We analyze what the fourth installment of Trails of Cold Steel gives, a title that is the culminating point in the history of Rean Schwarzer and Class VII.
With a certain delay, the recent installments of The Legend of Heroes series are finally arriving at our borders. In the case of Trails of Cold Steel, this sub-series began its progression in a somewhat uneven way in its versions of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita with the arrival of the first two installments during the end of the Sony desktop cycle. The jump to the new generation with PlayStation 4 would mean a change in the quality of the series, as it would offer a revamped graphic section drastically improving the level of detail in both character modeling and scenarios, in addition to tweaking the interface of the combat system, which in essence would retain its characteristic features, with the release of the third installment of the series.
In the West we were lucky to receive last year the remasters of the first two installments of the series, which offered all the content per download included, while we would see the arrival of the next title, Trails of Cold Steel III, which began the second. part of the Erebonia Arc with Rean Schwarzer taking on the role of instructor for the new Class VII. Today we get the fourth and last installment of this arc in which we will see the end of Rean’s story and the climax of his confrontation with Giliath Osborne. Below we will detail what this new title has given.
The story of this new installment takes place two weeks after the events that took place at the conclusion of the previous title, with the continent of Erebonia on the brink of a new war in which the Empire prepares for a conflict that will face the Republic by Calvard. Meanwhile Juna Crawford. Kurt Vander and Altina Orion awaken in the village of Eryn under the auspices of Roselia Millstein, the most powerful witch who leads the Hexen clan, along with the members of the old Class VII. In view of the events and the low morale that prevails, the determination pushes Juna Crawford and his companions, Altina Orion and Kurt Vandal, to venture in search of Musse Egret and Ash Carbide in the hope of, along with the members of the former Class VII locate the whereabouts of the missing Rean Schwarzer to, with his help, stop the advance of the Great Twilight, a phenomenon that has affected much of the region and its people and that will lead to the end of the world, while the plans of Giliath Osborne and his followers.
The action of the game will take the group through the different areas of Erebonia, including the views in the previous title along with new locations that will be visited as the plot progresses, facing the monsters that will be found along the way, as well as bosses, including some of the villains in the series. To help them on their journey they will have the help of the members of the old Class VII, who can be selected as part of the battle group at certain times, and also of the members of the Thors Academy branch, dispersed after the end of the last game and that they will provide support through certain moments of the game during the plot development, not becoming participants in the combat in this case. It becomes clear, therefore, especially for those who have played the series in its entirety, the similarity of development of this game to Trails of Cold Steel II. As in the previous title, several of the graduates of the main campus, appeared in the first two titles, will make an appearance both as part of the development of the plot, and invaluable help, as well as to carry out specific tasks for them, such as the In the case of Rex, who in this case will fill the role of Vivi to send him images of different areas of Erebonia.
The combat system preserves the characteristics acquired from the previous delivery, offering the command control scheme using the directional buttons and those of the command to offer a more simplified access and in turn the different classic characteristics of the saga, such as magic (Arts ), special attacks (Craft and S-Craft) and the links between characters (Link), in addition to the Brave Order system to confer temporary improvements of parameters during a number of turns in exchange for BP points (Brave Points), accumulated through hitting critical attacks on enemies and giving rise to the option to use Link Attacks. In this installment, some adjustments have been made to the order system in such a way that they are more balanced in combat while increasing the Brave Points bar to a total of 7 points maximum, facilitating the option of using additional commands or orders. while refilling the bar more easily. Another novelty will allow, once the story is advanced, to summon the Panzer Soldats units of the members of the new Class VII in combat to execute a special attack, spending in exchange the points of the character’s magic bar.
The newspaper once again offers the various regular tasks of previous games, both with character cards with some information about them, which will be added through the development of the game or watching certain events, such as completing the different culinary recipes and their variants, the books with data on the history of the game world and other adventures, the cards collected from the Vantage Masters minigame or the fish caught through the different designated areas of Erebonia. Likewise, the progress of the different orders that are presented during the adventure will also be given, both main ones related to the main plot and other secondary ones, which will mainly serve to increase the amount of AP (Action Points) obtained during the adventure at the end of each section of the game and that will serve to increase the rank of Academy, which will provide some rewards as an added incentive. These can also be obtained by fulfilling proposed objectives during boss fights in the game. On the other hand, the challenge chests seen in Trails of Cold Steel II are recovered, which require certain characters to defeat special monsters of great power and which will grant, after defeating them, improved versions of the orders of some of the participating characters in combat as well as the Lost Arts, high-powered quartzs that contain powerful magic and are obtained after defeating high-level enemies in specific areas of Erebonia.
