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Game Review: Arknights

Sunday, March 29, 2020 / No Comments
Stuck at home with nothing other than free time on your hands? Bored of re-watching your favourite anime series for the fourth time this week? Need something to fill your time and boredom in? Don't fret, I have the perfect something for you! In this blog post, I'll be reviewing a game, Arknights!


First and foremost, Arknights is a PVE (Player vs Enemies) gacha tower defense game where you use units you obtain in order to defeat enemies and clear levels for exciting and worthwhile rewards. I'll leave the official trailer here for you to watch (Definitely recommend to at least watch once, the music and trailer itself is really good!).


Arknights Official Trailer

If you're not familiar with the word gacha, it's the form of spending virtual currency for in-game items such as cosmetics, characters, items etc. In this game's case, it's operators that you mostly will want and will obtain. 

Of course, you can also spend real currency to exchange for virtual currency in order to get the items you want.

However, that is not to say that you cannot play this game without spending real currency. In fact, you can finish all story content in this game with the units you have, albeit with a little strategy. This is also one of the reasons why I like this game and why this is my first gacha game, it doesn't require you to spend real currency on the game, unlike other pay-to-win gacha games.


An example of a gacha roll in Arknights

Moving on, I'll now talk about what Arknights is really about. Like what I mentioned previously, it's a tower defense game where you defeat enemies with operators that you obtain. By completing these stages and levels, you get a reward that can be useful in either upgrading your operators themselves or your base, which we will get to later on.


Arknights Main Menu

At this point of time, Arknights has 5 main story chapters released for players to enjoy. These chapters consists of stages and levels for players to clear in order to advance in the main story. With animations and cutscenes to further emphasize on the story, Arknights has one of the most intriguing story for a mobile game thus far.


Arknights Main Story Content



Arknights Chapter Stages

Furthermore, completing these stages helps you unlock some of the other features this game has to offer such as resources stages and your own base. Below are such stages mentioned.

Firstly, there are 5 resources stages, namely the Tactical Drill, Tough Siege, Resource Search, Cargo Escort and Aerial Threat. Completing each of these stages rewards you with different items that can be used to further improve your gameplay such as leveling your operators and upgrading your base.


Resources Stages

The Tactical Drill stage rewards you with tickets to level your operators, the Tough siege stage rewards you with certificates to buy certain items in the shop that can't be bought anywhere else, the Resource Search rewards you with base materials to upgrade your base, the Cargo Escort Stage rewards you with in-game currency called Lungmen Dollars for leveling and upgrading expenses and lastly, the Aerial Threat stage rewards you with skill books to upgrade your operator's skills to further maximize their ability in stages. Don't worry if those descriptions are a bit lengthy, all in all, they're stages to further improve your gameplay.


An example of one of the resource stage, Tactical Drill

Not only that, there is another stage that is also quite important. The reason being is that it rewards you with in-game currency to roll for more operators to add in your squads. This resource is called Orundum and is only used for rolling for operators. However, unlike the other stages that are open for only 3 days a week, this stage is open 24/7. 


An example of the Annihilation stage

There is a catch however. You can only farm a maximum of around 1600 to 1900 Orundum per week. All in all, it is a good system set for the players so that they don't have to spend real currency to roll for operators but because of the weekly limit, players also can't abuse it. I have nothing but praises for the system they've implemented here.


Speaking of operators, there are two ways to obtain them. One is by spending in-game currency, Orundum to roll for them and the other way is to use recruitment permits to recruit said operators. What's the difference you ask? Well, the former uses the limited in-game currency, while the latter only uses recruitment permits which are easily obtainable through the in-game store or daily and weekly quests.


An example of the headhunting system


An example of the headhunting system

These are banners, where you roll for operators. New banners will have a condition where you will be guaranteed a 5 star or higher after 10 rolls, which is beneficial to players since those operators are generally harder to obtain.



Recruiting operators using recruitment permits


However, recruiting can take a long time depending on yourself. It also has a very low chance of awarding you with 5 or 6 star operator, which are some of the best operators in-game. However, in the event where you obtain an operator you already have, you're also rewarded with operator certificates.

