This week has been a heavy Trails of Cold Steel week with both the Game and Character Spotlights being given to this great JRPG. So I really wanted to do a Top 10 with the game as well, but I already have the anime hair Top 10s in full swing.
Then my dumb ass realized…I can just release two Top 10s this week! What a novel idea!
So here it is, folks. The Top 10 girls from Trails of Cold Steel! But this isn’t just going to be based on who’s the hottest, this list is devoted to which girls I liked the most in terms of looks, personality and their overall usefulness in the game.
Now! Let’s hop to it, shall we?
Kicking off our list is the super bouncy 13 year-old “White Rabbit”, aka a secret agent and member of Ironblood, Millium Orion. While her voice actress didn’t exactly sell the whole 13 years young part of Millium, she’s still a fun girl throughout the game, usually home to a lot of the comic relief where she nearly destroys everything with her puppet, Airgetlam or “Lammy”. She’s a tough little one, certainly capable of being a threat on the battlefield and yet meanwhile can balance being a bit of a dunce cap. It’s a strange mixture, one that kind of holds her back on this list. But she’s still an enjoyable girl at times.
The “Icy Maiden” of the Railway Military Police, Claire is a fantastic badass character in the game and a character I can’t wait to see more of (and I assume I’ll be fighting alongside) in the second game. She easily pulls off double-duty in the first game by being the tough as nails, one step ahead of everyone else commanding officer of the RMP and yet in the few moments we get of her outside of that, she’s a very calm, gentle woman who is just looking out for people she cares about. Can’t wait to see a lot more of her during the second game, so I can get a lot more of her personality out into the open.
Absolutely stunning, but I have Alfin on this list strictly because it is absolutely hilarious to me watching this girl who’s supposed to be an elegant, perfect princess, go and completely fuck with Rean’s sister Elise, because she knows that Elise totally has the hots for her adopted brother (Rean and Elise aren’t related by blood), so she spends every moment possible teasing her about him, which sends Elise into a mad blush. And it’s hilarious every time. I hope in the second game I get to see a lot more of her as well.
The lowest on this list out of the original Class VII girls, Alisa’s actually not that bad, but she suffers from a very bad first impression. She really comes off as a real bratty bitch in the early-going of the game, but eventually shifts to a tolerable bratty bitch who has skills that I would be dead if it wasn’t for her. There’s no denying the girl is very pretty as well, she’s certainly in the most situations pertaining to a potential relationship with Rean (not that I cared), but again a bad first impression for who’s one of the more useful party members.
I love Angelica. Everything that came out of her mouth was gold. We’re always so used to male characters who are super perverted, but Angelica trumps them all, having zero issue flirting with girls in front of everyone, talking about girls in front of everyone and honestly if she wasn’t a noble, I feel like she’d be going around just groping girls whenever she could. Also, she’s always in a badass leather biking suit (except at the very end, where it’s really weird to see her in a dress) and has an Orbal motorcycle! She’s so freaking badass! I really hope she’s a party member in the second game. The banter, I want more of that banter!
Sometimes girls just wanna have fun. Sara is no exception to this fact. She’s the homeroom teacher for Class VII, yet possibly one of the most powerful fighters in the entire game, as we hear throughout the first game, given the moniker of “Purple Lightning”. An ex-Bracer, Sara is constantly shown as the girl you don’t wanna mess with on the battlefield, but outside of that she’s probably the coolest person in the entire game, especially when she’s had a couple drinks. How a fun-loving, prankster like herself ends up being one of the most dangerous characters in the game is a feat in itself and then she also ends up being one of the hottest girls in the game too. Quite the resume, Miss Valestine.
Out of all the girls in the game, Laura’s the one I used the most in battle. She’s an absolute powerhouse, the character I relied on to do the most damage and boy did she ever when I needed her to. But aside from her battle prowess, she also gets a huge unfair advantage being the girl you see the most out of her uniform, the lone party member to be a part of the Swim Club at Thors Military Academy. Her personality is hit and miss, sometimes she works really well as a more reserved girl, but other times she comes off a little too serious for my liking. Either way, a girl as beautiful as her and as high-damage as she can be in battle, she’s still a fantastic character.
