Back in March, Xseed Games published Falcom’s PS4 port of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. Originally released for PS Vita and PlayStation 3 in 2015, this new port brought the instant classic RPG to the PS4 ahead of the PS4-exclusive Trails of Cold Steel III. Bringing the previous two titles to platform parity with the third game makes sense, as these are direct sequels that have save-transferring functionality. Now, it’s time for the second game to come out, in similar fashion. Much like the previous title, this is a straightforward port of the PS Vita/PS3 version, with nary a new bell or whistle in sight. That’s okay though, because if you haven’t played these games before, it’s the perfect time to jump in. Trails of Cold Steel is a great rabbit hole to tumble down, especially with the new twists and turns to the gameplay.
The Most Direct Sequel
Be warned: here, there be spoilers. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is a direct sequel to the previous game, in the most literal way possible. It starts immediately from the ending of the first game, which was one of the most nail-biting cliffhangers in JRPG history. Seemingly out of nowhere, albeit perfectly foreshadowed, Crow betrayed his friends and country, and did so in epic fashion with a giant freakin’ robot. Mind, Trails of Cold Steel was not a game about giant robots. Protagonist Rean gets a giant robot of his own, and the battle between the two ends with Rean retreating and leaving his Class VII friends behind on the battlefield. Heavy stuff, especially because so much of this series is about the bond between friends.
Some time passes, and Class VII are circumstantial dropouts. Thors Academy is under occupation by the enemy forces, and the various classes have been scattered across the country and taken on specific roles in the ongoing conflict over control of Erebonia. As Rean, your first mission is to get the band back together. As you find each member of Class VII and see what each one has been up to since the previous game, you get a real sense of growth from each character that goes a long way to selling the whole world as a real place inhabited by real people. Once everyone does get back together, the stuff really does hit the fan, and several hours of build becomes several hours of thrilling payoff.
School is No Longer in Session
In terms of play, Trails of Cold Steel II is much like its predecessor in that combat is more of a means to an end to get through the plot, than a focus in the game. It’s fairly standard turn-based JRPG fare, with a couple exceptions. The orbments are back once again, which allow for some pretty in-depth customization option between various moves and elements, passive boosts, and whatnot. Overdrive is a new mechanic for this game, which is an additional meter you can burn to get an immediate boost, from healing to eliminating skill casting times. Interrupting the planned flow of battle is a big part of the recent Legend of Heroes games, and Overdrive is an additional element in that conceit. Finally, of course, are the robots.
The giant robots or mecha in Trails of Cold Steel II are called Divine Knights, and are not to be taken lightly. These battles, despite being a big part of the last game’s plot twist/cliffhanger and a totally conspicuous plot element in general, are actually quite scarce. They’re more big payoffs for getting through the game’s lengthy on-foot chapters, than a regular part of the gameplay. Since they’re somewhat gimmicky, this helps them feel cool more consistently, totally avoiding wearing out their welcome. They still almost feel out of place in the grand scheme of things, but are always a noticeable and effective presence. I mean, we all dig giant robots, so it’s fine.
If you refer back to our review of the first game’s PS4 port, you can expect a similar kind of experience here. For the most part, this is a no frills port of Trails of Cold Steel II from the PS Vita/PS3 to the PS4. There are some differences, which are largely in line with the PC version. There are additional voice recordings for some dialogue, as well as access to the Japanese dub, which is a first with the PS4 version. The resolution is also much higher of course, for better or worse. Aside from the new physical goodies you’d get from purchasing the Relentless Edition, there aren’t any cool bonuses to speak of. You do get a little something from importing the first game’s save data, but that’s about it.
All things considered, unless you’re a completionist, want that new swag, or were simply looking for a good excuse to replay it, the new PS4 version of Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II probably isn’t worth your time. Unless you’re new to the party, that is. Regardless of its tragic lack of special features, Trails of Cold Steel II is, like the one before it, an incredible game and must for JRPG fans. With Trails of Cold Steel III on the way, anyone who loves to get lost in long-winded storytelling, extensive world-building, and friends gushing to each other about their feelings needs to give this series a whirl. And now’s the perfect time, with both of the first games finally on PS4. Class VII’s story is far from over, but now you can dive in on your current hardware.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PS4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.