What do you do with these certificates? Well, there are a number of ways to spend them. In the in-game store, you can exchange these certificates for valuable in-game materials such as leveling tickets, operator development materials, more recruitment permits. Even better, you can use them to buy headhunting tickets to roll for operators in the banners. However, these types of certificates are harder to obtain than the normal operator certificates.


The certificate store in Arknights

Now, we can get to the technical aspect of this game, the base. In the base, you can use resources to build facilities such as factories, power plants workshops etc. These facilities can help improve your gameplay in the long term with factories producing valuable materials such as leveling tickets and/or gold bars to exchange in the trading posts for Lungmen Dollars. You can also set up dorms for operators to rest after being stationed in said facilities. Moreover, the fun part is that you can interact with the operators in their 'chibi' form to get a reaction from them that are usually very cute and amusing.


An example of a base in Arknights


An example of the dorm, with operators resting in it

Now that we've gone over the game, let's talk about what I like and don't like in this game. 

First and foremost, what I like about this game is that there is so much to do in this game to the point where you will not get bored of it anytime soon. First, the main story stages. They're the bread and butter of this game and provide a lot of content for the players. Furthermore, there are the resources stages, which I already explained as well as the Annihilation stages.

Additionally, I previously mentioned that you can level your operators and did not explain much. There is so much more to operator development!


The operator menu which unlocks many possibilities

Here you can see one of my operators which I have nurtured and developed. In this menu, there is so much you can do to improve your character. The button on the top right allows you to level your character. The "Promotion" option allows you to Elite or upgrade your character's limits per se. The "Potential" option allows you to improve your character as you get more tokens or copies of the same character. The "Skill Upgrade" option explains for itself. Lastly, the "Trust" bar on the left side of the screen gradually fills up as you bring that operator into more battles and stages which in turn improves the operator's base stats.

All in all, there is so much more to do than just leveling your operators, which means that players, or Doctors as we call them in this game, has to do.

Another thing that really surprised me when I first played the game is the intuitive and beautiful UI/UX experience. UI/UX being user interface and user experience. The menu and controls in this game are beautifully simple and does not bring up any confusion over it's functions or anything. Also, since this was originally released in the Chinese region for a bit before releasing worldwide on IOS and Android devices, I expected there to be some localization issues. However, there almost close to none! And where there were some, the updates and fixes to the game are really fast and the developers even compensate players for said maintenance with sanity packs or even Orundum! 


Intricate and beautifully designed main menu

Now, I'll go over the only complain I have for this game so far. The sanity system. Before I mention anything, I have to say that I don't think what they have done is wrong, just that it can be improved. Right now, stages and levels requires sanity or in other terms, energy, to initiate. So if you don't have enough sanity, you can't complete any levels. Sanity recharges every 6 minutes or so. So to most players, you'd have to wait for your sanity to refill before you can attempt a stage.

However, there are more ways to refill your sanity rather than just waiting for it to refill passively. You can use sanity packs that I mentioned previously to refill your sanity for a certain amount or you can use your in-game premium currency, Originium, to refill your sanity. Don't be confused over Orundum and Originium. The former I already explained while the latter is basically currency you can get by paying real currency. This premium in-game currency can be used to refill sanity to your maximum capacity for each Originium or you can use it to exchange into Orundum for gacha currency.


Refilling sanity through Sanity Packs



Refilling Sanity through Originium

However, you can only refill your sanity with Originium 10 times a day, which means that once you used that 10 refills, you essentially can't play the game anymore until the next daily reset. This is my gripe with the sanity system. I hope that sanity can be regained faster while also removing the daily limit for sanity refills. Other than this issue I have, I have been having fun with the game so far.
Finally, I'll be giving my overall review as well as give my thoughts for who this game is for.

Arknights was the first ever gacha game I've ever played and I caught wind of it through scrolling through Twitter. Ever since then, I had anticipated its global release so that I could play it as soon as possible. When I first played the game, I expected to lose interest over 2 weeks since I never really got into mobile games. However, this game proved its worth with its intriguing and in-depth lore that got me hooked, and its surprisingly beautiful and well thought out design. To me, this game isn't just a game to fill my time, I genuinely enjoy every second of this game.

