The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV – Review
Follow Genre: Turn-based JRPG
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS4
Tested on: PS4

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Same classic gameplay, Great voice acting
Bad: Grinding can be annoying
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The Legend of Heroes franchise has become a monstrosity, even by JRPG standards. With over fourteen entries divided over various series and with several more spin-offs, this franchise has been alive and kicking since the 90s. The most recent nine games have been part of the Trails subseries, with us looking today at Trails of Cold Steel IV, the final part of the Cold Steel Arc. This game came out in 2018 in Japan but is finally getting an international release on PS4 this month. Ports for PC and Switch have also been confirmed for 2021.

Story

As is to be expected from a fourth game in such an arc, Trails of Cold Steel IV is not particularly good as a starting point for newcomers to the series. The opening cutscene takes a whopping twenty minutes to get through and beats you over the head with character after character you won’t know, if this is your first dive into the Legend of Heroes world. The names of important people, countries, and factions are thrown around with no context, which can be a bit confusing at first but is also completely expected. The game does helpfully provide the option to read up on the events of previous games in the main menu if you wish.

Starting right after the events of the third game, the Erebonian Empire is now on the brink of the largest military conflict in its history. Both new and returning characters must unite with other heroes from across the continent to stop what might quickly turn into a destructive war with the fate of the world in the balance.

Graphics

Trails of Cold Steel IV has lovely graphics, granted you’re into the typical anime look this genre has. The animation is smooth, especially in combat and the character designs are unique enough to set the game apart from others like it. While the 3D models can veer a tiny bit into uncanny valley territory at times, overall the style is more endearing than anything else.

Sound

In terms of music, there isn’t much to complain about either. The same team of composers from the previous Trails of Cold Steel games have come back to deliver one final effort for this concluding entry to the arc, which means the soundtrack sounds very similar to that of the previous ones. Besides this, the voice acting cast has also returned. You get to choose between Japanese or English spoken text and in both cases, the cast has put down a pretty solid performance, though the Japanese cast sounds more experienced overall.

Gameplay

Trails of Cold Steel IV returns with the same gameplay elements as well. Like most classic JRPGs, the battles are focused on turn-based combat used to complete small quests and advance the story. These quests often take place in a large area you can run around freely, smashing boxes and exploring to your heart’s content. When you encounter an enemy a battle is initiated, though hitting them from the back will grant you an advantage in the ensuing fight.

The battles themselves give every character and enemy their due turn to act. During your turns you can move your characters across the field, attack, use items or devastate enemies through Arts or S-craft techniques, which work like special attacks and consume EP. You also have the ability to use Brave Orders, which will not use up your turn and grant your team temporary buffs. The link system is also still in place, where you can link two characters together so they will automatically help each other out and can perform combat attacks. These links come with their own type of EXP, meaning you can level up a link to unlock even more combo moves.

In-between the combat you will spend time exploring the various areas as mentioned above, where you can sometimes engage in mini-games or need to solve puzzles. Upgrading equipment and characters is also a vital part of the game. It’s a nice change of pace from the (sometimes tedious) combat or if you just need a break from grinding for experience. With over 100 hours of gameplay, Trails of Cold Steel IV can absorb a lot of your time, with it also having the biggest collection of playable characters ever represented in the series. There are four difficulties to choose from, ranging from easy to nightmare depending on your skill level.

Conclusion

Trails of Cold Steel IV ties a satisfying end to the Cold Steel arc in The Legend of Heroes. Solid gameplay, great voice acting, and nice visuals all come together to form a complete package and while it might not be a good introduction for people unfamiliar with the series to the world of The Legend of Heroes, this is obviously not what it was intended to be in the first place.

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Jessica
Jessica


Games are my escape and writing is my passion.

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