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Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

Sigma90

Brain of Cthulhu
Yes, it abbreviates to LoH: TitS. Now we've gotten that out of the way... :)

The third chapter of this series was recently released on GOG, and I assume it'll also be available on Steam. Links for GOG: First chapter | Second chapter | Third chapter. The first and second chapters are the same storyline, with the second chapter picking up right after the first ended. The third is related to the first and second, but has a different storyline and focuses on other characters.

Three things combine to make this an excellent game series: the story, the characters and the combat.

The first chapter starts off rather slow and boring. There's a lot of exposition and a lot of things to learn and it can get confusing. By the time you've reached the second part of FC, things start to pick up. Over time, I found myself caring more and more about the characters and what happened to Liberl.
SC picks up after the events of FC and unfortunately suffers the same slow start. Midgame, it may also get repetitive. But it really does shine in the end!

The characters are very well written and each have their own personality and motivations. Unlike many games where female characters are relegated to a support role, in LoH: TitS, the female characters are just as effective in combat as the male characters*. All of the characters have different combat styles and they come and go as you enter new areas.
* While female characters are perfectly capable in combat, the male characters are usually stronger physically while the female characters are usually stronger with Arts.

It is more forgiving than the average JRPG. If you fall in battle, you have the option to retry the battle without any downtime. There's even an option to make battles easier each time you are defeated. (I haven't tried this option.) Or you can revert to a previous save and grind a little.

There's probably one thing that might turn players off: implied incest. Estelle and Joshua are not blood relatives. Joshua is adopted. So technically, it is not incest.

What do other people think of the game? Favourite moments and battles? Please use spoiler tags as appropriate, especially for later game events.
 

Aurora3500

Moderator
Staff member
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I love this game series overall. I found out about it a long time ago because of how this game has the same developers as Ys to work on it.

As a person who loves JRPGs and long quality stories within them, this appealed really well, in being Nihon Falcom's series focused on TBS (Turn Based Strategy) compared to the Action oriented Ys series. Both game series which specialize in different parts of gameplay.

I agree with a lot of what you said. The characters and overall story are really well developed. I've been interested in learning more about the recharging Orbment technology that this game World uses, and it does a nice job in slowly easing you in, and teaching you about the World around you in the Liberl Kingdom, along with a little info about the Country's nearby neighbors. The characters grow on you as well. All throughout the 1st game, and in the 2nd game since you already know the characters, you grow ever more attached to them.

The sense of mystery given by who the masked figures are has been an interesting element throughout the 1st game as you explore each new region. You can tell that they are manipulating people like the Sky Bandits and Mayor Dalmore from the shadows, and there is a professional feel to them all throughout. It is from this professional feeling of the Black figures which lead to early hints that they may actually be part of the Intelligence Division, as no ordinary criminal would be this professional and skilled overall. It turns out that was right once the party sees the Black figures enter the airship which is then seen near Leiston Fortress. Which is supposedly the most secure area in Liberl.

Really loved the buildup overall in the 1st game and it made for an awesome ending. With the Dungeon below Grancel Castle being great for a final dungeon. Even through this dungeon it was well setup to make it look like it was only the beginning, to lay the foundation for the next Chapter of the game.

I've heard that originally FC and SC were supposed to be 1 game, but the game itself got so huge, that it had to be split up into 2 games. And this evident in how the FC alone takes at least 50 hours to play normally. Without taking into account how some people like me will spend lots of time on sidequests/grinding.

Love how this game takes place almost exactly after the FC. Making it one of the few games in my opinion to directly continue the story from a previous game. Many games get sequels overall, but in many of those cases, they won't take place right after the 1st game, or there'll be some form of timeskip or new characters/setting.

The Intelligence Division lead by Richard attempting a coup in the 1st game was on a huge scale in itself, and was epic to put an end to it. The 2nd game makes this coup seem like a tiny part in a plan of an even greater scope when we learn about the Society of Ouroboros. The secrecy and power of the Enforcers here was something felt throughout the whole game, bring the feeling of the series to a whole different level. As the ones who manipulated all of the major story events from behind the scenes and the revelation of Joshua's past at the end of the 1st game.