As for who this game is for, I'd say it's for everyone! With its easy access to most people as well as it being really easy to play, most people would find it enjoyable. If anything, I'd say the game isn't for you if you dislike gacha games which I don't think it's a valid reason for this game since it's PVE, not PVP. So there aren't any advantages or anything that you might find unfair.

And that's all for this review of the game Arknights! I do hope that you give this game a try in the future! Oh, I'll also put my friend code under so that anyone can add me in the game!



With that said, thank you for your time and do stay safe in these turbulent times!



Written by Kai Yuichi

BanG Dream! Girls Band Party x Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? Collaboration

Saturday, January 11, 2020 / No Comments
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka (Is the Order a Rabbit)--Gochiusa in short is one of my favourite slice-of-life/cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime. In fact, it might even be one of my top few. Once I heard that Bandori will collaborate with Gochiusa, I was beyond excited. Like, I was internally screaming. I was just that happy, aha. It's also just in time for the third season that will be coming up in 2020! 

This might be a slightly delayed post, but I still had to talk about it because I simply loved this end-of-year collaboration last year. 
The outfits, the 'Rabbit House' cafe in the background and Bandori's version of 'Tippy' on top of Rimi's hair, it's all nostalgic~

Just like the collaboration with Hatsune Miku back then, the Gochiusa collaboration took place for a period of time, and the cover songs/costumes have been released over a span of 3 consecutive days. The first day began with Poppin' Party, with their cover of 'Daydream Cafe', the OP for the first season of Gochiusa. 

They even featured the work outfits from Gochiusa with the Poppin'Party members in the game!
From left to right: Chiya, Cocoa, Chino, Rize, Sharo in their work outfits.

Of course, Kasumi's outfit resembles Cocoa's, as they both share the role of main leads. 
Tae wears Chiya's outfit in the game, and I thought it was fitting as well as Tae and Chiya share lovable, yet smug characteristics. 
And of course, Rimi is the best fit for the adorable Chino, along with her own version of Tippy on her head. 

On the other hand, Saya and Arisa's outfits didn't quite seem to match Sharo and Rize's personalities respectively. However, I guess that's the best that the game could do, and both Saya and Arisa looks really nice in their outfits, especially Saya's loose, flowing hair. 


The game interface also changed a little for a limited time. We see the 'Rabbit House', the cafe in Gochiusa in the background, along with an added tap sound effect that reminds me of rabbits hopping. Definitely fitting for the theme!

The second day continues with Hello, Happy World! The members' outfits are a combination of working outfits in Gochiusa--Kokoro with Cocoa's Rabbit House attire, Kaoru and Michelle with Aoyoma's bartender outfit, Kanon with Chiya's sweet shop attire and finally, Hagumi with Sharo's maid outfit. 


Aoyoma's bartender outfit. 
Chiya's sweet shop attire.
Sharo's maid outfit. 

Hello, Happy World! covered 'No Poi!', Gochiusa's OP for the second season. Kokoro's voice definitely suits this cover well. 


And of course, we receive the costumes as well.

The next and last one features Pastel*Palettes, dressed in Chino's middle school uniform. They also added their own original touch with it in the form of the frills representing each member's colours. 

With that said, the song cover is going to be none other than 'TokiMeki Poporon', the ED of Gochiusa's second season. 

This is my most anticipated cover, because the song is just too cute. Here's the original from Gochiusa just because it's THAT CUTE.


Here's my first try on the song! You really gotta hear it with the limited tapping sound effects, it's just too cute. (Oh, I would have used PasuPare members for this live, but I was too excited and forgot to change it so I played it with Afterglow, as there is also an ongoing Afterglow-based event in the game as well). 

Speaking of Afterglow, it would have been interesting to hear them cover a Gochiusa song, even though it's a little bit out of their rock-like style. Besides, fun fact: Cocoa's VA Sakura Ayane also voices Mitake Ran from Afterglow. 


