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83 hours for the First Chapter (FC) & 169 hours for the Second Chapter (SC). I still haven't started "the 3rd", but I'm guessing I will get pretty close to 400 hours based on my current pacing!

I played on "hard" difficulty for both games, but I aimed for perfect completion for both (Maximum BP, Completed guide books, minimal losses (kind of messed this up in FC, but did well in the SC)).

*spoiler free* Completion times: https://imgur.com/a/OVEdm

*some spoilers (unless you have finished the FC)* Bracer notebooks: https://imgur.com/a/TKBxi

*big spoilers* end of SC party setup: https://imgur.com/a/xJuWQ

I did use several FAQ's to help me get perfect BP. I don't feel this really reduced the challenge of the game or enjoyment for me, and the peace of mind was far more valuable to me. By taking my time I also was impressed to see even the NPC's have stories that progress alongside your own. If you are just following the bracer quests (even the hidden ones), it's fairly easy to miss them...and still with the amount of time I spent, I missed a lot of them (in general the NPC's stories progress roughly at the same time you progress in the main chapter quests).

I would like to say quite a bit on both the good and bad parts of the game, but at the end of it all, I enjoyed the experience immensely overall.
Post edited September 30, 2017 by Jamie.monro
That's a lot of time, did you have to grind a lot or replay battles? Though I guess it's not unrealistic; I never paid attention to the gametime time tracker, but I do think I never went past the 100-hour mark. I do get what you're saying – playing with a guide handy removes the anxiety of whether you've missed a single BP somewhere, and the guide in question is spoiler-free. Otherwise it's quite easy to miss many of the sidequests and items as there's a small window of opportunity to talk to an otherwise unimportant NPC that might be in another city altogether. Trails of Cold Steel is a bit more tolerant – you can miss up to 10 points and still get the highest rank. Achievements are another thing, though (they are unforgiving).
I'm actuallly pretty surprised at how long the game timer is myself. I regularly used "Alt" to accelerate time (My favourite new feature for the August 2017 updates) and I never tried to grind rank, though I always made sure that I got a complete monster guide (so Pom hunting required!). I did make sure I always defeated every monster in a new area at least once.

I did spend a lot of time on the orbment screens, but I actually ended up reloading to an earlier save so it wouldn't record how much time I had spent sorting out orbments.

I'm wondering whether the "Alt" to accelerate might be inflating the game time. There are some interesting side effects to it, for example pressing "Alt" in the menu screen will stop the minutes ticking over.

Achievements are kind of tied to GOG galaxy. I didn't have galaxy installed into partway through the SC, and so they are all rather messed up (and some were awarded that I shouldn't have, like revisiting all treasure chests in the game), so I don't really mind too much that I didn't get all of them, as long as I got maximum BP, completed guidebooks and all the missible equipment/quartz I feel satisfied with that level of completion.

I had a look at a 2 hour playthrough of Cold Steel. It looks a lot nicer graphically, and the combat looks more interesting, allthough the characters didn't seem so appealing...but the same could be said of Trails in the Sky, it takes some time for the character development to take off.

It looks like you keep the entire party with you at all times and switch them out in combat. At least you wont be missing out on any character specific dialogue which is a plus...though I could be wrong as I have only seen the first 2 hours of the game.
Achievements have always been bugged in TitS. I've been robbed of some even though they were supposed to be automatic (e.g. finishing a chapter), while some trigger when they shouldn't. The BP trophy is the only one that matters as there's a tangible reward that carries over into the next game.

As for Cold Steel, it certainly has its appeal that is no lesser than in the Liberl arc. Whereas TitS games have more of a coming-of-age, road narrative going on, ToCS is much more structured around its academy setting, creating a comfortable familiarity which allows you to bond with the characters more. The lengthy field trips are there to ensure diversity of environments. You don't always have the luxury of choosing among all the possible party members – typically you can choose a party of four people + two support characters and then switch between them as you please, but sticking to your choice of 5-6 people.