Unlike the 1st game I played the SC on Hard Mode, and it's been a very brutal journey throughout. The game is very unforgiving on the higher levels of difficulty which is a sharp contrast from the easier difficulty settings. I've gotten through most of the SC, and have ended up stuck on the Final Boss. Since the battle before that (Lowee) was one of the hardest battles ever. The game itself understood that this battle was so difficult that it gave you the option to make the battle itself easier. And with Weissman as the final boss, I've still yet to beat it.

Because TC has come out now. That needs to change, I need to beat SC before I can start TC. To feel that I can continue the story. Work and life overall have gotten in the way of it, ontop of the giant backlog of other games to play as well

I'm excited to start the TC when I can. It's been an awesome series. One I've really enjoyed playing. Part of me wants to restart from the FC and try to beat all 3 games again. Even though that would take a very long time. I mainly want to do it for the Story though, and that's what NG+ is for. Since TC is out now. I may end up doing that sooner than later. And I'll be excited if Trails of Cold Steel gets localized as well. That's the one that takes place in the Erebonian Empire from what I remember.
 

Sigma90

Brain of Cthulhu
It's been a while since I got it, but I've started TC (better known as TiTS the Third). TC picks up a few months after SC and focuses on one of the new characters from SC. However, the main characters from FC and SC reappear too!

As luck would have it, Trails of Cold Steel has been released! (Link is for GOG, I assume it's also on Steam.) I can't quite tell if it's a sequel or not of the Trails in the Sky series from the description, but it is part of the same series. This games takes places in the nation of Erebonia, Liberl's larger and much more militaristic neighbour.

Coming back into the series of TC reminded me of just how much I like the characters. Every character in the series is likeable and everyone has a reason for doing what they do. The game averts tropes like the "unlikeable :red: who is a :red: just because" that you often find in other RPGs. And despite the massive cast of playable characters, every one of them has a fully fleshed-out back story, motivation and personality. They all play slightly different and they all have strengths and weaknesses. It can be difficult to choose which characters you want to take out in your party.

TC extends the combat even further through small changes. For example, enemies may have a weakness or resist to meta-elements in addition to the standard elements (Fire, Earth, Water, Air). Turn bonuses now include effects such as Death on hit.

Playing TC now makes me want to restart FC and SC and try to get all the sidequests and hidden goals. I finished with a bracer rank of B (or B+), so I was pretty thorough. But I know there are things I missed.

The game is one of the rare few that can evoke emotion within me. That's probably testament to its great writing and localisation. When the Jaegars, led by the Enforcers, attack Grancel, it was pretty painful to watch the Enforcers massacre the army. Especially painful was the S-craft Blueblanc performed on the general. It reaches its lowest point when the Enforcers capture the Queen and Princess.
This gives way to a moment of hope as the (freed or escaped) Intelligence Division shows up to subdue the Jaegars and Richard and Cid foil the Enforcer's kidnapping. It shows how brilliant a strategist Cassius is: he anticipated and prepared for this attack. Cassius's role in the Hundred Days War is not fully explained other than that he the commanding officer. But it's easy to see how Cassius won the war just from his strategies during the later events!

The hope is short-lived as it's then reported Erebonian tanks are approaching Liberl, under the guise of peacekeeping. (Which absolutely no-one believes.) This made me so angry. After all the work done to save Liberl, Erebonia tries to invade it? Oh boy... Yes, it's a game, but it's a hallmark of a good game if you start to care about things like that.
Olivier presents a thorough case as to how the leaders of Erebonia are in league with the Society, but it's not really touched upon afterwards. That was a disappointment. It's also implied Olivier may lead a coup against the Empire at some stage. Perhaps Trails of Cold Steel follows through with it?

