Trails of Cold Steel: The Journey's off to a Classy Start

Trails of Cold Steel: The Journey's off to a Classy Start

A return to old-school RPG greatness

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Play Journals on

The Legend of Heroes has been around for a long time and this fresh new tale is a triumphant revitalization for the series. Iron your uniform because you're about to be schooled on this underrated RPG gem.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel screenshot 1
I wish more RPGs would start in the middle of the story like this

I've been a fan of Nihon Falcom's RPGs ever since I played Faxanadu for NES and Ys for PC when I was about six years old. It wasn't until years later when I got a PSP that I discovered The Legend of Heroes series. As with many other localized Japanese games, they were released out of order where the first one was actually the second in the series and vice versa. Thankfully, I played them in the correct order. Anyway, my love for the series reached a whole new high when I played through Trails in the Sky. The complex story, simple and challenging gameplay, and endearing characters made it an instant classic in my eyes. Now that my pre-order of Trails of Cold Steel for PlayStation 3 has arrived, I know what the next few weeks of my gaming time will be spent doing.

As of writing this, I have only finished the introduction as well as the prologue so I have a long journey ahead of me. So far, I absolutely love the cast of characters and the interesting premise. Basically, the story begins five months in the future where you're in the middle of a war. Not much is explained, but the fact that things end up as tense as this at some point in the story definitely makes me excited to see what's to come. The prologue involved the main character (Rean Schwarzer) arriving to his first day at Thors Military Academy. He bumps into fellow student Alisa Reinford and they wonder why they have red uniforms while other students are dressed in white and green. It'll all be explained soon so it's off to the classroom. I hope Rean won't be late...

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel screenshot 2
You wouldn't expect your first day of school to be in such a creepy building

After orientation, Rean and Alisa as well as the seven other students wearing red went a separate way to the rest of the attendees. Then, we all met Instructor Sara who generally explained that we compose Class VII. Classes one and two are for aristocrats and three to five are made up of common folk. So, where's Class VI? Anyway, Sara then pushed a button that made all nine of us fall through the floor to an underground dungeon that would act as our introduction to Class VII. As we worked our way through, it became apparent how certain nobles don't like being associated with regular citizens and some normal people can't stand the fact that the nation actually has a class system. Although this is an intriguing dynamic that has the potential to allow characters to develop, I hope that it eventually takes a backseat to more serious matters. However, the characters are so unique and fun to watch that it'll be fine either way.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel screenshot 3
Of course, Alisa just had to fall on top of Rean to pave the way for an awkward relationship

When it comes to gameplay, I merely have a general sense of what the battle system involves but I can tell already that it's awesome. The battles are played similarly to Chrono Trigger where characters move around and perform abilities that can damage multiple enemies in a line or radius. The abilities are divided into Arts and Crafts which I think is pretty funny. I can just picture Rean finger-painting in the middle of battle, but I digress. Each character has a unique weapon that matches their personality and allows them to fight completely differently. These weapons have slots for orbs that grant stat boosts and new abilities just like Materia does in Final Fantasy VII. Thinking of all the possibilities of battle has me looking forward to continuing my journey.

Upon reaching the end of the prologue dungeon, a gargoyle came to life which acted as the boss of the area. A hilarious moment occurred where Jusis exclaimed, "What sorcery is this?" which is actually a reference to the Gargoyles animated TV show from the 90s. After beating that sucker, Instructor Sara formally congratulated us for being the first Class VII.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel screenshot 4
Nothing brings people together like fighting a massive gargoyle come to life

I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience with Trails of Cold Steel so far. If you liked what you read then stay tuned for further installments as I progress through this exciting RPG world.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - Story Trailer 1:27

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