I love Emma, but man oh man does it drive me insane that after spending 100+ hours in the first game, I’m still totally unsure as to who this girl actually is, as we don’t know her origins or really what part of her personality is real and what’s more of an act. As we’re left to wonder in the game, she may actually not be a normal student, perhaps placed into Class VII to watch over Rean, as she (and her cat friend, Celine) seem to know a lot more about Rean’s hidden power and other magical phenomena than anyone else seems to know. But aside from that, what we do get from her is a very intelligent mage who I relied upon heavily when I didn’t have my core healer in Eliot available, though Emma is much better on the offensive side of magic anyways, though I wish she’d had a little more healing potential as well. And out of all the girls, Emma is easily the hottest of them all, including the adults. And no, it’s not just because of her chest, I love her hairstyle and I do find intelligence sexy, so the glasses are a nice addition too. Hopefully in game #2 we get a lot more information on this girl, which it’d be stupid if there was nothing new about her added in.
I think it’s safe to say after reading tons of forum posts about the game, Towa’s the #1 choice as a waifu-level of girl in the first Trails of Cold Steel game. She’s absolutely adorable, extremely intelligent and very responsible as the Academy’s student council president. She’s so good at her job that in the game at the age of 18, she’s being pulled from the school into the big city to help out political officials with various things. She’s super dependable, which makes it very easy to accept a few tasks from her as sidequests in the game, you don’t feel you’re doing her work for her, you feel like you’re taking a few minuscule tasks off he plate because even she can’t get them all done in the period of time she has. All that’s left now is to see what this sweetheart can really do in the battlefield, which I imagine we will see in the second game.
If I didn’t select my choice at the campfire dance in the #1 spot, I wouldn’t be doing this list properly. I love Fie so goddamn much, she was a fantastic party member, my second damage dealer who when paired with Laura made me unstoppable, she’s tiny and adorable, especially when I put the cat ears and tail on her halfway through the game, the best decision I ever made, it worked perfectly! My favourite thing about her is the silly face she makes when holding up the peace sign with Rean when they win a battle through a linked attack, she’s so freaking cute! And then she also checks that major checkbox I have with female characters with her generally expressionless speaking. I can’t help it, I love tiny girls and Fie is such a fantastic character that falls into this category, easily the girl I choice to have a terrible slow dance with at the tail end of the game. Can’t wait to have her back in my party, looking badass in her non-uniform getup.
Thanks for checking out this extra Top 10, folks! If you haven’t played the game before, I highly suggest you do. And if you’re further interested in the games, also check out my Game Spotlight and Character Spotlight relating to the game!
Generally speaking the lead character of JRPGs, especially when they’re male, they’re not exactly the brightest or the most interesting. They’re usually made to either be very bland so every player can associate themselves with him, or they’re designed to be way over-the-top, whether they’re super broody, super happy, or just super strong and tough.
Rean from Trails of Cold Steel doesn’t really fall into any of those categories. Yes, he’s skilled, friendly and a bit oblivious to when girls have feelings for him, but he is what most MCs are not: an actual leader.
Rean is the adopted son of a lower-tier Baron of the town of Ymir. At this point it’s unknown who his biological family is and what happened to them, but he is a Schwarzer now through his adopted family and gained nobility based on this. However when first asked if he’s a noble or not, he says he’s not, as he honestly doesn’t view himself as a part of that culture and realistically isn’t actually of noble blood. Because of his adoption though, his adopted family was ostracized by the rest of the nobility due to them essentially adopting a commoner, though it’s still very possible he is of noble blood, we just don’t know.
Throughout the game, in particular the beginning, we see that Rean isn’t your typical main character of a JRPG. He establishes himself early on as someone who should be respected amongst his peers and more than capable of leading the party. After solving (sort of) the constant fighting between party members Jusis and Machias, the rest of the group begins to depend on him (or use him depending on how you see it) when it comes to similar issues, such as Laura and Fie’s quarrels, or the many monthly requests the student council gives him when no one else volunteers to help. Rean is so dependable that he’s essentially getting tasks and problems almost literally thrown at him because he’s the most capable of doing so.