Since the battle before that (Lowee) was one of the hardest battles ever.
Loewe was a near-impossible battle even on Normal difficulty. He can split his already insane stats into three people. Each of those three people can use the same S-crafts, they all have an ungodly amount of HP and they have fast speed. If Loewe and his clones all use their S-crafts in rapid succession, it's game over. This battle was the first and only battle that made me consider turning on the option to make battles easier. Weissman was far easier in comparison.
There isn't really a strategy to defeating Loewe either. Other enemies and bosses had a tactic to help victory or a gimmick you had to take note of and exploit. (A memorable example comes from the final boss of FC: If you unleashed a powerful attack (usually an S-craft) on the final boss, it'd retaliate with a huge attack of its own. So the strategy here was to use less powerful attacks so as not to provoke the revenge attacks.) But nothing for Loewe... it's just an insanely strong fighter vs. your crew of bracers.
 

Sigma90

Brain of Cthulhu
I thought Loewe would be the most difficult fight in the game series. I was so very wrong. This boss in TC would wipe the floor with Loewe and I have no doubts it'll be harder than even the final boss(es) of TC. It's so difficult the game even includes a "Retry (Easy)" option as if the developers or localisers knew the battle was impossible. (I've never seen such an option before.)

80,000 HP and takes scratch damage from attacks and arts. Their basic attacks hit for 10,000 HP damage, they have two crafts that the entire field plus a line of fire craft and a single target craft that inflicts AT Delay. Speed is phenomenally high. Resists every status effect I've tried so far.
This boss is just cheating. A cross between a dump truck and a tank without a speed penalty.

The boss is Brigadier General Cassius Bright.
No wonder the Society got him out of the picture rather than trying to kill him. There's not a chance the Society would have succeeded in an assassination.

Not helping is taking Anelace in. I have no idea what she's good for. She's average at fighting, meagre at arts and has no useful supports nor crafts to speak of. Estelle is better than Anelace in every way. The only use I've found for Anelace is healing -- something anyone can do and other party members are better at. I'm going to try again with some different party members and see how it goes. Maybe Joshua and Estelle, because that would be really ironic.

TC hasn't really held my interest like FC/SC. This is not a criticism, just an observation. FC/SC have weak starts and get stronger. TC started strong but couldn't keep up. By about the third/fourth chapter, the 'escape the area' thing starts to wear thin. The characters (in-game) all imply they know what's going on and who is doing it, but none of this information is shared with the player.

The Sun, Moon and Star Doors are oftentimes more interesting than the main plot. Entering these doors provides "memory fragments" that show either the past, before FC or what happened after the events of SC. For example, one door shows how Schera met Aina. It's definitely worth seeking these doors out and opening them!
 

Sigma90

Brain of Cthulhu
Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II has been released on GOG. I assume it'd also be available on Steam.
There's a crapload of DLC with it. The GOG release announcement states that if you any of the Trails in the Sky games, you'll get a code for some of the DLC.

I finished TITS: TC a while ago, so perhaps it's time to write up some thoughts...
Things start to get interesting at Chapter/Plane 6 onwards. Mysteries start to be answered and secrets revealed. The issue I personally had with the game is that some of these didn't come as twists or surprises. If you've played FC and SC properly, you'll recognise the answers almost immediately. To see the in-game characters stumble through five planes pretending they don't know is kind of boring and painful. In fairness though, the game does have a reasonable explanation of why things are the way they are.

The Doors also get more interesting, revealing information about the series as a whole. Not all of this information is necessarily something you want to know! For example, one character's backstory is absolutely horrifying and should come with a trigger warning. It's disturbingly accurate to what survivors of such events report they did to cope. Fittingly, the Door is also in the bottom of Hell.
The fishing minigame is boring as heck, relies a lot on luck and gives you no significant rewards. Feel free to skip it. The other Doors are worth completing.

It's probably a game for the fans that will appreciate the backstories.

