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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Game Poster Image
Excellent adventure sequel demands play of previous game.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game's set in a world of conflict. Civil war has broken out between nations and the tensions between classes have reached their boiling point. In spite of this, the main characters find common threads and forge friendships and relationships that cross these boundaries. These themes of friendship, teamwork, compassion, and understanding are core to the plot.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rean is a good character with strong beliefs and a deep-seated desire to help those in need. He and his fellow students are loyal to each other, with strong bonds of friendship.

Ease of Play

The game uses a turn-based combat system that allows players to think ahead and plan their strategy to an extent. But there are many options to sort through in battle, which can interrupt the overall flow. Players must also work their way regularly through a lot of character menus full of equipment and abilities to keep their party battle-ready. Reading skills and statistical analysis are also handy to follow the story and to figure out the best combat options.

Violence

Violence occurs regularly, pitting the player’s party against humans, robots, and fantasy creatures using a variety of attacks, including swords, guns, and magic spells. While the combat doesn’t show much blood or graphic violence, cutscenes occasionally show more explicitly violent images of blood and death.

Sex

Many female characters are shown in revealing outfits meant to highlight their sexuality. The game’s dialogue also occasionally makes suggestive references to female characters’ chest size, often using terms like "boobs" or "boobies."

Language

Some profanity and offensive language, including "s--t" and "a--hole" occasionally appear in dialogue, as well as some sexually suggestive lines.

Consumerism

As a direct sequel to The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, it often assumes that players have played and completed that game, almost to the point of making it a requirement to understand the events here.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters are shown smoking and drinking alcohol, with lines of dialogue referencing either drinking or being drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is a PlayStation 4 remaster of the original PlayStation 3 and PS Vita role-playing game, and the immediate follow-up and companion to the first Trails of Cold Steel. The story continues the series’ theme of civil war and brewing tensions between society’s classes of nobles and commoners. Combat frequently occurs, though depictions of blood and death are generally limited to just a handful of cutscenes. Parents should be aware that there's some strong profanity in the dialogue, such as "s--t," as well as sexual comments and references. Many female characters are also presented in a way to emphasize their sexuality, such as revealing clothing and offhand comments from other characters. Characters are also shown smoking and drinking, as wel as commenting on being drunk.

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What's it about?

THE LEGEND OF HEROES: TRAILS OF COLD STEEL II picks up with Rean Schwarzer waking from a one-month coma after his defeat at the end of the previous game. In that time, civil unrest has broken out into full blown war between the Noble Alliance and the Imperial Army. After falling in battle before, Rean quickly realizes that even with the power of his Valimar mech at his side, he can’t stop the war on his own. With his fellow Class VII students now scattered throughout the countryside, Rean sets out with a new goal, one that wil take him to every corner of the Erobonian Empire: Reunite with his friends, attempt one last ditch effort to restore peace, and end the civil war once and for all.

Is it any good?

Sometimes a story is just too grand in scale and scope to be told in one sitting, which can often lead to frustrating cliffhangers that leave fans dangling and wondering “What happens next?” Such was the case with the first entry in the Trails of Cold Steel saga, but now fans are able to finally get some answers and continue their adventure with the PlayStation 4 remastered re-release of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II. This sequel picks up immediately after the cliffhanger of the previous game, which is great for fans but not so much for newcomers. Because so much of what happens in Trails of Cold Steel II is built off what happened before, playing through the first game feels like a requirement. There’s so much going on and so many references to past events, jumping in here is like walking into a theatre halfway through the movie and understanding what’s going on.

Gameplay in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is just an extension of the first game, so fans will feel right at home. There’s still a lot of pre-planning required before diving into combat, with players needing to make sure they’ve got the correct equipment and abilities active to take on specific threats. It’s a “rock-paper-scissors” formula at its core, but with a lot of variants and options that can be difficult to keep track of without practice and patience. It requires a lot of strategic planning and a lot of trial and error, which could test the patience of some players, especially those unfamiliar with the series. Even so, it’s a deep experience that stands strong on the foundation laid by the first game and feels genuinely rewarding in the end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Talk about the portrayal of women in media. What are some of the positive and negative ways that women are portrayed and treated in video games?

  • What are some of the ways that people can grow through building relationships with others? What can we learn from others with a different background, culture, etc.?

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