Game Review – Legend of Heroes ~ Sen no Kiseki(PS3/PS Vita)

sennokiseki (192)Legend of Heroes is one of the greatest series of JRPGs nowadays and it normally divides its story arcs into two games. Sen no Kiseki is the first part of this new tale, and along with it, brings many questions: Will the gameplay be different from previous Legend of Heroes? Will the new heroes be as charismatic as the previous ones? Will this game have good graphics as the first in the series to be full 3D? Will it be an Eroge? The answer for the last one is “Yes”!

sennokiseki14sennokiseki00

At first I was all around at comparing this game to Final Fantasy Type-0, as it had the same basic plot: “A war happens between the forces of good – who uses magic – and the forces of evil – who use machines. To help in the war, a group of elite students is formed in a military school to use a new type of equipment that will be their trump card in the war. Different from the normal students, they use red uniforms and participate in dangerous missions, even though they are just children”.sennokiseki12Yes! It is very similar superficially but, by actually playing the game, I lost this impression almost completely when noticing that this game was basically a “Love Simulation” with some battle parts, in other words: A Galge!sennokiseki (24)As mentioned above, this game stars Rean Schwarzer as he is sent to Trista to study at Thors Military Academy. It’s when an accident brings his first meeting with one of his future classmates.

sennokiseki (28)sennokiseki (29)After the opening ceremony, they are brought to an old building in the school grounds, there they meet Sara Valestin who will be their new instructor. Suddenly, Sara decides to open a pitfall to throw them into a dangerous underground section full of monsters, only so she could test her new student’s abilities (she could have asked, right?). They all fall unharmed, except for Rean…

sennokiseki (32)sennokiseki (33)This is where it gets clear that this game atmosphere, plot and characters have a huge difference from its predecessors. Everything in this game is presented as if it was a Galge, starting by its main characters: They are all stereotypes commonly found in most Galges. Rean fits perfectly in the role of a blend hero that don’t draw much attention to himself and just wants to help everybody. There are many other elements like: the class president is a girl wearing glasses (who is also in the top ranks of the whole academy). The student council’s president is a cute girl. The cast of characters have an excessive number of little girls! Much more than on previous games. Even the ones who are not students are just too cute and young.

sennokiseki (62)sennokiseki (75)It doesn’t even make sense! There will be many events where old people will talk with those cute girls about important events from the past like they have participated in it, but they are not older than 25 (Sara’s age), are they time travelers? Why they are in such high ranks? It doesn’t matter how godly talented they are, ranks like general of commander should not be so easy to attain by a 23 years old!

sennokiseki (181)sennokiseki (89)Those girls are EXTREMALY POWERFUL! But the priority in their characterization was to make them look very, very cute, so they don’t really convince much.

sennokiseki (125)sennokiseki (127)This is one hell of a difference from other games in the franchise. This series attracted many gamers for their charismatic and unique characters, but this game had it all backward, making the heroes as much generic as possible. This is no joke! You can actually use terms from Eroges to classify each of the playable cast: Alisa being obviously a Tsundere (she is even blond and has mini-twin-tails), Eliot is the Shota-innocent friend, Laura is the Tomboy “one-sama”, Machias is the thick-head fool, Jusis is the snob and noble EMO, Emma is the “iinchou”, Fie is the mysterious loli and Gaius is the silent friend with a thin shadow. If I were to talk about the NPCs the list would just go on…

sennokiseki (150)sennokiseki (116)In my opinion, they wasted too much ammunition in this title. Every character in the main party is related to some of the most important people in the world. This include things like one of the most powerful noble houses, the police chief of a very important city, the president of the biggest weapon manufactory in the world, the adopted daughter of the strongest mercenary in history, and much more.

sennokiseki (133)sennokiseki (149)The problem is: Those are the parents of playable characters. The characters you actually take control are not even near from being as important or influential. It’s such a waste! Since the heroes related to those elements are so cliché, the events involving them end up being as predictable as them. The use of clichés in a plot is not necessarily a bad thing, but it has to be packed with at least some originality, or it will just result in a boring game, and “boring” is one of the worst things a game can be.

sennokiseki (141)sennokiseki (174)The visuals are somewhat inconsistent in quality. While the 3D models of most characters are very simple and use the same basic model, monsters and buildings are very well made. Most playable characters animate very badly, they look very robotic and their mouths are just a texture with two frames, the frame for the opened mouth is the same for all student characters, being it a male or female. I would say that they all move like Mokujin, but then I remembered Mokujin had pretty smoothly animations since the PSOne generation, so this would be very unfair.