As for that impossible boss: I stand by what I said previously. Not even the end game bosses are this difficult. And no other boss after it has the "Retry (Easy)" option.
As mentioned in my previous comment, it's Brigadier General Cassius Bright.

I defeated him legitimately (no easy mode or cheats) with a team consisting of Joshua, Estelle, Kevin and Richard.
Begin the battle with Kevin using his 200 CP S-craft to shield against two hits. Keep in mind Cassius will open the battle with multi-hit attacks, so surviving this is crucial to or else you'll be spending too much time healing. Then put your characters in each corner. This will prevent Cassius's multi-hit attacks from striking more than one person.
Try to get Cassius to focus his attacks on Joshua. Or if you prefer, bring another tank, e.g. Zane, in place of Joshua. Physical attacks do scratch damage to Cassius, so this is where the magic casters come in. With Estelle, Richard and Kevin, you have three magic users that can focus on healing and offensive spells, as well as soak some hits. Single-target arts and S-crafts are generally better than multi-target or area arts/crafts. Earth Guard arts to nullify attacks are also valuable.
It's a long battle, but as long you can keep Joshua healed up and offensive magic flowing, you'll whittle down Cassius's HP. Use S-crafts as they become available.

Oh, and you have to fight Cassius Bright TWICE.
The second time is in the Nightmare Arena, and you have to fight Cassius teamed up with Loewe (the Bladelord, aka the impossible to defeat boss in SC that you can skip). Impossible, right? That's what I thought at first, but no. By the time you fight him in the Arena, you'll be a higher level. Don't get me wrong - Cassius still hits like a truck. But your characters will be stronger too.
The same strategy as before will still work. The trick is actually to ignore Loewe until after you've defeated Cassius. Loewe is not that strong here. But if you attack him, he'll start summoning clones. When you have Cassius and three copies of Loewe, then you'll have problems.
 

Aurora3500

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
I've been meaning to get into the new Trails in the sky games. I was able to beat the final boss in SC at some point last year after finally putting my mind to it. And the ending was golden.

The growth that Estelle and Joshua go through together makes the ending feel even more special. After being seperated because of the actions of Weissmann, and then coming together in the end, and also helping Lowee. Beating Weissmann felt so satisfying. Especially considering how he had a :red:ton of HP in both of his Angel Forms. It was a super long battle. It takes 2 hours to fight Weissmann. But totally worth it for the music and ending. It was nice to see Ragnard again since he is best Dragon. And the ending theme to this game moves me to tears everytime I listen to it. I have the game OST on my MP3 player too.

I've started the TC and own Trails of Cold Steel 1, but haven't played it a lot. Have been jumping between a bunch of other games, but I will eventually get into both. I've been waiting for Cold Steel for awhile to experience Erebonia and it's strange that I haven't even started the game yet lol. I'll probably purchase Cold Steel II at a later time after I've started the 1st Cold Steel game.

The GOG release announcement states that if you any of the Trails in the Sky games, you'll get a code for some of the DLC.

Do you know if the code for the DLC will be good forever or if it's just temporary?

Otherwise at some point, I will be getting into playing the TC for Trails in the Sky. At the same time, I do want to replay the 1st 2 games in NG+. Those in themselves will take an eternity also :dryadgrin:. The lore in the TC is pretty interesting overall, I kind of expect to spend a lot of time exploring the extra lore from the doors instead of grinding. Though there will still be lots of grinding also since I wanted the brutal challenge of hard mode.
 

Sigma90

Brain of Cthulhu
Do you know if the code for the DLC will be good forever or if it's just temporary?
There's no indication it's a temporary offer, though that would a question for GOG to confirm.

The lore in the TC is pretty interesting overall, I kind of expect to spend a lot of time exploring the extra lore from the doors instead of grinding. Though there will still be lots of grinding also since I wanted the brutal challenge of hard mode.
Definitely a game for the lore! You'll want to get something that protects from Death attacks equipped very quickly. For the end game, I levelled all of my characters to level 130 before starting the final chapter. This was based on a continued save from SC - I think their starting levels were in the mid-90s. As with FC/SC, the random encounters aren't too difficult, but the bosses require some thought and strategy.

