Trails of Cold Steel Decisive Edition (PS4) Review
I happened to visit an old friend of mine's house a while back and noticed an intriguing looking RPG being played on his PS3 that seemed to me at the time very much in the same ballpark as some of my other favorite RPG's such as Final Fantasy VII, or Dragon Quest. Indeed, what little I saw those couple years ago interested me enough so that when I heard a remastered bundled edition of the whole series' legacy would be coming to PS4, I immediately added it to my radar. And lemme tell ya, it was worth the wait and anticipation.
Ok, so for those of you who haven't been so lucky as to have indulged in the wide world of Trails of Cold Steel, allow me to explain briefly what it revolves around. The fictional world of Zemuria is governed by a territory known as Erebonia. Our story of this first game in the series takes place specifically in the Erebonian Empire. It revolves around several high school students who have enrolled at an esteemed Military Academy all for their own personal reasons and the events that take place after their enrollment. Basically, the game will have you fill the shoes of main protagonist Rean Schwarzer as he attends classes, bonds with all his classmates, and go on extensive field studies where you will not only get to discover new towns and regions scattered throughout the empire, but also carry out missions and tasks for the government & local police force. Rean soons finds out after arriving at Thors Military Academy that he and his classmates of Class VII have been selected for a new curriculum and field of study & research. Rean & the others soon begin to unravel the truth behind the sudden arrangement of a new "class" that they are mysteriously apart of and they all soon discover that their roles in the Academy will be much more of an important one than those of the normal students in the other classes. Basically, (without spoiling anything), there is ALOT more to Class VII than meets the eye and there are many characters in the shadows pulling strings and setting things into motion than they could have ever anticipated. But the chapters of the game are divided among months mostly. At the beginning of each month, you will control Rean at the academy doing normal tasks such as attending classes with teachers popping random questions on you about the lore and mythology and the current affairs in politics of Erebonia. You will want to answer correctly because if you do, at the end of the month when your report card is handed out (yeah you WILL be graded each month based on how many tasks you completed) and if you did answer correctly you will get an extra AP point. AP is basically a scaled list of rankings and the higher up the rankings you go, the better prizes and rewards await you. Not to mention, that you will get more opportunities to bond with classmates of Class VII such as Alisa Reinford or Machias Regnitz. It will seem like normal school life until you embark on the field studies. And these are a treat as well, as you get to escape the campus of Thors and go explore the vast world and learn about the different cultures and societies of Erebonia.
But the most amazing part about Trails of Cold Steel is the sheer amount of detail and depth that is added in at every interval in the game. What I mean by that is, anytime you advance just a little bit in the story, the entire surrounding environment will adapt and change such as the NPC's dialogue, character placement and optional tasks to uncover. And this is a big thing cuz it CHANGES ALOT!! And you will not be able to do anything but appreciate the time and effort it must have taken just for the dialogue alone! An NPC will almost never say the same thing twice if you have progressed at all in the main campaign and this is a such a grandiose task and for the dev's to have made it look as easy and flawless as they do here deserves major recognition. The graphics are a little behind the times but come on, the sheer amount of activities and optional quests and events waiting to be discovered are among the many!! The more you uncover and complete, the higher your military ranking will go!!
If you are a fan of JRPG's or RPG's, the factors I have already discussed will be more than enough to win you over! But as if that weren't praiseworthy enough, the combat is legit as well. You have crafts which are character specific abilities that use up CP and CP does recharge as you do battle. And there is the element of magic in the form of Arts and while Arts take time to cast, they make up for with the power they possess. Each character has a set amount of EP (MP basically) and they can cast as long as their gauge doesn't run dry. The attacking part of the turn based battles will rely on you as the player to form combat links with each party member. You will want to spend as much bonding time and time linked in combat will all members of Class VII as the ability to Combat Link is a MAJOR advantage in battle and as you level up each particular link with each character, new abilites become available. For example Level 1 Combat Link ability is normal attack, however Level 2 will see a normal attack plus if the enemy is low on health after the first attack a deathblow will be administered. And they only progress and develop much better and stronger abilities as they level up.
In a nutshell, there has been no better standalone release of Trails of Cold Steel yet in the US than this Decisive Edition, which comes packed in a BEAUTIFUL red Steelbook Case with a detailed and thick game manual detailing all you need to know to get started. Trails of Cold Steel is the first chapter in a vast and thrilling saga that will surely invest you in the lives of the students at Thors Military Academy. An epic and unforgettable adventure. You don't wanna miss this if you at all like RPG's!! Trust Me!!