by Sean Martin
reviewed on PC
WAR IN EREBONIA
After the success of Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel’s PC port, it was only a matter of time before the sequel was ported as well. And I have to say, it’s an accomplishment to have brought us the sequel so soon after the original. I’m aware it’s only a port, but still 50% more of the dialogue has been given voice-over in English and a whole host of new graphical settings are available.
So the story goes (I won’t spoil the first) Erebonia is now at war; The Noble Alliance (the fancy bad guys) and the Imperial Army (not so fancy good guys) are waging war across the country. Class VII are separated, hiding out in a variety of locations. You play as Rean Shwarzer, unofficial leader of Class VII, setting out to re-unite his classmates and attempt to disarm the conflict which is ravaging the land. Along the way, you’ll encounter a whole host of weird monsters, even weirder bad guys and uncover some of the mysteries remaining from the first game.
Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is undoubtedly a worthy sequel in regards to the continuation of the story; I was even pleasantly surprised that I could import my save file from the first game, confirming to me that the decisions I made in the first weren’t pointless. There are some new battle options too, further deepening the Arcus mechanics, which allows you to link attacks with other characters. Overdrive is one such mechanic, allowing you 3 consecutive turns of attack with your partner. Also the introduction of Divine Knights (big robot fighting suits) adds a whole new type of battle, which while often feeling simplistic and easy, makes up for it in bad-assery.
But on the whole the game feels very similar to the first, and you’ll take part in the typical JRPG occupations. You’ll do side quests, a bit of dungeon crawling and you’ll have to fight big weird looking monsters. In the first game, these occupations were enhanced by the school setting; by the classes you had, the field trips you took and the rest days you enjoyed. This made the first game feel unique, and while the second tries to use this same idea, it doesn’t really work. The students of Class VII aren’t in school anymore, they are fighting a war of their own, so I feel the game should’ve tried to reflect that, rather than copy and pasting the structure of the first.
As this is a port of a game that came out four years ago, I agree that examining it critically does seem somewhat redundant. But there are some very important factors that the player must be made aware of. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II re-uses a lot of the first game; you find yourself visiting the same locations as the first, some of the boss monsters are the same, and even the dungeon crawling sections are almost entirely identical. I don’t know why this is the case, whether it was just easier this way, or just part of the formula; that if you enjoyed the first, you’ll enjoy more of the same. Perhaps that’s true as well, but as a player interested in the continuation of the story and who loved the first, even I began to get tired of the repeated content. Sure, there are new battles, new dialogue, new stories, but the setting and the essence of what you’re doing is entirely the same.
In this sense, the game is bittersweet for me; I’ll keep playing because the story is engaging and I want to see what happens to Class VII, but the battles and exploration don’t hold the same spark that they did in the first. So if you are considering playing this, without having played the first, don’t. The first is a far better game and includes very similar content. If you play that and find that you are sufficiently interested in the story, then I’d recommend getting this game as well. But this is a game I would only recommend to JRPG fans or to players engaged with the ongoing exploits of Class VII.
Divine Knight battles are cool, engaging story.
Too much repeated content.