When it comes to wrapping up an epic, Trails of Cold Steel IV does it right

Nihon Falcom
Nihon Falcom /

There comes a time when everything must come to an end and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel epic reaches its finale in the West.

It’s been a long four years since The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel came to America on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. Just when you’re getting ready to jump ship to a brand-new generation of gaming, you can’t go leaving the current generation so fast.

When this series released in the West, we were just a young person getting into a top military school and looking to understand a brewing conflict in Erebonia. But it’s time to face the facts; Rean Schwarzer and company have grown older.

The mantle has been passed on to the next wave of Class VII and they’ve already undergone just as much, if not more, than what Rean and the original Class VII went through as a student. Bring in Valimar and it’s been the Rean show from the start but that’s what made it so integral to untangling the threads of the story that is Erebonia throughout the series.

Even Trails III featured another change to the series as the original cast aged and moved on to new pursuits while incorporating a new cast of young students to help tell the story of the Erebonian Civil War. It’s time to finish the story.

Trails of Cold Steel IV picks up shortly after the end of theTrails of Cold Steel III, with Rean Schwarzer missing. Now, students from the original Class VII and the new Class VII that gamers became enamored with in Trails III must unite to create the only chance the world has to be spared from destruction.

Some special people arrived in the game but was this just how much we set the stage for the ending?
Some special people arrived in the game but was this just how much we set the stage for the ending? /

Trails of Cold Steel IV rewards you for playing the previous games

Yea, you read that right. If you have the save data or clear data like me (no matter the percent from what I noticed), you’re going to get some free swag for the game. The swag you get gives you a boost but doesn’t overpower a character at the beginning. There are some differences in how all of this is awarded. For Trails of Cold Steel I-III, there are system data rewards that are handed out when a new game is started.

Previous game system data rewards

  • Cold Steel I
    All Sepith x200
    Sepith mass x200
    Attack 2 quartz
  • Cold Steel II
    All Sepith x200
    Sepith mass x200
    Action 2 quartz
  • Cold Steel III
    U-Materials x20

Now that that’s out of the way the System Data Rewards, the Clear Data Rewards are next. It’s assumed that the Clear Data Rewards from Cold Steel III is based on character level’s from Rean and the Branch School Reputation level as well.

  • Trails of Cold Steel III Clear Data Rewards
    Character level
    64 or Lower
    Parameter Boost items x1
    Parameter boost items x2
    Shining Pom bait x1
    75 or Higher
    Parameter boost items x3
    Shining Pom bait x2
    Zeram Powder x1
    Thors Branch School Reputation
    Second Rank
    Spirit Incense x1
    Top Rank
    Spirit Incense x2
    Dragon Incense x1
    Instructor Rank
    A+ / Fighter’s Medal: HP +1000, STR +10, prevents all ailments (available in-game)
    S / Champion’s Medal: HP +2000, STR +20, prevents all ailments (not available in-game)

However, the rewards are not immediately available in-game and will be available when you reach a certain point in the story. This follows the trend of the other Trails games and that gives a better incentive to those who have been on the journey from the beginning.

Get rewarded for playing previous Trails of Cold Steel games. Kurt commands it.
Get rewarded for playing previous Trails of Cold Steel games. Kurt commands it. /

Graphically, there wasn’t too much difference from Trails III and I’m ok with this

When it comes to how the Trails of Cold Steel series looks, things haven’t changed much. Characters have grown up and changed clothes. But from the days of the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, things had a marginal improvement. The remaster to PlayStation 4 was great as well because the scenery was what captivated my eyes the most.

An improvement over the way characters chat in the game helps keep the immersion aspect for the player and the characters. There were some minor syncing issues over the course of the game while I was reviewing but should’ve been addressed on a Day 1 patch.

The scenery though left threads to each of the previous games that give us a homely feeling for those who started the game from the beginning to now should settle in right at the start.

The speech was nonexistent in the beginning and that’s a problem

I was shocked or maybe I’m just spoiled at how the Trails of Cold Steel series ported onto PlayStation 4 and came with several additional voice lines and dialogue. That was most likely addressed with a Day One update that listed some dialogue changes in the patch notes on PlayStation 4 but that issue at the beginning really turned me off from the game.

Of course, powering through that issue is fine for JRPG gamers but it took away from the suspense that was built at the end of Trails III. It was a theme that reoccurred throughout the first chapter but, as stated, an update was released that may have addressed that issue.

Battle System received no improvements

Concerns over a battle system change are unwarranted and many times met with negative reviews. They didn’t make a single change to Trails IV outside of a brand-new permanent Craft move, which is completely fine. The only other change was the large cast of characters at your disposal but you may find a bit of confusion happening when you’re using new Orders but that will pass with time.

One thing that was noted, or maybe it was just how I sped through the prologue, but the levels for the characters were balanced well across the roster with some occasional buffs to certain cast characters throughout the story.

There was also a small quality of life improvement with the fluidity of the battles. If afflicted characters are in a battle with a status that takes away a turn, the game speeds up from them and continues so you don’t miss a beat.

Is everyone involved in saving Erebonia right now? Sure seems like it!
Is everyone involved in saving Erebonia right now? Sure seems like it! /

Mini-Games Return, this time, we can gamble

When playing through the game, the battles can seem numerous from the beginning of the first chapter to the second. It’s fine though, take a break with numerous mini-games which includes Vantage Masters.

Remember that unique card game? It’s back with no major changes to the system and it’s still as fun as it was when it was first introduced.

Fishing is back as well. If you weren’t interested in the button mashing that was Trails I and II, NIS America changed it in Trails III to the single button layout. That single button layout is back for Trails IV and is a nice reprieve from the battles that you’ll encounter.

There are some new pursuit games like Poker, Blackjack and a Horror Coaster that will be a great pursuit for you to take your mind off the story for a while.

With their system installed for Poker and Blackjack, don’t expect this to be a walk in the park unless you’re pretty sure you’re lucky. It’s a lot of RNG involved and I was only able to best the Poker table on my 500th attempt.

I wasn’t very happy with the opening audio during the review, but it was possibly addressed with an update. It took away from the suspense built in Trails III and the battles can feel a bit overwhelming in the beginning. However, it does feel like NIS America kept true to the previous Trails games and changed minimal things to keep older players excited for the end of this saga. With the amazing soundtrack, it was just a matter of time before you find yourself lost in the story. The battle mechanics do feel a bit more sped up from before which marked an improvement to the quality of life that was needed to keep the pace of the battles up. A large roster also keeps things interesting but there is a locking feature where some characters can’t be changed out, limiting the usage of the expansive roster in the beginning.. Nihon Falcom Corporation. . The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV. 8.5

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.