worth going on. Sadly, there are drawbacks. For some people, the length may not be worth it and if you’ve already played this one on PC, there isn’t really anything that’s new aside from the physical perks in XSEED’s new Relentless Edition. Also, I should mention that in the final dungeon, before the post-story, the game crashed and gave me a PlayStation error during one of many important boss fights. And this one in particular I seem to remember being a multi-parter and having quite a bit of story, so I couldn’t save for a while. But I don’t know if that was a game glitch or just a one off issue with my PS4. Ultimately, I enjoyed my time with CS2. I just can’t help myself, I’m invested now. In the end, I’ve fallen for Class VII and I very much look forward to the continuation this fall, when we finally get Trails of Cold Steel III here in the West. If you’re willing to make the time investment (the return of turbo mode will help with that by the way), I truly do recommend this series to most JRPG lovers.
Review copy was provided by the publisher.
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