It has been five years since The Legend of Heroes: The Trails of Cold Steel’s saga began in the West. Gradually, we’ve seen the story of Rean Schwarzer, the Erebonian Empire, and even the people and territories adjacent to them and from other The Legend of Heroes games. There are a lot of feelings connected to The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV as a result. A sense of accomplishment is one, since this building conflict is finally going to be resolved. There’s also a sense of relief, since this will all be over. But at the same time, it’s somewhat overwhelming and exhausting. Especially since the prologue itself is a few hours long.
Trails of Cold Steel IV Review – Catching Up and Closing Up
Yes, you read that correctly. Getting through the the prologue alone will be a multi-hour experience. There are actual hours of watching NPCs you might not even remember deal with the repercussions of the end of the last game. Then, we have people from other The Legend of Heroes installments, like Trails in the Sky and Zero no Kiseki, getting involved and weighing in. After that, we see both the new and old members of Class VII handling the events and realizing what has to be done next.
It is impossible to say anything about Trails of Cold Steel IV’s plot without spoiling anything about the previous games. But in the vaguest terms, Juna, her new Class VII classmates Altina and Kurt, and fellow instructor Randy set off to reunite with Rean a few weeks after the events of Trails of Cold Steel III. Regardless of events that left people separated over the months and years in-game, eventually all of your Class VII original allies and newer ones reunite to create a massive party of people all united in a common goal to fight a curse, prevent a war and essentially save the world.
It’s a lot to deal with and take in. There are so many people you have to know and keep track of. Lots of them are also going to join your party, which means you’ll also have to keep their track of their equipment, links, and quartz. You’ll have to arrange you who you want in your party, but also who might be on hand to swap in. (Fortunately, people still level up even if they aren’t participating in battles, so you don’t have to use everyone to keep people competitive.) In a word, it is overwhelming. Even if you have kept up with the series, I’d almost say that the character profiles and Trails of Cold Steel III section in Backstory are required reading.
Trails of Cold Steel IV Review – The Familiar Formula
Generally, Trails of Cold Steel IV follows the same sense of procedure as the entries that came before it. You have objectives that send you across the world and into dungeons. Enemies can be seen in front of you, with you able to trigger a first hit by striking them.
Fights are again turn-based, with four allies in a battle. They’re paired up by links, and you have the option to swap other people in to help out. You still can use Brave Orders to give you an edge on the battlefield. S-Crafts return to offer people not one, but two different special skills. But if you played Trails of Cold Steel III, everything will feel pretty much the same.
In general, Trails of Cold Steel IV doesn’t feel all that different from the third entry. The menus generally look the same. It has the same engine and environments, so the places you’ll revisit look the same and it plays the same way. You’ll still be able to ride bikes and horses through certain areas if you need to return there to complete side quests or return. You still have crafting and upgrade options.
Trails of Cold Steel IV Review – Quality of Life and Additional Activities
To Nihon Falcom and Trails of Cold Steel IV’s credit, it seems like everyone involved in making the game understood people might be about ready to be done with all of it. If it has been a while since you played the past entries or maybe you missed one, there’s an extensive Backstory section with summaries of the previous three games, their characters, and their world. In the game itself, you can open the notebook to revisit character profiles to remind you of who everyone is.
It also has quality of life features to potentially help accommodate people’s needs and perhaps even speed things up. Very Easy, Easy, Normal, Hard and Nightmare difficulty levels are all available. You have a High-Speed Mode, which greatly speeds up your movement and saves you time when exploring. There’s the Auto battle option as well. So if someone is on the verge of exhaustion and wants the saga to be finished, then coupling Very Easy with Auto battles and High-Speed could help you get things done and focus on scurrying through the story (which is especially handy, should you want the true ending).
Conversely, you could go with a higher difficulty level to extend the experience. Or, if you went with an easier difficulty, you could swap to a different one briefly. Like past entries, it is filled with optional side quests. You could pursue additional activities like fishing, the Pom! Pom! Party! puzzle game and the once again addicting Vantage Masters card game. Vantage Masters is the best, yet again. I would buy a stand-alone Vantage Masters game.
It also continues the series’ trend of having Bonding Events, with some of the characters who have been present since this saga began having “real” romances and a few of the younger women having more of the idea of an eventual relationship (you can tell via hearts if these involve a love interest). But it feels like romances have the same issue in this fourth game as they did in the third, where it seems more like an afterthought. I’m happy with how things turned out for Rean and Laura in my playthrough, for example, but I feel like Trails of Cold Steel II is still the best in terms of romantic elements,
I appreciate that The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV is here. I’m glad this is finally over and having this sense of resolution. It’s a sense of finality, and it does an admirable job of bringing everything together and to a close. But it also very much is more of the same, only on a much grander scale and with an overwhelming amount of characters and exposition. This is a game for those who have been following along for the last five years and understand it is more about concluding a story than offering major innovations. While it can be exhausting and overwhelming, I would say it is worth it.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV review code provided by developer. Reviewed on a standard launch PS4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.