sennokiseki (48)sennokiseki (106)The voice acting is excellent, but limited. Only a few parts of the main story is voiced, and some events are voiced just partially, with the dub being suddenly cut in the middle of a scene. It is really inconsistent and I just can’t help but feel something lacking. Rean is specially affected by this, since the game wants to look like a Galge, he gets no voice for most events in the school (and that is more than half of the game!).sennokiseki13The game pacing is very slow and the events are presented in a very linear form with some repetitive parts. Every chapter start during a certain class, after which Rean has to work helping the student council with many errands (side-quests), and later has all the party visiting a certain dungeon again and again every chapter (each chapter lets you go futher. Enemies change, but the layout, music and gimmicks stay the same).

sennokiseki (177)sennokiseki (41)Skipping some days, Rean’s class trains a bit against a robot in the school grounds and then they are divided in two groups and sent to a new city. Rean always end up in a group where there are two members that are not in good terms, so he helps them become friends. These conflicts are always something silly like: “I hate nobles”, “I hate soldiers”, or “I hate my mother, but I want her to love me”.

sennokiseki (164)sennokiseki (165)Now, with the bad out of the way, it’s time to praise this game for its superb city designs! They are all very distinct from each other and it’s possible that not even a single tile of texture is shared between any location. The cities are all huge and each section comes with many details.

sennokiseki (126)sennokiseki (145)This is a rare type of JRPG in nowadays which actually let you explore and even rewards you for doing so. Like in the previous games, there are many NPCs in each town and they actually speak interesting things every day, giving a certain notion of a daily routine and mini-arc for each of them. It’s very rare to found a unnamed NPC and most have even unique designs!  It is really sad that the linear nature of the game never let you free to re-enter cities you have previously being to. This would easily make it one of the best RPGs in this criteria.

sennokiseki (85)sennokiseki (21)The battle system is very similar to the one found in the other Legend of Heroes, meaning that those who are familiar with Lunar or Grandia battle system will feel right at home. The most notable difference is that the team attack system has evolved into a more complete and solid system, rather than the random team attack that activated as one of the bonus during the battle turns.

sennokiseki (102)sennokiseki (103) This lets the player admistrate with who one character will interact during combinations, and doing certain optional events and using the same pair will give a level up to their combination, unlocking new abilities like auto-cure, cover and stronger team attacks.sennokiseki11The game makes many Shout outs to Zero no Kiseki, like with the game’s prologue being a dream about one of the last chapters in the game (lacking some details though), the protagonist reaching the main city by train and you first team being equivalents to the party of the S.S.S. (Rean is Lloyd, Eliot is Tio, Gaius is Randy while Machias is Elie).

sennokiseki (134)sennokiseki (139)They are nothing near as good as the Zero troop, but this is just fair since, for this game, you have 11 character to control (4 at the battlefield with 3 on the reserve, while the orders can be changed later). For this reason, there is no character with more than one S-Craft attack. This give a lot of strategy to the game.

sennokiseki (11)sennokiseki (12)The difficult is quite unbalanced, having the player disintegrate enemies with a single attack, but being humiliated by the boss found in the end of the same dungeon. However, there are plenty of ways to become ridiculously strong in this game, and if everything fails, there is always the S-craft attacks to help.

sennokiseki (171)sennokiseki (172)During most of the gameplay, the story development was not too exciting. The Final Chapter didn’t help by having one of the lamest of developments that I’ve seen in a RPG. However, everything was suddenly changed by an unexpected development that shifted the focus and atmosphere of the whole plot.

sennokiseki (76)sennokiseki (168)Of course it made look like a different game all along, but at that point, it was a big surprise. It proved that the writers are not afraid to take that feeling of safety one could have with a family-friend story full of “moe-moe-kyun” and mercilessly destroy it by adding some new elements.

sennokiseki (183)sennokiseki (188)At first, I was praying that this game ended as a stand-alone title, so the next legend of heroes could focus in a whole new group and story. Well…it seems that this is exactly what we will get in the next game, but it will be continuing the events from this game with a somewhat different style of story more directed toward action than a slice-of-life.sennokiseki15 Now I am really interested in what will happen next! I am just a little sad that my favorite playable character turned out to be evil, but I guess it’s ok, he did became a bad-ass after all!sennokiseki (190)