And that's it for the Bandori x Gochiusa collaboration! It's definitely the best collab ever--melts my slice-of-life heart. Oh, just another thing to plug in, because it's the Christmas season, the game interface also changed to the Christmas interface! It's another thing to look forward to for this year's Christmas, though it might be a bit too early to talk about it... 


There's also an extra area in the game called the "Tsurumaki Party Hall", which is rather exquisite-looking. Seriously, how rich is Kokoro? There are extra interactions between the Bandori girls, especially between those who are rarely seen together which is quite interesting. 


Christmas and a lovely collab--It was definitely a wonderful time to be in the Bandori fandom. Hakanai~ 


Written by kimizomi



First glimpse – One Piece Pirate Warriors 4

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 / No Comments

Fans of the One Piece Pirate Warriors series get hyped up! The latest installment, One Piece Pirate Warriors 4, is set to be released in 2020. Luffy and crew are back on another exciting adventure, featuring a new cast of playable characters with similar gameplay to its predecessors along with some new changes which will be discussed. 


Game: One Piece Pirate Warriors 4
Genre: Musou
Developers: Omega Force; Koei Tecmo
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
To be released: 2020
Platforms: PS 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows

FAQ:
What are Musou games?
For those who have never played or are unaware of what exactly the term Musou means, it is basically a game genre. Musou games, developed by Omega Force and Koei Tecmo are actually just your typical Hack and Slash games. The gameplay is straightforward and simplistic, you complete missions and slash your way through a horde of cannon fodder. Completing missions usually by slaying enemy commanders allow you to advance to the next stage of the game. Koei’s Warriors franchise which includes Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi are highly popular Musou games. 


One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 first look

Whole Cake Island Arc Trailer



Wano Country Arc Trailer



Gameplay



General gameplay to give you some insight into Pirate Warriors
(First 12mins in English, the rest in Japanese but showcases Zoro, Kuzan and Ichiji)

One Piece Pirate Warriors is a Musou game with the story based on One Piece. This game requires plenty of button mashing during combat. Clear the missions given to you in order to progress the story and game. The story in Pirate Warriors 4 is based on the Whole Cake Island Arc in the manga. The Wano Country Arc is also available in the game but it is based on an original story written by the developers because the Wano Country Arc is still currently ongoing in the manga. 


Movesets

By mashing a combination of buttons, you can use different moves on enemies. Be creative and adapt to the situation. For example, some moves are more optimal on a huge wave of enemies while others are better suited for obliterating single targets. A good tip will be to chain your movesets to unleash a combination attack in order to maximise your damage output per second.



Some of the characters movesets


Additional movesets on most returning characters have been added. Most notably, Luffy is now able to get into his Gear Fourth state which gives him new moves. Having a larger variety of moves means more combos and enjoyment. You are also able to use special attacks like the previous versions of the game as long as you charge the special attack gauge by damaging enemies.


Playable Characters

Here is the list of some of the known playable characters at the moment. Do note that you can expect the list to be longer than this but the full roster has not been announced. This list is subjected to change. 


1. Monkey D. Luffy


2. Roronoa Zoro


3. Vinsmoke Sanji


4. Carrot

5. Kuzan


6. Sabo


7. Jinbei


8. Vinsmoke siblings

Front row (left to right): Reiju, Ichiji, Yonji, Niji

Notable changes

One significant change in Pirate Warriors 4 compared to Pirate Warriors 3 is the ability for your characters to jump. This is a very crucial change because it opens up the possibility of aerial combat. You are able to use your moves in mid-air by jumping and this might grant you invincibility against non-aerial enemy units. Pirate Warriors 3 also had aerial combat for very few characters such as Marco (phoenix form) and Kizaru. In Pirate Warriors 3, I vividly remember that the cannon fodders were not able to damage Marco and Kizaru while they were in mid-air. Now that all characters can jump in Pirate Warriors 4, you can imagine the limitless potential that you can take advantage of.


Additional movesets for returning characters is also a notable change in Pirate Warriors 4 which had been mentioned above earlier in the movesets section. 



