Trails of Cold Steel Romance and Bonding Guide

If you're wondering about Trails of Cold Steel's characters, romance, and bonding, who you can romance, and how your romantic and bonding choices carry over into Trails of Cold Steel II, you're in the right place.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel inundates you with a lot of information in the opening hours about a variety of different gameplay systems. It offers an overview of the bonding system, but leaves the romance aspect of bonding basically untouched, to say nothing of the vagaries related to how your choices affect the sequel.

That's what this guide is for. It gives advice on how to spend Bonding Points and how those bonding points eventually lead to a romantic relationship for Rean, plus what that means for Trails of Cold Steel II.

Be aware that the guide contains some slight spoilers about characters who join your party about mid-way through the game.

If you've stumbled on this guide while looking for games with romance and aren't sure what's going on, check out our overview of the entire Trails series.

Romance in Trails of Cold Steel

Romance is tied to your link levels, which advance based on a variety of factors. The activity that increases Link experience the most is choosing to use your Bonding Points on your free days with a specific character. Bonding events for Class VII characters grant you 500 Link XP for whichever character you choose to spend time with.

Note that spending Bond Points on Towa, Instructor Sara, and — for the first few chapters — Crow is the only way to increase your Link levels with them.

However, you can also gain a bit of Link EXP for the Class VII members you take with you during your monthly explorations of the Old Schoolhouse, and everyone in your group gains Link EXP at the end of a field study.

Is There A Canon Relationship?

Unlike earlier the Trails in the Sky games and the Crossbell duology, the Cold Steel games don't have canon pairings. Alisa is pushed as Rean's main love interest, though the game allows you to ignore that if you desire.

Entering into a romantic relationship with one of Rean's classmates or a Link-able NPC (like Towa) requires maxing out their Link Level by raising it to 5. Note that the Cold Steel games treat Rean's relationships with his male classmates as close friendships, though that hasn't stopped the fan community from shipping him with, well, everyone.

Here are the characters Rean can enter into a romantic relationship with:

  • Alisa Reinford
  • Emma Millstein
  • Laura Arseid
  • Fie Claussel
  • Millium Orion
  • Towa Herschel
  • Instructor Sara Valestein

Rean's relationships with Millium and Instructor Sara don't necessarily count as romantic in the same way as the relationships with the other female classmates, given their respective ages.

Trails of Cold Steel Final Bonding Event

For the most part, maxing out a character's Link Level doesn't really change the game. You find out more about that character's past, personality, and motivations, but the big difference doesn't come until the Thors Military Academy Festival towards the end of the game.

During the Festival, Rean gets the option to spend time with his friends. Should you choose to do so with one of the love interests, it triggers a special, final bonding scene and dance with that character. You only get to choose one partner to dance with.

Rean's male classmates get a special final bonding scene as well that, while not romantic, expands their characters quite a bit.

The easiest way to trigger these scenes is, of course, to max out Link Levels. But it's not the only way

Here are the Link EXP and additional requirements for each character's final bonding scene:

Alisa, Emma, Machias, Jusis, Elliot, Laura, and Fie

  • Link EXP: 5250

Or do one of the following:

  • Spend time during Chapter 6's Free Day
  • Ask to accompany you to Heimdallr to collect the Stage Costume (Bike Ride event)
  • Use at least 2 tickets on the character during the Festival

Millium and Crow

  • Link EXP: 3500 or more

Or do one of the following:

  • Spend time during Chapter 6's Free Day
  • Ask to accompany you to Heimdallr to collect the Stage Costume (Bike Ride event). Crow will go with you if you choose to go alone
  • Use at least 2 tickets on the character during the Festival

Instructor Sara

  • Link EXP: 4400 or more

Or do one of the following:

  • Spend time with her during Free Day in Chapter 6
  • Use at least 2 tickets on Military Academy Festival Day

Towa

  • Link EXP: 2000 or more. You can't actually see your Link Level with Towa, so the other conditions might be easier to keep track of

Or do one of the following:

  • Spend time with her during Free Day in Chapter 5 (Towa isn't available during Chapter 6)
  • Use at least 2 tickets on Military Academy Festival Day

Do Bonding Levels and Romance Transfer to Cold Steel II?

The short answer to this is yes and no. Trails of Cold Steel was designed similarly to the Ys games, where the protagonist's love interests are up to the player. As such, you're free to choose a completely different romance interest in Cold Steel II.

Link Levels start at a pre-set level in Cold Steel II. However, the person you chose to dance with during the Festival does get a Link EXP boost in CSII should you transfer your save data.

The biggest carryover is at the sequel's start, though, in a series of special flashback scenes.

You get to view a special scene that is meant to have taken place at the first Cold Steel's end between Rean and one of his friends. There is some misconception around that the scene is dependent on who you choose to dance with, but that isn't true.

Instead, you see scenes between Rean and each character he could have danced with, even if he didn't. So, say you choose to dance with Emma, but could have witnessed Instructor Sara's, Alisa's, and Elliot's final scenes. You'll still see all of their flashback scenes in Trails of Cold Steel II, plus the scene with Emma.

In other words, if you want to flesh out Rean's relationships with all of his friends, it's worth focusing on bonding events with your favorite characters throughout the game, instead of just your specific romantic interest.

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Romance might not be Trails of Cold Steel's strongest or most developed mechanic. However, it's a great way to learn more about Class VII and the people Rean meets at Thors Military Academy nonetheless.

Contributor

Josh Broadwell's gaming career began early--1993, to be exact--when he was introduced to the Super Nintendo and Super Mario World. Despite all the magnificent games the SNES and, later, the original PlayStation had to offer, it wasn't until the GameBoy Advance era that he finally discovered RPGs, which quickly became a favorite genre. He holds a BA in history, an MA in history, and is currently pursuing an MA in strategic communication.

Published Mar. 31st 2019

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