Another remarkable aspect of the game is the wide range of playable characters during the adventure. The well-known members of both Class VII will be joined during the journey by the main characters of the Arches of Liberl and Crossbell as members of the active group. This marks the reunion of the players with Estelle, Joshua and Renne Bright, main characters of Trails in the Sky, as well as Lloyd Bannings, protagonist of Zero and Ao no Kiseki who players will remember from his appearance in the final stretch of Trails of Cold Steel II, although this time accompanied by Ellie MacDowell and KeA, his companions and important characters in the development of the story arc of the Crossbell games. Thus the roster of controllable characters amounts to a not inconsiderable number of 39 selectable, adding some that will only be available at the end of the game. In addition to these, it is worth mentioning that other important characters from the series will make an appearance during the development of the plot in this game, especially later in the adventure.
The minigames in this installment are increased with some additional options. At the outset, it is worth mentioning that the Vantage Master returns to make an appearance and as in the previous game, several will be the characters that can be faced in strategic card battles, although starting again with a basic deck and having to go back to get new cards. Likewise, fishing is another of the activities to take into account, having to capture a total of 30 different species of fish through the fishing areas of Erebonia, but also including the occasional secondary mission in which to capture a type special. The novelty is presented by the Barca casino, located in Crossbell, where you can play games of Poker and Black Jack, in which you can win medals to exchange for various objects and accessories, and the Pom! Pom! Party !, a virtual game reminiscent in a certain way of Puyo Puyo in which you face the different characters of the series in battles in this interesting puzzle game, earning CP points by making chains that will serve to accumulate power and execute Crafts of attack or defense that will help to load pressure on the opponent’s pieces or release their own, respectively.
Friendship events return again in certain sections of the game to deepen Rean’s relationship with the characters in such a way that the relationship with them progressively increases in exchange for spending points to activate them to suit the player. The novelty, in this case, lies in the events with some of the female characters that, as they progress through them, will reveal their feelings for Rean while deepening their personal background with respect to previous games. By increasing the affinity with these characters, two additional heart-shaped icons can be added with which they will be part of Rean’s love options in the final stretch of the game, which at a certain point will have to choose between one of them to his definitely preferred.
In the playable section, this new installment preserves many of the virtues that made the previous games remarkable and eye-catching titles for JRPG fans, offering an interesting plot development while turn-based combat that is entertaining and addictive in the long run thanks to the use of the different techniques that their characters have and the order system, in addition to the new Panzer Soldat summoning option. The increase in the number of characters that will be part of the combat group is an addition of great interest, especially for those who wanted to see the protagonists of Trails in the Sky in action again, which is a good detail for fans of the series . The minigames, meanwhile, complement the experience through different types, among which the return of Vantage Masters and the novelty that the Pom! Pom! Party!
In terms of graphics, the game offers the same graphics engine as the last installment and reusing a good part of the locations seen in that same title as well as the models of some characters that continue to retain their usual appearance. However, the novelty comes from the new costumes that the characters have, especially highlighting the members of the new Class VII, and the redesigns of the characters of previous arches, which are improved compared to previous deliveries, especially the protagonists of Trails in the Sky.
The sound section, for its part, is one of the most notable aspects of this title, thanks to the compositions that the game shows throughout the game, including themes already included in previous games as well as new ones for the occasion, highlighting themes like Burning Throb, the new theme for battles at the beginning of the game, Without Our Own Hands !!, which is heard during the clashes between mecha, or To the Future, theme of the final dungeon of the game and perhaps one of the best themes that the soundtrack has. In general, the variety offered in this aspect is wide, including musical themes in which the piano stands out as an instrument, as in the track Bonds that sounds in the main menu, along with other more rockers or others with a more electronic style. In terms of voices, the game offers the possibility to choose between English and Japanese dubbing.
In general it can be said that Trails of Cold Steel IV is in line with the previous installment, both in terms of gameplay and plot development, technical and sound section. Although it does not include notable changes in certain aspects, except for minor adjustments in the combat system and minigames, the real incentive comes from the outcome of Rean’s story after four installments and the final cross between the stories seen in previous arcs, especially regarding the protagonists of the Liberl arc, and what they suppose for the arrival of the next chapter of the series.
- The combat system, which continues to be addictive with the different confrontations during the game.
- The cast of characters, highlighting the inclusion of the characters from previous games in the saga and forming a wide roster to choose from.
- Notable musical section, including tracks of different styles both from new compositions and reused from other games.
- Technically, it maintains the quality seen in the previous installment, both in the graphic section and in the framerate.
- Texts only in English.
- Some details are lost as there is no official location for the Crossbell arc titles.
A benchmark title of its kind, which stands out above its competitors and that you will enjoy from start to finish, probably several times. A game destined to become a classic over the years.