REVIEW : The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV (PS4)
The Legend of Heroes is a thirty-year series, which has fourteen chapters to its credit, nine of which are dedicated to the Trails narrative arc and four to Cold Steel. In this sense, Trails of Cold Steel IV carries a considerable weight on its shoulders, that of giving a worthy conclusion to a story that has its roots in the last ten years or so. Although, as already mentioned, Rean Schwarzer’s adventures only take place in the games called Trails of Cold Steel, the general setting was shaped at the time of The Legend of Heroes VI: Trails in the Sky SC. From this perspective, therefore, it is clear that the final chapter is better usable by those who have at least played the narrative arc of Cold Steel.
Despite having a summary of the three chapters that precede it, Trails of Cold Steel IV is not a game for a novice who wants to get closer to the series, both for obvious reasons of spoilers and because it is difficult to keep track of what has happened so far. . Given the necessary premises, Trails of Cold Steel IV is an overall very satisfying experience, in line with what the series has shown over time, but it fails to keep up with the third chapter, especially in terms of narration and management of the same. Also thanks to a story without too much bite, in which the ending above all fails to fully convince. Even the management of the antagonists seemed less refined and some of them lack the emphasis necessary to make them credible, leading the tale to stagnate precisely where it could have staged a real sense of conflict. There is a sense that the extremely friendly atmosphere throughout the series has gone a little too far. It does not mean that the game lacks interesting ideas, touching moments or engaging situations but it is phases that fail to amalgamate into a compelling narrative until the end.
Some characters boast particularly destructive new S-Breaks but the main change lies in the fact that certain antagonists can now use their Orders, a factor that stratifies the clashes a bit, making them just more complex when these orders will cancel ours. requesting a backup plan.
Rean’s berserk mode has evolved slightly: the protagonist can now unleash the full power of the curse that afflicts him, increasing his stats for three turns at the price of his sanity which will lead him to be uncontrollable for the rest of the game. as long as you don’t have a spell or tool that heals state alterations. A barrier that is far from insurmountable, it must be said, we would have preferred a more decisive impact on the use of this technique. Finally, fans of the series will be happy to welcome back to Lost Arts, the rare and incredibly destructive spells introduced in Trails of Cold Steel II that consume all of our EPs and can be used once per battle.
As you can understand, Trails of Cold Steel IV also recalls already known elements, as well as adding something here and there, presenting itself once again as the point towards which all the previous chapters converge, even outside the Cold Steel narrative arc. The combat system is therefore once again its flagship, despite the more simplified clashes, but in the phases, with the mecha, there is a decrease in quality compared to the third chapter: the emphasis on the use of objects has been accentuated and in general I sound good fights, capable of returning a certain climax, yet the prolonged attack and defence strategy pushes to boredom after a few turns, especially because being defeated is difficult. In short, they do not convey the epic sensation of being onboard machines considered divine.
Nothing to say about the progression system. Once again we are faced with a series of more or less large maps, not too complex but rich enough to keep us busy while we wander in search of trunks, mission items and anything else that may attract interest. Once the airship and the on-board computer are unlocked, then, we will be able to accept requests from any part of the continent. Backtracking is itself present, without overdoing it, in the form of special enemies to leave for another moment.
Speaking of minigames, Nihon Falcom certainly spared no effort and added casino blackjack, an amusement park, and an eye-catching clone of Sega’s Puyo-Puyo to the already substantial load of content in Trails of Cold Steel III. Just the fact of finding and challenging everyone within the story can be considered as an interminable or almost secondary mission. And then, from Vantage Master it is not at all easy to break away: in its simplicity, it is an engaging card game that recalls the glories of Gwent or Magic, although its structure is completely different.
A final note concerns the graphics and the soundtrack. In the first case, Trails of Cold Steel IV uses the same old engine and while the character modelling is a little more detailed, don’t expect huge steps forward.