The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III from Nihon Falcom and NIS America is ready to go on PS4! Learn more about this JRPG gem in our The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III review!
Nearly a year and a half has passed since the Erebonian civil war, and much has changed since then. From the shifting stances of countries to the internal politics of the Empire, and even the life of Rean Schwarzer, the shadows of the past have given way to the embers of a new chapter. Now graduated from Thors Military Academy, Rean has become an instructor at the Thors Branch Campus, a newly-opened academy that quickly finds itself thrust onto the national stage. It is here that he takes the lead of a brand new Class VII, and must guide a new generation of heroes into an unknown future. Though all is calm now, the nefarious Ouroboros organization continues to weave a dark plot that could engulf the entire continent in war…or perhaps something even more sinister.
Before diving any deeper into this review, I’d like to give some context on The Legend of Heroes game series. In this series, there are two main franchises: Trails in the Sky, and Trails of Cold Steel. Both take place in the same world but in different countries, Liberl and Erebonia, respectively, but are happening roughly in the same time frame. They also share many elements and characters between the two. Each series can be played independently, but numbered entries are direct sequels of the previous ones. While it is technically possible to begin with Trails of Cold Steel III without having played any of the previous entries, you’ll miss out on some crucial background story arcs to be able to enjoy this game to its fullest potential.
As the game begins, you’ll be following new characters on a mission in a fortress. I was surprised to notice that Rean wasn’t in the party, so I initially thought the game was going to feature a whole new cast, but this was simply an introduction to some of the new faces, and Rean eventually made an appearance. This scene is actually taking place further into the story, and once this segment is over, we’re taken back to the beginning of the game that will eventually led to these events, just like at the beginning of Trails of Cold Steel I! Also worth mentioning is that the battle system is completely unlocked at that point and that it was fun to play with its new features.
For this new story arc, Rean and the original students of Class VII have already graduated. Rean has become a teacher in the new Thors Branch Campus, a new school that was built in the Crossbell province of the Erebonian Empire. He’ll have a new Class VII, and three new students will join. Together they’ll explore a new school ground dungeon, which was the new campus version of the Old Schoolhouse, and then head out onto the world to explore new locations. I was happy to see that most locations are new places to visit, which was a nice change of pace when compared with Trails of Cold Steel II, which revisited most of the locations from Trails of Cold Steel I.
Now, if you’re new to the Trails Of franchise, you have to know that these games are a bit text-heavy and features a lot of reading through each campaign. For instance, do not expect to wander far or to battle much during the first three hours or so of the game since that space is used to present the context and characters of Trails of Cold Steel III. This new entry has a huge world to explore, and it’s packed with a ton of lore and references to previous releases. In case it’s been a while since your time with Trails of Cold Steel II, the start of this sequel will reintroduce the characters from the last game.
As for the gameplay, if you’ve played the previous Trails of Cold Steel releases, you won’t be lost as most of the gameplay is following the same path. The battle system is similar, still using Attacks, Arts (magic spells), Crafts (special attacks that consume CP), and S-Crafts (similar to limit breaks, available once your CP reaches 100). However, the battle system presentation has actually been overhauled, and I did like the new presentation, although I thought that the new HUD was rather small and hard to read even when playing on my 55″ TV.
As I played, the active party sometimes switched from Rean to other characters, which I liked since it felt like a good way to expand on the Cold Steel universe. Following on the steps of Cold Steel II, you’ll experience a few Mech battles, using either Panzer soldats or Divine Knights. I liked those segments since they added some variety to the gameplay, and I thought that these combat sections were even more entertaining than those on previous releases, since I had to figure out how to unbalance an enemy to do any considerable damage.
One of the features I loved the most about this new game is the new High Speed Mode (which appeared in Cold Steel I on the PS4 earlier this year), which makes it possible to increase the game speed by 2. I stumbled on it by accident, and it can be activated to save you some time by double-clicking on the left side of the tactile board on the DualShock 4 controller. Battles also benefit from this speed increase, and if you set battles to Auto, speed is increased even further – make sure to check your characters’ health as it can quickly drain out.
The presentation of Cold Steel III is also amazing, and the engine
has seen a considerable overhaul from the previous release, giving us a better-looking game with no loading times when entering a battle. The soundtrack does reuse some of the themes from previous Cold Steel games, and while the battle system theme was catchy, it doesn’t take the place of what to me is th best Trails Of battle theme, the one from Trails in the Sky: Second Story.
Some of the time I spent playing The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III was done on my PlayStation Vita by way of remote play, and I did notice that the developers have taken care of integrating remote play into their plan since it works great and feels very natural, even though some buttons have been replaced because the PlayStation Vita has less available button inputs.
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of the Trails Of franchise, and Nihon Falcom and NIS America have released a very good game with Trails Of Cold Steel III on PlayStation 4. We’re getting a brand new story with overhauled graphics, and new gameplay options that enhance the overall experience. I definitively recommend this game to players looking for an amazing JRPG on PlayStation 4 since it’s one of the best out there.
If you’re curious about this one, you might want to take advantage of the demo which you cna download from the PlayStation Store. It features around three hours or so of content, and if you decide to purchase the full version your save file will carry over.
PSN Game Size: 12.5GB
This The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by NIS America.