One of the greatest Japanese role-playing series in recent years is rolling on with its fourth entry. Fans can prepare to rejoice—this is no doubt one of the best entries in the franchise to date. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV is out right now for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC and Stadia.
The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel IV Details
Much like the other games in the series, The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel IV is an extremely story-heavy game, even for a JRPG. This is not without good reason however. It’s the fourth and final entry in the narrative-rich Cold Steel series, and a direct continuation of Trails of Cold Steel III.
The story depends heavily on the events of the previous Cold Steel games, so if you haven’t played them, you’ll have some catching up to do. The game itself has a “Backstory” menu selection at the title screen, which allows you to read and watch animated events from all three previous games as well as read up on character profiles and a world introduction.
With that said, The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel IV does a pretty good job of keeping you in the loop. The narrative itself often offers enough context of who recurring characters are to allow new players to follow along. With this technically being my first entry into the series, it took me a few hours of play before I started piecing things together.
The long awaited finale to an epic storyline
The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel IV is the conclusion to the storyline that started back in December of 2015 on PS3 and PS Vita. Trails of Cold Steel IV takes place a few weeks after the third game with the Erebonian Empire on the brink of an all out war. The heroes of Class VII find themselves against the full force of the Empire in an attempt to stop its path of total domination.
Moreover, the hero of the Erebonian Civil War and Class VII’s instructor, Rean Schwarzer, has gone missing. It’s now up to you, the students of Class VII, to unite with heroes from all over the continent to create the only chance the world has to be spared from total destruction. As with other games in the series, Trails of Cold Steel IV is rich in narrative and back story.
So much in fact that the introduction to the game is roughly 50 minutes long! The game leaves no stone unturned when examining the relationships between its rich and diverse cast of characters. Where another game might jump from one event to another, Trails does not hesitate to show everything in between that connects them. Many parts of the dialogue in the game are voiced but you can still expect to do quite a bit of reading. At times, it can be quite overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with the overall storyline. With all this in mind, Trails of Cold Steel IV’s story is phenomenal. Overall, I believe that the series storyline is one of the best JRPG stories in recent memory.
Deep, rich, satisfying combat that’s never overwhelming
The turn-based battle system in The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel IV is one of my favourites of any JRPG. It’s incredibly deep and complex, yet never feels confusing or overwhelming. Instead it offers a huge variety of strategies and options that never gets dull over the course of the lengthy campaign.
There are so many possibilities to consider in battle. Players can exploit enemy weaknesses in a variety of ways, such as physical break attacks, elemental weaknesses, and more. Players have multiple expendable attack currencies to manage, making each move explore a wealth of options rather than simply repeating a standard attack choice. Special skills, link attacks and even quick-time follow ups are part of your arsenal.
New and returning combat systems join the already polished combat of the series, including the ability to summon giant mechs to the field for devastating attacks, engage in Auto Battle for more expedient combat, and utilize Lost Arts. All of this may sound overwhelming, but the deliberately slow pace of The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel IV means that you are introduced to each new mechanic slowly instead of a dozen features at once. There is rarely a wrong choice to be made in battle. In fact, it’s just a matter of finding your favourite strategies over time.
The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel IV is one of my favourite JRPGs in recent memory
The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel IV is one of my favourite JRPGs in recent memory. The game’s epic conclusion to the storyline is immersive and the world in which you play allows for endless hours of exploring. Its capacity to make you care for the characters that inhabit this tale rivals that of its most critically-acclaimed peers.
The slow pace might be a bit much for some, but if you stick with it and give The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel IV a chance you’ll fall head over heels in love with it. In my opinion, the payoff, both narratively and mechanically is well worth the time you put into the game.
+ Engaging narrative
+ Deep and rich combat system that never feels confusing or overwhelming
+ Huge cast of characters each with their own personalities
+ Excellent resources for catching up on the story from previous game
+ Lots of content in addition to the main story to keep you entertained
– If you haven’t played previous games the story may seem confusing to some
– Slow pace of the story can be a turn off to some
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE LEGEND OF HEROES TRAILS OF COLD STEEL IV
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5