In its three years of existence, Nintendo Switch has become a powerful Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG) with dozens of great games to choose from. Competition from Square Enix (Dragon Quest XI S, Octopath Traveler, and the next Brave by Default II) and Nintendo (Fire Emblem : Three Houses, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Pokémon Sword and Shield, and the next Paper Mario : Origami King). While these massive exits on the tentpoles are probably enough to satisfy many fans of the genre, it’s the add-on games that really keep the system where it should be. Games like Ys VIII, SteamWorld Quest, Rune Factory 4 Special, Ni No Kuni, and Valkyria Chronicles 4 are just a small sample of the fantastic worlds to explore on The Exchange.
NIS America has long been a supporter of JRPGs, and it’s great to see them putting together the popular The Legend of Heroes series. The original series of games has arrived on the PSP, and this new series of games, Trails of Cold Steel, is entering its third iteration, with a fourth to be announced next year. I admit it’s a bit odd that Switch owners start with Trails of Cold Steel III, especially since the games share the same world and characters. It’s like starting a Star Wars franchise with Return of the Jedi. Having never played the previous two games in the series, I was grateful that the game included a recap of the first two games. It takes a lot of reading and frankly, it can be very confusing to keep track of all the characters. This summary is also available on the official website if you want to read the story in advance. While I appreciate the effort, there’s no substitute for playing the first two Trails of Cold Steel games, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be on sale.
Starting Trails of Cold Steel III without participating in the other races in the series can be challenging. That’s because the game takes you right to the heart of the matter, controlling a group of characters you have no idea who they are, what they’re fighting for, or what’s going on. Very quickly, you get into the fight and are supposed to know how the combat system works. This may not be a problem for those familiar with the series, but newcomers should just be fooled by these encounters. Since there is no manual or instructions, I was absolutely surprised that the game started out this way. Coincidentally, in about fifteen minutes you finish this part of the game, and go back to the beginning, and then you take control of the main character in the game, Rin, and start unraveling the plot. They will also finally receive some of the manuals that were missing before. Who else misses the 80-page manuals and guides that accompanied the JRPGs on the NES and Genesis? I know I can’t be the only one!
You play Rin Schwarzer, a recent graduate of Thor’s Class VII Military Academy. He is now the new instructor for the new Class VII and must train a new group of students in special operational skills. In a sense, the game is starting from scratch, but it’s clear from the start that those who have played the first two games have a much better understanding of the world, the story in general, and the many characters who interact with Raine. As the story unfolds, we are introduced to other characters from Rin’s past that probably would have had an emotional impact if I had played the previous games. But even without knowing it, the reunion is fun, and the various characters seem to have real personalities. The history itself is very political, with annexed territories and different factions vying for power. Generally, I’m not very interested in this kind of story, but the interaction between the group members and friends proved to be the glue that held everything together and kept me clicking to see what would happen next.
Two things are important to me in a JRPG: History and struggle. Both should be convincing to me, and I’m glad the Trails of Cold Steel III does it. I was particularly impressed with the combat system, as it adds different levels of strategy that are easy to understand and fun to play. Unlike many games these days, this one sticks to the turn-based combat model that all JRPGs adhere to. You can take as much time as you want to decide on your next move, and I really enjoyed this approach after Final Fantasy VII Remake on PS4. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this combat system too, but there’s something comforting about going back to the mechanics of the lathe.
The user interface controls are presented here in a transparent way, in combination with the action buttons and numeric keypad, giving you eight possible options without having to navigate through menus. You have the usual options, such as. B. Attack and use objects. You can also cast spells through the art team and trigger special attacks through the ship icon. Both types of attacks require the required number of points, so you need to keep an eye on your counter in battle. There are basic systems that allow you to trade spells that you can use (like fire, healing, etc.), and you can even target enemies’ weaknesses to break them, effectively stun them, and allow you to do massive damage. Another interesting facet of the combat system is that you can perform combat nodes, meaning that your partner can follow your attack with another as long as you disrupt your opponent’s balance by targeting a weakness. Needless to say, I barely scratched the surface in this review, but the game does a pretty good job of detailing these things as you go along. In other words: Don’t worry too much if you feel overwhelmed at the beginning of the game, because you’ll find out. Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed this battle system, and it’s really well designed to keep entertaining throughout the adventure, and there are even some mech fights! Who doesn’t like fur?
The overall presentation is a bit mixed, especially compared to the games that clearly have a bigger budget. The graphics are vibrant and colorful, and I really like the design of the characters. The geometry of the game certainly looks like the latest generation, and I have no doubt that the PS3 or maybe the Wii can handle some of those environments. While there are a number of interesting places to visit, including some really nice towns and villages, I found the dungeon rather inadequate. You spend a lot of time in the training center you come back to, and it gets pretty old. As you cut and run through some areas, you’ll notice that the game isn’t as pretty as some of its competitors. Sharp, flat polygons stand out here and there, and things like buildings seem to be cut and pasted with low-resolution textures, which really detracts from the overall visual presentation. The positive is the detailed characters who really know how to express an emotion through animation. The overall look reminds me a bit of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, with elegantly designed characters and intriguing monsters. The whole game looks like an anime, and in a way it immediately reminded me of Fire Emblem: exploring the campus. Three Homes, and there’s really a bit of character development here where you talk to the students and learn more about them.
The soundtrack and voice acting are pretty good, especially considering that the game will probably last at least 40-60 hours. Some characters give slightly better writing than others, but for the most part I was pretty impressed. Music is a strong point, which is no surprise with Falcom, who are known for their great titles.
I will not deny that there is a barrier to entry Trails of Cold Steel III that might discourage some players. If you absolutely need to know all the details of past games, you can play them on competitive systems first, read a short game summary or even watch some YouTube videos that will surely inform you about important issues. As a new player to the game, I was overwhelmed for the first hour or so, but things started to fall into place and I enjoyed it more and more as the game progressed. The result is a great game here, full of fun turn-based combat, endearing characters and a fascinating world to explore. I understand why this series is so engaging, and even if you don’t have the emotional connection to the characters returning from previous games, I want you to know that you can really get into this iteration and have a good time. There are so many other JRPG options on the Switch competing for your money and attention, and this is one of the best!
Heroic legend: Cold steel track III – Overview
- Charts – 7/10
- Sound – 8.5/10
- Gameplay – 8/10
- Late Call – 8.5/10
Final thoughts : GRAND
The Cold Steel III titles are a long and fun JRPG that gets lost in a sea of competing titles. The fact that Switch owners have to remake the third part of the series doesn’t help, especially since the story and characters are directly inspired by previous games. However, if you stick with it, you’ll be rewarded with a fun combat system, charming characters, and an exciting adventure.
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently an editor and contributor to Age of Games.
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