Luffy vs Titan Big Mom and Titan X Drake

Titan Mode has been added in Pirate Warriors 4. When Titan Mode is active, enemies become larger in size and deal more damage as well. This requires you to plan your moves strategically and poses a greater level of difficulty, making the game much more challenging. The difficulty levels of Pirate Warriors 4 has not been announced yet but if it follows Pirate Warriors 3, then the highest difficulty setting should be “Super Hard”. There is nightmare log in Pirate Warriors 3 where the enemies are powered up to the point where you can easily get defeated. My guess is that Titan Mode in Pirate Warriors 4 is the equivalent of nightmare log but there may be a possibility that nightmare log will return to pose as a challenge to players again. 

Final Notes

The information available on One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is still limited and there may be changes in the game content when it is released in 2020. This article is written with the aim of providing a first look at the game. Pirate Warriors 4 seems promising already and I believe it will be a phenomenal game that fans of One Piece can look forward to.  

Written by Kou








The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

Friday, August 9, 2019 / No Comments

The Trails of Cold Steel series had finally reached its conclusion with the release of the fourth and final installment, Trails of Cold Steel IV – The End of Saga. Trails of Cold Steel IV was released in Japan for the PlayStation 4 on 27 September 2018. With the highly anticipated completion of this game, I figured it would be a good time to write a review of this amazing series.






I was first introduced to Trails of Cold Steel back in 2017 through a close gamer friend. He mentioned that this is his favourite turn-based JRPG of all time and highly recommended me to give it a shot. Prior to this, I had never played a turn-based Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) before and was excited to try it out. That proved to be one of the best decisions I had ever made. The Trails of Cold Steel series tells an enchanting story, has beautiful graphics, great music and a turn-based system that is loads of fun. Without a shred of doubt, Trails of Cold Steel is my favourite JRPG and Tokyo Xanadu is a close second.





Game: Trails of Cold Steel (CS) series
Genre: Turn-based JRPG
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Year Released in Japan: CS I (2013), CS II (2014), CS III (2017), CS IV (2018)
Platforms: CS I & II – PS 3, PS 4, PS Vita, Microsoft Windows
                 CS III & IV – PS 4 exclusive
Difficulty levels you can choose from: Easy, Normal, Hard, Nightmare


The Trails of Cold Steel series is developed by Nihon Falcom, the company which developed many notable RPGs such as the Ys Series, Legend of Heroes series and Tokyo Xanadu. The amount of effort that Nihon Falcom put into the Trails of Cold Steel series is more than just praiseworthy. There is so much content that you can easily get over 100 hours of gameplay in each version of Trails of Cold Steel.


*FAQ: 

Do I need to play the Trails of Cold Steel series in ascending order from I to IV?


- Preferably Yes. The story is a continuation from where it last left off, hence you might not understand certain events if you skipped one version. It is highly recommended you start with Trails of Cold Steel I and play the series in ascending order.


What difficulty should I start with?



- For the first playthrough, it is recommended that you start with normal. After you have beat the game once, it is recommended you play on nightmare because you can carry over your levels, equipment and orbments.


Trails of Cold Steel I Opening 




Trails of Cold Steel II Opening



Trails of Cold Steel III Opening



Trails of Cold Steel IV Opening





Plot Summary:



*Note: There is way too much content in the plot and this is only a very brief overview of the entire Cold Steel Saga. There are some minor spoilers ahead. You will need to play the game yourself to experience the interconnected events which build up into one of the best stories in a JRPG. 


The story is set in the Erebonian Empire and details the adventure of Rean Schwarzer, who has just enrolled in Thors Military Academy. Rean is placed into class VII, a newly formed class still in its testing phase. Previously, Thors only had 5 classes, 2 of which consisted of only nobles while the remaining 3 consisted of only commoners. There was a clear distinction and segregation of social class. Class VII is the only class with both nobles and commoners. 


Class VII members: Character design in Trails of Cold Steel II


In Trails of Cold Steel I and II, the members of class VII go on field trips and expeditions around the empire as part of their learning journey. They get caught up in many sticky situations such as civil wars and enemies who threaten the peace of Erebonia. Class VII graduates at the end of Trails of Cold Steel II. 


