Initial release date: September 27, 2018 Series: The Legend of Heroes Publisher: NIS America Engine: PhyreEngine Developers: Nihon Falcom, Engine Software, Reactor sc Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia
"Review Copy Provided By NIS America"
One of the most common things that you will hear from people who look at the Trails series is how many either don’t know where to begin given how many titles there are or they feel incredibly overwhelmed because if you drop in the Cold Steel subseries then you’re effectively jumping into the midway point of a massive overarching story that will unapologetically reference earlier titles making it not as newbie friendly as one would hope. So with the release of Cold Steel IV in 2020 on PS4 and STEAM and in 2021 on Nintendo Switch have many wondering if they should bother hoping into the franchise at this point especially when this is marketed as “The End Saga” and while I know that can be daunting; I’m here to tell you that YES you can hop into this title without playing the previous entries with the cavaet of my urging you to hop into the earlier entries if you get the opportunity. Without wasting more time, LET’S GET INTO IT!
The story of Cold Steel IV follows several weeks after the end of Cold Steel III as class VII is faced with the threat of a world war which could potentially end Zemuria. With Rean Schwarzer being MIA, Class VII is seeking to gather together anyone that is willing to fight to prevent the looming world war.
I wont speak more on the story as there I literally nothing I can say here that wouldn’t be a spoiler so all I will say is that this story is effectively the Marvel’s Infinity War: End Game to Cold Steel III’s Infinity War.
The gameplay is mostly the same as the last entry with its focus on turn-based battles, minigames, and side quests alongside the main story. Battles still utilize S-Craft abilities and more along with having you move about the battlefield for strategic purposes to either avoid certain attacks or to line up the enemies for a massive AOE (Area of Effect) attack. Building up your team and having specific members in it is essential in order to make some battles be a cake walk as you can customize almost every aspect of your team with things such as Quartz and more that lend themselves to you being able to have a higher than average crit rate allowing you to land critical hits more often as well as boosting your attack and defense stats by a large margin.
There aren’t really many new mechanics to the gameplay for me to speak on as this is very much more of what you got in Cold Steel III so if you loved that game and how it played then be prepared for more of the same.
Graphically speaking, I don’t have a lot here to speak on as the game looks no different than Cold Steel III; that makes sense given hat both games were developed concurrently and use the same graphics engine so don’t expect it to look at all ground breaking let alone anything close to being current or last generation graphically. Given that Nihon Falcom are a smaller developer, they don’t exactly strive to make the most graphically intense games on the market which is why their two flagship titles Ys and Legend of Heroes (along with Xanadu, Zwei, and the modern Dragon Slayer games) always look atleast one to two generations behind what the current platforms for gaming are not to mention the majority of their games are meant for portable gaming devices such as the PS Vita and previously the PSP.
On the PlayStation 4 and 5 the game runs at 1080p 60FPS with no slowdowns at all while the Nintendo Switch version runs at 1080p 30FPS docked and in handheld mode it runs at 720p 30FPS with minimal slowdown here and there. It is disappointing that the Switch version of this and the previous entry along with Ys VIII and Ys IX run at a lower framerate instead of at 60fps which is jarring. Also of note is how much more dark and drab and in many ways washed out the Switch version is in comparison to the PlayStation version.
When it come to the OST, well……this is a Nihon Falcom game so that alone tells you you’re getting a godtier soundtrack. Literally every track especially the battle track gets you pumped up or is accurate to the situation that you’re in which goes a long way in setting the mood and mindset for where you are in the game.
The voice acting is just as amazing as it’s always been and you can tell that everyone definitely nailed their roles and for the returning cast you can definitely tell that they have grown with the characters and understand the needed cadence and candor for who they are portraying.
I will say that one thing NIS America has a bad reputation for their localization efforts especially with what they did with Ys VIII (The original localization led to a public apology from the company and a full on redub and relocalization of the game) and left a lot of Trails fans concerned about their taking over Falcom games from XSeed who have always been experts in localization of these franchises. Despite the concerns, NIS America has done a phenomenal job since they took over the reigns of this franchise and I just have to commend them for it with how exceptionally long these games are and the dialogue being as extensive as it is.
The only real downside to me for this game is how the game runs on the Switch and the occasional slowdown and longer loading times it has which to me shouldn’t even be a thing.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV is most definitely the end of an era for the Trails series and lives up pretty well to the sub title of “The End of Saga” as it wraps up this current arc of the overall narrative as we head into the next chapter of the ongoing story with Trails into Reverie in 2022/2023. Cold Steel IV was every bit of a video game version of Marvel’s Infinity War and End Game and it truly was and is an absolute joy to dive into and if you play the other games in the series then this is most definitely one of the most rewarding and engaging stories you will ever partake of in gaming. With solid albeit dated visuals, phenomenal turn-based RPG mechanics, a story that is so good and will have you on the edge of your seat with a finale to the current story that will leave you wanting more; The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV is one of the greatest games of this generation that you must play!