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13 responses to “Game Review – Legend of Heroes ~ Sen no Kiseki(PS3/PS Vita)

  1. Pingback: Game Review – Tears To Tiara 2(PS3) | Otaku Overdrive

  2. Wow, that’s what I was exploring for, what a stuff! existing here at this webpage, thanks admin
    of this site.

  3. So basically, it is an JRPG with the heart of an Galge (not very good one) and rife with so many cliches the story development suffers for it, right? My wallet say “No”, but my heart “Yes”, lol. It definitely doesn’t sound like the Eiyū Densetsu VII I was hoping for (maybe the sequel will change that), but since I was in willing to go in blind, I was expecting it to have some complications. I am still tempted too pick it up, yet just might wait on the second as you advise. I can always Youtube the story anyway.

    • I would say for you to play it if you absolutely love all kinds of school-love-comedy, because there’s much more problems to deal with others than the cliche plot, like the graphics, slow development, grind, and load times, long periods of load times!! But if you’re a big fan of the series, I think you would want to play it for youself, even if you end up not linking it. At least, I would…

  4. Well, I downloaded the demos for Sen no Kiseki I and II and all I have to say is, the battle system FREAKING ROCKS. Best battle system that I have ever seen in an JRPG. I like it a lot better than FFX-FFX-2 HD Remaster and the strangely complicated (well, for me anyways…) FFXIII-2/Lightning Returns FFXIII. I don’t mind the story from what little I can understand, I just love the cast of beautiful young characters at a high class Imperial Military Academy and the free-roaming in dungeons and the ability to stun enemies so that you can gain the upper hand. I’m thinking of snagging them both, as the first game has a huge price drop right now as a Best title. So far, these games are really fun, despite me not having had a chance to play the former Kiseki games (I will get around to playing the demons of the PSP ones I downloaded and check them out as well). I think so far that this is the best battle system that I have seen in a very long while and its real easy even for newcomers like me to understand, kinda fast, too. I’m enjoying them a lot. I was wondering, despite the fact that I’m playing a demo, can I use my demo data to continue onward ingame when I purchase the full games or no? I don’t really mind if not, I’m just practicing fighting enemies and looting treasure items right now and getting the hang of combat and whatnot. I put it the difficulty to Nightmare just for the hell of it, LOL. You probably don’t really get rewarded for playing on Easy mode, come on, play it on Hard or Nightmare Mode (although I’m sure there will be tons of tough bosses and enemies waiting, this is only the beginning!!)!!

    • Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Pretty much every other Kiseki fan feels the same about the series. Its battle system is known in Japan to be one of the best in the history of this genre! As for the characters…Well, to be honest, it is the least popular cast of heroes in the series, being heavely criticized by fan for being too cliche and stereotypical when compared with the heroes from previous games – who were known for being complex and unique characters. In contrast with these previous heroes, the kids from class VII look too much with generic Galge characters, but on the other hand, they attracted new players who love to play Galges, and I heard Alisa even have fans (although I think she is the lamest character in the whole series). In response to the negative feedback in the 1st Sen, Falcom took these heroes out of the school in Sen no Kiseki 2, and introduced a bunch of lolitas as new playeable party members and enemies…What can I say? It worked! Old fans didn’t complain as much and Galge fans got even happier! (Ok! There’s also the fact that the plot in 2nd Sen no Kiseki was vastly improved in comparison to its predecessor).
      I believe that, if you liked the characters from the Sen chapter, you will love the heroes from previous games even more!
      Rest assured, as your precious data from those demos CAN be used in the full game (I love when they make trials like this, since it means that you’re not wasting your time playing it!). The 1st Sen chapter is being localized too! But I fear that your data will not be compatible with the U.S. version.