In battle, there’s definitely far more about him that we’re not privy to. He claims right from the very start he learned just the basics of the Eight Leaf Sword Style, yet he is one of the most capable fighters of the entire Class VII roster, including Laura and Fie who are juggernauts on the battle field. He also appears to have an unknown power within him that he uses twice the entire game which turns him into a white-haired, red-eyed powerhouse that he fears using for risk of it consuming him. However, by the end of the first game we know nothing about what this power is, where it came from and why he has it. We’re left to assume it has something to do with why he was found alone when he was adopted by the Schwarzer family.
Lastly, unlike most male protagonists in a game where many lovely ladies exist (and believe me, there are a lot of them), Rean actually attempts to not fall into the usual trope of getting caught in situations where he would have to get a slap across the face, though he can’t avoid one of them, no matter how well he plays the situation (as pictured above). He tries his best when saving Alisa from a drop and she lands on top of him, he keeps his hands up where everyone can see them, but it doesn’t really matter, she landed breast-first on his face, there’s nothing he can do now, he’s screwed in Alisa’s eyes regardless. But it’s nice that over the course of the game, he doesn’t find himself in the girls’ changeroom, he’s not somehow in their hot spring when they all come out and he’s not walking in on any of the girls in their underwear. He still is a bit clueless with any of the girls expressing their feelings towards him (in particular Alisa and Elise, his adopted sister), but all in all, he’s designed to be a normal guy who has fighting ability and is a strong leader.
I’m not saying he’s the most amazing main character in JRPG history, but it’s refreshing to play through a game with a lead character that isn’t cringe-worthy or isn’t some dipshit, emotionless and usually voiceless MC that a lot of JRPGs tend to have. Rean is genuinely interesting and given that there’s two more games left before his story ends, I’m very interested to see where his journey goes.
I’ve been in desperate need of a good JRPG for a while now. Final Fantasy hasn’t been that great the past 5 years and XV isn’t ’till September, Persona 5 is still six months or so away and let’s be honest, unless the series is a big franchise, most JRPGs nowadays are basically shitty anime visual novels that have a scraped together RPG system in it.
Now I’ve heard of the Legend of Heroes series, in particular the Trails in the Sky series that has gotten a lot of media attention because of the long time it took to translate the first two games into English and getting onto Steam to rave reviews, though I’ve yet to play them. But I saw Trails of Cold Steel on sale for PS Vita and I haven’t used my PS TV since getting Persona 4 Golden, so I figured why not.
Holy shit was that a fantastic decision!
Right off the bat, I absolutely adore the setting choice. It’s like if you took your basic high school anime and added a steampunk element into it, churning out a world where guns and swords can exist together AND you can still go to school with girls in short skirts. Though what I do appreciate is that the game does a very good job of barely sexualizing any of the girls, there’s no way to get even a glimpse of panties at any point in the game, the best you’re going to get is the odd time you’ll see the girls (other than Laura who’s consistent in this) wearing a standard one-piece race swimsuit and the one-time only hot spring moment. There’s no beach scene where the girls pull out their skimpy bikinis, there’s no catching the girls undressing, none of that exists here.
Even the main character has self-awareness and control when one possible ecchi moment takes place:
The plot of the game is simple to start with, you’re a new student attending Thors Military Academy, one of the best institutions in the nation. You’re also one of nine students out of the entire first-year program to be put into a special “Class VII” (even though there’s no Class VI) and that’s where the interest of the game really comes in. This world has the old class system in terms of nobility and the working-class. Classes are separated into their systems, two classes are all nobles, the other three are all lower-class students. However, Class VII is a mixture of both, about half and half depending on where you place a couple characters, but there are three definite nobles in Laura, Jusis and Alisa, while Rean and Machias can kind of go between both sides. It’s a very realistic representation of a worst-case scenario in terms of the upper and lower classes, where there is clearly friction between both sides, the nobles being a bunch of snobby dickheads and the lower class being a bunch of bitter fucks. Though given what the nobles do over the course of the game, I give the lower class a lot more leeway.