Original class VII members: Character design in Trails of Cold Steel III


New class VII members and Rean in Trails of Cold Steel III


Character Design in Trails of Cold Steel IV


In Trails of Cold Steel III and IV, the members of Class VII go their separate ways after graduation. Most notably, Rean becomes an instructor (teacher) of the new class VII. Rean will also encounter his former class VII classmates again, teaming up with them to tackle dangerous situations as the events continue to unfold. 



Class VII Characters:


*Note: There are way too many characters in the game to list, as such I will only be highlighting the class VII members. 



Rean Schwarzer




The main protagonist in the Trails of Cold Steel series. A kind, helpful and reliable character who calmly assesses situations and gives appropriate commands to his comrades. Rean is well-liked by his classmates and is regarded as their leader. He is the adopted son of Baron Schwarzer and technically considered a noble. Rean wields a longsword known as a tachi in battle and had trained in the Eight Leaves One Blade style of swordsmanship. He is also the Awakener of the Divine Knight known as Valimar, a mechanical combat knight that holds significant importance due to mecha battles in certain parts of the game. Rean became known as the Ashen Chevalier in Trails of Cold Steel II, the hero who ended the Erebonian Civil War. He eventually becomes an instructor of the new class VII upon graduation.


Pro Tip:

You should build Rean as either a turn delayer (preferably) or a damage dealer. 


Alisa Reinford 




Alisa is the daughter of the Reinford Group’s president and eventually takes over as its successor. The Reinford Group is the largest heavy industry company in Erebonia and produces weapons, vehicles and orbments. Alisa wields an orbal bow in battle. 



Pro Tip:
You should build Alisa as a healer or supporter.



Laura Arseid




Laura is the daughter of Victor Arseid, the Viscount of Legram. Victor Arseid is known as the Radiant Blademaster and is widely regarded as one of the best swordsmen in the Erebonian empire. Laura is exceptionally skilled with the sword as well, having trained from a young age. Laura wields a great sword in battle with great ease. 


Pro Tip:
You should build Laura as a damage dealer. 


Fie Claussell




Fie was part of an elite mercenary group known as Zephyr before enrolling in Thors Academy. She is swift, agile and has plenty of combat experience. Fie wields twin gunswords in battle. 


Pro Tip:
You should build Fie as an evasion tank due to her high speed and base avoidability. 


Gauis Worzel





Gauis is a foreign exchange student from the Nordic Highlands. He is exceptionally adept in horseback riding and has an affinity with wildlife. Gauis wields a cross spear in battle. 




Pro Tip:

You should build Gauis as an evasion tank.


Emma Millstein




Emma is soft spoken, helpful and a great spellcaster, my favourite character in class VII. Emma is the class president of class VII and enrolled in Thors on a scholarship, scoring the highest in terms of academics. She is part of the witch clan known as the Hexen Clan. Emma wields an orbal staff in battle. 


Pro Tip:
You should build Emma as a mage/spellcaster due to her high base Energy Points (EP). 


Elliot Craig




Elliot is the first classmate and friend that Rean met at the school orientation, quickly becoming close friends. He is a great musician who plays the violin. Elliot’s father is Olaf Craig, also known as Craig the Red, who is a lieutenant general and 4th Division Commander of the Imperial Army. Elliot wields an orbal staff in battle. 


Pro Tip:
You should build Elliot as a mage/spellcaster due to his high base EP. 


Millium Orion




A cheerful and energetic girl who was the last member to join class VII. Millium first joined class VII in Trails of Cold Steel I after one of class VII’s field trips. She is a spy for the Imperial Army’s intelligence division. Millium wields a puppet called Airgetlam in battle which she nicknamed Lammy.


Pro Tip:
You should build Millium as a damage dealer. 


Jusis Albarea




Jusis is the son of Duke Albarea from the Albarea house, one of the four great noble houses in Erebonia. Jusis enrolled in Thors in order to escape from the pressures associated with his noble lineage. He is always at loggerheads with Machias at the start of the series. Jusis wields a knight sword in battle and uses the court fencing technique.