  5. i just finished the game (the english version) and i find this review pretty lame. Your main concern is about the cliche characters, this is valuable only if you stopped playing after 5 hours. Because just like Sora no kiseki FC the game starts slowly and bad but progressively improves until it became brilliant in the end and we finally forget those cliches things. The game clearly focuses in its story, background and characters, the galge thing you’re talking about is clearly very minor. Overall i find it equal to FC (which oddly you enjoyed while they give the same vibes) or even better.
    .Also no mention to the super OST but well you decided to associate it with a galge that’s your choice.
    Sorry for the bad english (not my mother language)

    • Who are lying to? Sen no Kiseki never progress quite like FC did, the characters lack impact and mc is not nearly as interesting as the previous ones, less Estelle. FC was slow, really slow but try to build believed relantionship between Joshua and Estelle, the message was clearly given at least.
      The sim elements clearly hurt the overall impresion i have for Cold Steel, instead of having significant part of the game dedicated to them where they share their quirky and dynamic interaction with the main characters, you are expected to pick them on free time while FC and specially SC the plot moves in a way to let each character fit perfectly for the next hours where the narrative and these characters flow perfectly at times. They also feel so disjoined of the main plot and they lack of a better motive to do what they do. In FC, you have Agate who was given an special mission from Cassius to hunt the intelligence members, someone who is around mc age and want to personaly defeat Lowrence, Scherazard diciple of Cassius and teacher of Estelle its also investigating the goverment, Olivier as an Erebonian bard with his funny and clever commens who is always amusing to watch or tag along for that matter and while hidden his political connection, Zane who also a well known badass from another country who came for a mission, Kloe who was related to the royal family and play a vital role for the last part of the game as secondary as she looks. Estelle who is in search of her father and Joshua who with the same objetive also has something important to hide. SC reveal that most friends of Estelle have a rival related with the new villains and a past to hide. I can say Cold Steel II has none.

      Too bad if you are offended for the “cliche presentation and galge comparison” gangrelion made, while its true that Falcom moved around and tried to past forward its own presentation the game never really moved two steps away from the initial premise and most characters in Cold Steel give the feeling of “why are they even here?” Rean in fact is given the position of leader right away and you can see most females want him for no real reason meanwhile in FC nobody look up to Estelle and just in SC is when she matured that everyone realized she could be better as leader. Not to far from it Lloyd in Zero/Ao is similar with his harem basis but its a way better, already graduated from school the story start with his first real JOB as police officer, the rest of the game is hours of hours of dialogue where he mature and learn how to make a proper investigation dealing with drug leaders for example. Its a way more interesting.

  6. @MrTyrant Maybe you wanna check forums you’ll see that the majority of players are quiet pleased with Cold Steel characters and they love the interractions between them. Even kiseki hardcore fans (those who played all games and know all the stuff about the series) enjoy the game they just have problem with the low difficulty of the game which is easy to break.
    Even if we suppose Cold Steel inferior to FC it is still a very good game and far from being a galge. Sorry but just don’t do your ” Oh Kiseki is not like it was anymore it became a Harem cliche game ” thing .

    • I have no intentions to convince you that your opinion is wrong and mine is right, there are fans for anything in this world, after all. But I do believe that I have good reasons to dislike Sen no Kiseki, no matter if everyone from a certain group on the internet says otherwise. It’s not impossible for a hardcore fan who played all the games in the series to enjoy Cold Steel too, but if you want to draw the “internet said so” card, in Japanese forums, the big majority of the old fans felt alienated and most don’t intent to go back to play the series. But since the number of new fans that Falcom gathered with this new story style far exceeds the original fanbase (it was a cult series, after all) they won’t stop using this new style any time soon, which is sad to me and many fans. Well, at least there are people enjoying it!

  7. No I can say that no, old fans arent quite pleased from what Kiseki has become, maybe recently new fans that became aware that a game called eiyuu densetsu existed, and yes I can say the game still manage to be popular enough basically by appealing a broader audience, a younger one at that. Falcom plan was a success, they tone down the general story and aiming to an story that you monstly can found in a generic LN, what remained good its the legacy the game carry for being part of the franchine. Im not saying the game is harem because as one the events never deal with a romantic development so its even worse than a harem, its like a bait they trown but never wanted the game to move on just to not hurt what is canon.

  8. @gangrelion Yeah so japanese fans card Vs English-speaking fans card
    A draw i guess 🙂
    @MrTyrant Being old or new fan is irrelevant here, you sound like FC/SC/Zero/Ao have mature story and not CS which is obviously false because These are all shonen games.As a big fan of SC i found the the Cold Steel Story pretty good same level as FC. Moreover it is hilarious how you focus on these bonding events which take 10 min in a chapter which lasts about 8-9 hours.
    I admit Cold Steel has drawbacks but not in terms of story and characters sorry.
    (Just in case I am not a fan of School shonen animes)

  9. Pingback: The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky – rpg2play

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