Another thing about the plot that shocked me with how well it’s portrayed is in its political undertones. The struggles of a potential war starting, along with various factions fighting for power (aka the nobles being quite pushy) is not only displayed prominently over the course of the game, but displayed with realistic storylines, twists and hidden objectives that don’t insult your intelligence. Normally stuff like this would bore me because when it’s done terribly, it can be extremely tedious. But in Trails of Cold Steel, everything that happens of a political standpoint is done to perfection, you believe it’s plausible and the story is written around it in a way where it genuinely affects the plot and your party constantly, to the point you have to pay attention and can be very interested in it. It’s not some tedious storyline to read into, it’s actually very engaging and interesting the whole way through.
The battle system is pretty polished as well. There are three basic attacks, your normal ‘Attack’ option, ‘Arts’ which are essentially magic spells and ‘Skills’ which are just more powerful weapon attacks. However, while Arts have their own EP bar, your Skills are tied to the CP bar which is also responsible for your special attacks, which you need at least 100 to perform, while having 200 makes the attack extremely powerful. So it becomes a strategic setup for you in how you use each party member. There are of course ways to regenerate CP (Rean and Alisa are good for that, not to mention the Impassion Art), but generally speaking if you want your special attacks ready, you best take it easy with using Skills.
What can be a little frustrating is how the game pretty much never lets you fully select your party until the very end of the game. Throughout the story, your class is cut in half to go on separate assignments related to this special class of theirs. And you have no control over who joins Rean (yourself) on these assignments, so you’re forced to make new parties every chapter. That can suck, especially if you have a party you really like, especially certain members, Eliot is a great healer and Laura’s a powerhouse, so whenever I lost one or both for a whole chapter, I was not a happy camper.
The game really shines though with its cast of characters and not even just limited to your party members. The main nine all have something to offer, some more than others depending on what you’re into and what you can’t stand. I think out of the main cast, Jusis and Machias are really the only two weak characters, relegated to the role of the two boys that can’t stop fighting. Out of all the girls, Alisa is probably the worst, just due to her bratty attitude that she displays especially during the first couple chapters. But in terms of the main cast, there’s a ton of great characters to work with. Rean’s a fantastic MC and not just the usual dumbass guy who’s somehow capable of defending everyone. While the story happens around Rean, he actually figures stuff out instead of waiting for everything to reveal itself to him. Then you’ve got characters like Fie, who’s an adorable badass, Laura who’s an elegant powerhouse, Eliot who’s a general’s son, but very pacifistic and Emma who’s far more mysterious than you could ever know. But other side characters like Towa, the adorable student council president and Angelica, who may be my favourite character ever in a JRPG because she’s essentially the most perverted lesbian I’ve ever seen, they add to an already diverse and interesting cast.
The only thing I can really complain about with the game is the end of this first of three in the series. I won’t spoil it outright, but for those who have played and finished the game, they’ll know what I mean when I say this.
The game does a fantastic job for the first 90% of the game, creating a world where the class system and politics roam as the dominant factors. Yes, there is another faction working against everyone during all this, but they’re kind of the side plot that acts as the game’s villains within the political standoff that is what I perceive as the main plot of the game. By the time all the loose ends seem to be tied up, the game suddenly changes its script completely and becomes something completely different to what you’ve worked towards the entire (for me) 100+ hours played. It’s like they decided to start a new game within this game and not give the player any warning about it. So by the very end of the show, not only has the entire complexity of the series changed, you’re forced to leave it all behind and watch an ending that really comes off like an Empire Strikes Back type of ending and it’s the kind of ending that I don’t think makes sense as the end of a first game. I mean, it makes the second game (which will be out sometime this fall in North America) really interesting, but I left the first game a little ticked off, feeling like I put in the work only to get fucked at the very end. It’s disappointing.
But out of any JRPG that I have played since Persona 4, this is without a shadow of a doubt the best one I’ve played since the PlayStation 2 era. Trails of Cold Steel made me believe that JRPGs are still alive and well and with Final Fantasy XV and Persona 5 coming soon, not to mention I Am Setsuna already out and on my to-play list AND I’ve just started Tokyo Mirage Sessions as I’m typing this…I’m excited for JRPGs again! Because games like Omega Quintet and the many Final Fantasy XIII games, they turned me off of them for a while.
Trails of Cold Steel managed to win my JRPG heart back and they did it without being super ecchi and with the addition of politics of all things! That’s saying something! Play that game if you can, you will not regret it!