Pro Tip:
You can build Jusis in many ways and it is entirely up to you. I prefer to build him as a tanky support due to his high defences and buff skills.


Machias Regnitz




Machias is the vice class president of Class VII and very studious, often competing with Emma in terms of grades. Machias is the son of the imperial governor Carl Regnitz, a commoner who worked his way up to his position. As such Machias grew up as and is technically a commoner which is the reason he bears a grudge against nobles and their attitudes towards commoners. Machias wields an orbal shotgun in battle. 


Pro tip:
Similar to Jusis, you can build Machias in any way you like. I build him as a support because he has an ability to let the fastest member of your team have another turn.




Gameplay



1.1 Turn-Based System


The gameplay of the Trails of Cold Steel series mainly revolves around this system. You will be encountering plenty of monsters throughout the game and will engage in a turn-based battle with them. The turn-based battle begins when your character touches the monster. Upon encountering a monster, always sneak up behind them and attack them before touching because this will give you turn advantages. You can do a sneak attack up to a maximum of 3 times to gain a triple advantage. Sneak attacks are crucial before commencing battle because they give you extra turns against the monsters. Do note that you are unable to use sneak attacks on certain large monsters and all bosses. 




The turn order is displayed on the left-hand side of the screen. As depicted in the picture above, Fie goes first, followed by Rean, Jusis and Emma. The turn order is dependent on your characters speed, the faster the character the higher their turn order. With reference to the picture above, if you did not do the sneak attack, the monsters will have its turn to attack you after Emma. But with the single/double/triple (depending on how many times you sneak attacked) advantage you gained, you will have additional turns before the monsters get their turn. 



1.2 Pre-setting formation/positioning 






Before starting battles, it is important that you pre-set your team formation in the tactics section of the in-game Menu as shown above. This is especially essential for boss battles because having a bad formation can easily lead to your entire team being wiped out. You will usually have 4 members in your party most of the time in Trails of Cold Steel. However, there are times where you may have less or more depending on specific parts of the game. 


Pro Tip:

You should always try to bring one evasion tank (Fie/Gauis), one or two damage dealers (Rean/Laura/Millium), one mage (Emma/Elliot) and an optional support (Alisa) in your party if you can. You will be able to select your party members most of the time in the game, again depending on specific parts of the game. Formation wise, set the evasion tanks to the front, damage dealers in the middle and lastly the mage or support at the back. 



1.3 What you can do during your turn (important)




This section details the 6 possible moves you can do during your turn in actual combat as shown above. Before we discuss the moves, do take note of the yellow Health Points (HP) bar, blue Energy Points (EP) bar and green Craft Points (CP) bar of each member above. When the HP bar of a member reaches 0, that member faints and is unable to continue the battle. When all members in your party faints, it is game over and you need to reload your last saved file, therefore it is very important to save the game regularly especially before boss battles. 


Here are the 6 possible moves you can do during your turn:

  • Attack – This is just a basic or normal attack common in RPGs. Attacking deals damage to the monster and increases your CP. Note that each member has a max CP of 200. 

  • Crafts – This is your character’s skills, it consumes a certain amount of CP. There are both damaging and supportive crafts. To unlock more crafts, you need to level your character through having the character in your party and defeating monsters to gain experience points.

  • Arts – This is your character’s spells that are gained through the orbment system. Arts consumes a certain amount of EP. There are also both damaging and supportive arts. Arts are mainly used by mages such as Emma and Elliot because they have high base EP. 

  • Move – Move to another location, basically skipping that member’s turn. Useful if you need to increase the CP of a member in your party by skipping another member’s turn in order to attack and restore some CP. 

  • Run – Flee from battle. You can only escape the battle with a certain % chance. If you are unsuccessful, you can try escaping again. Each failed attempt at escaping raises the escape chance by 10%. You cannot run during boss battles.

  • Item – Use an item on any member in your party. There are many items in the game such as damage boosters, CP and EP restores. You can also revive members who fainted. Items can be bought from shops or found in treasure chests in the game.



