DEMO REVIEW: ‘ The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3,’ (Switch)

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 is a JRPG developed by Nihon Falcom, Engine software, PH3 GmbH, and published by Nihon Falcom, Nippon Ichi Software, NIS America and NIS America, Inc.. Follow the adventures of  the students of Class VII. Trainees at a special military academy, and their instructor Rean. A recent graduate of Class VII himself. He now seeks to help the newest group of students rise to the challenges that await them.

The Legend of Heroes  has been one of those series I’ve been dreaming of playing. Having heard only amazing things about it, it’s always appealed to my love of beefy JRPGs that are built on unique combat mechanics and well fleshed out characters. With it’s upcoming Nintendo Switch release it’s finally coming to a video game platform I own. And my hype couldn’t be higher.

First of all, you might be wondering how accessible The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 will be to a new player to the series.  While my limited time in the demo revealed a game set in a deep and complex world I’m happy to say that the game comes equipped to aid new players to the series. Right in the main menu are handy primers that can be read. These include recaps of the first two games, as well as bios on the major characters, and an introduction to the world at large.

When you first start up the demo you find yourself within a besieged castle. No context is given for what is happening, but whatever is happening is clearly serious. After some dialogue you find yourself in control of your party of four students as they charge through the castle. An image fills my screen informing me of the various controls. As I have little understanding of what terms like craft mean, it is mostly gibberish. Luckily the first few fights are well-designed gimmes to get my feet under me.

The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel 3 — But Why Tho (1)

When contact is made with an enemy the player is brought to a dedicated battle screen. There the party, along with its adversaries, are all ready to go. On the left of the screen is a turn bar, showing the order that characters will take actions in. With just minimal experimentation I’m able to get a hang of the basics of combat. Everything from utilizing the various character abilities, to the importance of proper positions on the battle field is grasped quickly during these opening encounters.

After a few easy battles, followed by a more challenging boss fight, I am whisked away from the chaotic events within the castle. A new screen comes up informing me that it is now three months earlier. Here I witness the founding of a new military academy, a cadet branch of the one seen in the previous games. After a ceremony and proper introduction to the cast I am put through a thorough, and happily fun, tutorial.

This did a great job of filling in all the blanks to my earlier experiences. Also, this setup of playing then teaching had the unexpected effect of making me feel just a tiny bit clever. Having confirmation that I had divined the functions of certain game elements made me feel good. Even if their purpose wasn’t THAT obtuse. Once I finished these tutorial battles I was informed that I had completed the prologue. After a lovely fully animated intro sequence the demo had come to an end.

While the gameplay was a blast, the visual presentation of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 is simply well done. Aside from the lovely anime-style cutscenes the in game graphics while bright and enjoyable, aren’t going to blow anyone away by any means. But, if you enjoy a crisp anime-inspired look to your game you won’t be disappointed.

My demo lasted just under three hours, and quite frankly, I enjoyed every minute. The characters were entertaining, the combat was fun, and with just this brief glimpse I can tell there is a rich world just waiting for me to explore it. This is definitely my most hype summer release at this point.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 is currently out on PlayStation 4 and PC and Switch now.

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