If anything, the Third Chapter of TitS is the odd one out as its structure is pretty much contrived (it takes place in a phantasmal world designed deliberately to test your main characters, so essentially an 80-hour dungeon crawl) so some of the magic of other games is lost, even though character development and dialogues are superb as always.
Well I haven't played the 3rd yet, but that is the next thing on my list (please, no spoilers!).

I've been looking more into Cold Steel and think it likely that I'll wait for the second part to be released and then purchase the two of them together (I've been warned that it ends on a major cliffhanger).

I'm not so sure about the "insert yourself" type protagonist (I've read that there is a harem elements to the game). I would much prefer to leave it to the writers to handle character choices and development like in TiTS. For example, if certain party members can only choose the protagonist as a 'love' interest, then it seems to me like that restricts their character development. In addition, the other members of your party can't develop relationships with other members, since you are the only one that can pick. This doesn't even have to be just romantic relationships, characters could have obligations, dreams or interests that are clearly more important to them.

Perhaps I'm worrying unnecessarily.

On a more positive note for Cold Steel, I was reading the blog by Peter "Durante" Thoman:
http://xseedgames.tumblr.com/tagged/durante

I was mightily impressed at all the graphics enhancements that went into the game, and the optimizations that were done. A lot of really nice features were added (Especially HBAO+, TRSSAA, unlimited draw distance, and of course the "Turbo" mode that I can't live without anymore).
While I agree that Rean, the main character from ToCS, is a bit bland compared to Estelle and Joshua, there is no harem to speak of. Instead, there is one love interest that seems to be canon (judging from the way the game keeps pushing it), but there is no romance with other female characters. There are only bonding events with classmates, which is natural for that type of relationships. Secondary characters do not form romantic relationships with each other (with perhaps an exception or two), but have their own background, stories and issues that develop throughout the game. If you liked Schera, there's a prominent character very similar to her in ToCS.

I liked TitS very much and found ToCS to be a bit better in some aspects, and a bit worse in others, while following the same Legend of Heroes formula – taken in its entirety it's pretty much the same, so you shouldn't worry! ToCS 1 should take you 70-90 hours to complete, and the second chapter is due to be released by the end of the year, according to some unofficial/leaked reports. Just in time I think, with a month or so to take a break so that we don't get burned out by the series. :)
Thanks a lot for the feedback on ToCS; that sounds a lot less worse than I imagined.

Even if I purchase Part 1 & 2 though (at the end of the year or early next year if that is when 2 is released), I'm a little worried about another cliffhanger ending since there are 3 parts. I was kind of relieved that I never finished TiTS:FC when it was initially released, since after finishing it recently I can only imagine the pain people went through waiting for the SC, as I had SC & the 3rd both in my library when I did finish it.

Thinking about it, I wonder if they would of been better off without the cliff hangers. TiTS could of moved the cliffhanger to the second part and you would have 2 stand alone titles (lots of questions unanswered, but I still felt that way after the end of the SC). The knowledge that ToCS part 1 has a cliffhanger (I don't look for spoilers, but it seems to be pretty common knowledge), is holding me back from purchasing the game at least until the second part is out.

This isn't good for Falcom, or XSEED who did the localization, but I don't want to start and finish a game knowing that I may have to wait months or even years for the next part. On the other hand if everyone thought like this, I don't think we would even have TiTS:SC, or ToSC for PC (thank the gods I'm in the minority).
The third part in the Cold Steel series has only been released in Japan for a couple of weeks so it'll take a while before that one's localized. These games have gigantic scripts. That said, the 3rd Cold Steel ends in a cliffhanger too and people are expecting the 4th one to be announced in the not-too-distant future. Falcom tends to write game scripts for their game only to find out later that they're too large to fit into a single game, meaning they have to split it in two. This happened with Trails in the Sky FC and SC, with Cold Steel 1 and 2 and now with Cold Steel 3 and its sequel too.

Cold Steel 2, at least, doesn't end on a cliffhanger. It leaves quite a few loose ends unresolved, but it's not the cliffhanger that FC and CS1 are.