1.4 Ultimate ability (S-Craft)




There is a seventh move you can use in battle that was not discussed in the above section. This seventh move is your ultimate ability known in the Trails of Cold Steel Series as S-Craft. Each member in your party has their own unique S-Crafts which are usually very cool and flashy. Shown above is Rean’s S-Craft from Trails of Cold Steel II. You can only use a member’s S-Craft when that member’s CP bar is at least 100. The higher the CP the more damage the S-Craft will deal. Therefore, a good tip would be to have 200 CP on party members before boss fights so that you can unleash immense damage on them. Do not waste your S-Craft on cannon fodder monsters, use basic attacks or crafts and arts instead. 



1.5 Some of the bosses in the series


The blazing demon McBurn



Final boss in Trails of Cold Steel I, Loa


Final boss in Trails of Cold Steel III, Zoro-Agruga



1.6 Mecha Battles


Rean and the Divine Knight - Valimar




As mentioned earlier, Rean is the Awakener of the Divine Knight Valimar. During certain parts of the game there will be mecha battles where you play as Valimar. You can also use skills or normal basic attacks each turn. 



2. Quests (Known as tasks in Trails of Cold Steel series)




There are two kinds of quests in the Trails of Cold Steel series. In each chapter, there will be required quests and optional hidden quests. Required quests must be completed in order to progress the game but hidden quests do not. Each quest is unique and can involve doing a wide range of activities such as killing certain monsters or simply talking to certain characters.




After the end of each chapter, you will receive AP for all the quests you completed. In order to earn an S Grade, you will usually need to complete the hidden quests as well. You should always try to complete the hidden quests if you can. But if you are just a casual player not aiming for trophies then it is not necessary. 



3. Bonding Events




In each chapter, there will usually be bonding events. You are given a limited amount of bonding points each chapter. Choose the characters you want to bond with carefully. After selecting a character to bond with, a short event scene will play out. Bonding events raise the link levels of the characters you chose. All the female characters you can bond with are potential love interests of Rean. Therefore, always bond with your best girl or characters with link levels you want to raise.


*Note: Depending on who you choose to bond with, certain story dialogues in the game may pan out differently. 





4. Fishing




You are also able to fish in the Trails of Cold Steel series. From Trails of Cold Steel I to IV, there are many different varieties of fishes to catch. You can earn valuable items from fishing as well.




You are able to catch the boss fish after you have caught all the other species. Once you have caught all the species of fish including the boss fish, you will earn a fishing trophy. 



5. Mini Games


There are different mini games in each version of Trails of Cold Steel. The mini games are really lots of fun and a good break from the main gameplay.


Trails of Cold Steel I – Blade card game




Trails of Cold Steel II – Blade card game, Snowboarding




Trails of Cold Steel III – Vantage Masters card game




Trails of Cold Steel IV – Vantage Masters card game, Poker & Blackjack, POMtto!, Horror Coaster


POMtto!



Pros (+) of Trails of Cold Steel:


  • Well written story with good build-up of events leading to the climax.
  • A huge amount of game content to enjoy.
  • Excellent graphics and music/soundtrack.
  • Great turn based system with the ability to position characters before battle.
  • Requires you to plan your moves strategically in battle.
  • Versatility in character builds due to the orbment system.
  • Fancy S-Craft (Ultimate) abilities.
  • Mini games that make the game more vibrant.



Cons (-) of Trails of Cold Steel:


  • Lots of dialogue.
  • The story is heavy on politics. If you do not like fictional politics then it would be best to skip this game. 
  • Needs more than one playthrough to get the platinum trophy or to fight optional boss. Only perfectionists will need to beat the game at least twice. If you are a casual player, this will not be an issue.






Overall Rating: 5/5


Ever since I started playing Trails of Cold Steel, I became a fan of turn-based RPGs. I have played other turn-based games such as Summon Night 6 and Cosmic Star Heroine but none of them come close to Trails of Cold Steel. The Trails of Cold Steel series is a long ride but once you start Trails of Cold Steel I, you will definitely be hooked into completing the entire series. The enthralling story and turn-based system in the Trails of Cold Steel series is top tier. Give this series a try, I guarantee you will have an enjoyable experience!


Written by Kou