TC made me want to play TITS's successor. From what I've read, there is another series between TITS and TOCS, but Falcom sold the PC rights to another company, so XSeed can't get it. Sad to hear. I hope they come to an arrangement because I REALLY want to know what happens next. I'll get the TOCS series when its third part is released.

Now if only there was an item that protected against Vanish...
 

Aurora3500

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Thought it would be a good time for an update since a lot has happened in a few years.

Been thinking about this again as Trails of Cold Steel IV is scheduled to be released for tomorrow.

Also compared to the last time I posted, I have beaten Trails in the Sky 3rd and it absolutely has been a thrilling conclusion to the Sky trilogy while setting up Cold Steel. The backstory given to Kevin helped to make him a very compelling character while also giving satisfying conclusions to the other characters we know and love including Tita, Agate, Kloe, and many others.

And to top it off, it certainly has a ton of high level intense fights. Including one of the hardest battles in the trilogy.



Now I'm almost finished with Cold Steel II with plans to play Cold S teel III and IV as well and I'm excited to learn more about Kuro no Kiseki being the long anticipated Calvard Arc. Feels like a very great time to be a Trails fan!
 

Sigma90

Brain of Cthulhu
Trails of Cold Steel IV is now released: GOG page. (It'd also be available on Steam.)

Reflecting on the games, the world and story building is one of its major strengths. Strangely, knowing some spoilers from later games can make the earlier games more appealing as you wonder how events play out.

My last post was Sky 3 and since then, I've completed Cold Steel 1 and 2. Although it takes place in a school, it remains just as fun as Trails in the Sky is. Only Falcom could make studying for an exam interesting. It is particularly interesting to play the Cold Steel series after Sky. Sky presents Erebonia as being an evil empire, bent on world domination at any cost. Cold Steel shows that nope, most of Erebonia are normal people wanting normal, peaceful lives. But the shiny exterior of Erebonia is dulled as you visit various locales in the country and see how the corrupt government and class system is causing problems.

Cold Steel introduces new features to the turn-based battle system. There is a new engine that offers over-the-shoulder 3D instead of the isometric top-down view of Sky.

As a whole, I have greatly enjoyed the series so far and recommend it. There are nonetheless a few points that were letdowns. All of these are from Cold Steel 2, as Cold Steel 1+2 form two parts to a whole like Sky 1+2 do. (Spoiler warning.)
1. Obsession with 'rescuing' a classmate, conveniently forgetting they're the leader of a terrorist organisation, attacked innocents, assassinated the Chancellor and instigated the civil war. In contrast to S and V, no reasonable justification is provided. There's a heroic sacrifice involved that you can see coming from kilometres away.

2. Romance / bond system is underdeveloped. Do it for fun, not for serious purposes. All romances play out the same way and all will end with them breaking up. CS2 saves do not carry over to CS3.

3. Thors is a two year course. Class VII disbands after one year as the classmates (and instructor) decide they have better things to do.

4. Lost Arts are a nice addition and offer extra strategy. I found most of them were not worth it considering they drain your EP to zero, have very long casting times and can be used once per battle. ARCUS slots are too valuable. They're best used when you have a Zero Arts turn bonus. The most useful was the art that heals all characters to twice their maximum HP. If all Lost Arts were this useful, it would have been a much better addition. (Compare one Lost Art that simply offers attacking twice in a row - once. You can get a better result from Overdrive.)

5. Over-reliance on S-crafts for Trial Chests and later bosses. The way the bond system gives bonuses like Anger and Fury (increase CP) highlights this was probably intentional. When the boss has 400,000 HP and your attacks are doing 1000 damage, you're going to be in the battle for a long time without S-crafts to take HP chunks out.
 
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