The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
The Legend of Heroes: Cold Steel is a throwback to a simpler time. From its core to its exterior it channels a JRPG from the PlayStation 2's heyday. But that's hardly a demerit against it as it thrills with a familiar story, punchy dialogue, and excellent combat system.
The game follows an elite class of military cadets who find themselves thrown into the heart of a war, taking several pages from 2015's Final Fantasy Type-0. Surprisingly, it's got a leg up on the competition due to its deep, character-building dialogue, compelling narrative, and meaty political overtones.
There's plenty of exploration to be had with the various towns and dungeons of Cold Steel as you navigate the interpersonal relationships and issues that arise with war, but most of your time is spent in battle. The turn-based system features tight, interwoven systems that play off each other for critical attacks that hit hard.
Your four-person combat team can fight in pairs, and this duality links up well with the game mechanics. You should spend time getting to know your classmates and advancing your "bonds" but with a battle system that works this well you may find yourself strangely attracted to combat. It's punchy, visceral, and strangely fulfilling.
A fleshed-out cooking system, fishing mini-game, and rich amount of quests further round out Trails of Cold Steel, which feels like a beacon of familiarity in a world where traditional JRPGs seem to be going extinct. If you're looking to extend your classical role-playing library, this is one Vita title you'll want to bank on.