One of the highlights at the GameStop Expo was a playable English build of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel at the Xseed booth which, to our surprise, didn’t get that much attention. But once this game comes out, we really wouldn’t be surprised to see it achieve a respectable amount of success in an attempt to stand out among other RPG releases this late into the PS3’s lifespan.
At this point in time, we’re assuming most of you reading this preview are people already well oriented with the series. The last game to come out in the long-running Legend of Heroes series is Trails in the Sky FC, which saw a Steam release about this time last year with its direct sequel supposedly due out in the coming weeks. Trails of Cold Steel is a new arc set in the same universe as Trails in the Sky, and it also takes place at the same time as Trails to Zero and Trails to Azure–two titles that haven’t been confirmed for a western release despite those two games coming out before Trails of Cold Steel chronologically.
Taking place in the Erebonian Empire, the game follows Class VII, a group of young students in the empire’s newly organized militia. Upon my conversation with Xseed’s demo person, she didn’t know of a set main character, and judging from the game’s artwork, it’s looking like the main character is pretty much everybody in the group.
The actual demo we played was actually the game’s prologue, as the party we took control of was considerably strong. Class VII looked to be infiltrating a facility full of machines, and it’s here where we got some time with the battle system.
Despite the fact that there was quite a bit of Japanese writing, it all felt familiar as I actually just beat Trails of the Sky a little more than a month ago. The main differences in gameplay were mostly visual, as the game features the option of rotating the camera during the heat of battle, and you can have characters freely roam when using the “move” option, instead of limiting them to spaces on the battlefield.
For the most part, battles are the way they’ve always been. You have your standard options for attacks, movement, arts, and crafts. The Active Time Bar on the left still displays the turn order for everybody in the fight, and special S-Breaks have your characters perform their signature abilities out of turn to influence the tide of battle.
The end of the demo had us going against two robots, but with a combination of the various spells and crafts at our disposal and the lack of guilt we had for using items, we were able to do away with them quickly.
So what’s new? The first new feature of which is the Tactical Link System that allows players to select which characters are “linked” and the linked characters can perform one of three devastating attacks. The cool thing about this system is you can switch links whenever you’d like, just in case you made a mistake, so there’s really a lot of freedom here.
Also noticeable was the fact that the Sepith system seems to have been replaced by a different way to assign spells. We didn’t get that much time to really discover what it was all about, but Xseed’s representative made a lot of comparisons to the Materia system in Final Fantasy VII, which is about as straightforward as it gets.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is scheduled for release on the PlayStation 3 and Vita this November. For more on The Legend of Heroes and other games at the GameStop Expo, keep it locked on SmashPad.