|The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
|October 27th, 2020 (PS4), TBD 2021 (Switch & PC)
|PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
At the end of my Cold Steel III review, I said that I hoped I could eventually play the final Cold Steel game and finish this series of reviews. Well that time has finally arrived, here we are at the very last game in the Erebonia arc, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV. I don’t want to say too much because much like CS2, this fourth entry follows up on a huge cliffhanger. I know not everyone reading my review will have completely finished all three prior Cold Steel titles, and I would hate to spoil such a huge arc in the overall Trails franchise. Be aware that the official website linked above and the trailer attached down below do have spoilers for anyone not caught up to this point yet. Now with that said, let’s get into the review.
As I stated above, Trails of Cold Steel IV takes place right after the cliffhanger ending of the third title. Most of Class VII is teleported out of that situation and left resting in a brand new village not visited previously in earlier Cold Steel games. CS4 plays out a lot like CS2 did, and the progression and tasks of each game greatly resemble one another. Thors alumni and current students are scattered across Erebonia, and you’ll be searching the country looking for them, accomplishing tasks required for the overall story and doing various sidequests along the way. The initial village will be your home base for a good chunk of the game. Plus, you may find yourself returning often for certain quests and extras scenes between this game’s huge cast of characters.
If I’m being honest, Cold Steel IV didn’t hook me like Cold Steel III did. Cold Steel III was the first title in the second half of the Erebonia arc, and thus somewhat of a new start. But because of all the initial setup in the first Cold Steel, it didn’t require half as much time spent on character and world building. Not to mention, CS3 was the first Cold Steel game made initially as a PS4 exclusive. I was enamored with all of the mechanical and UI upgrades, new minigames and, eventually, the story once I got deep enough. Unfortunately, I don’t think Cold Steel IV has as enticing of a narrative. The “exciting” moments in the story seemed lacking in comparison to earlier entries. In addition to this, the progression pattern of going on a story outing, coming back for bonding events and then going out on a sidequest outing, over and over and over, grew old quick. The story simply wasn’t good enough for me to ignore the drag and be completely immersed and obsessed with getting further.
If you’ve played previous arcs in the Trails franchise, then you might enjoy this final entry a lot more than I did. CS4 brings together a bunch of people from both the Liberl and Crossbell games. There’s a lot for fans of the overall franchise to enjoy here. For those who have only played the previous Cold Steel games, it’s still a mostly fun adventure and more of what you love. You’ll get to play a ton more Vantage Masters, hang out more with everyone in Class VII, catch more fish all across Erebonia and more. It may not be as good as CS3 was in the story department, but you should see things through to the end and enjoy this arc’s conclusion. Should you complete the majority of the side content and somewhat rush through battles, this game will definitely take you at least one hundred hours from start to finish.
There isn’t a lot to say about the gameplay, it’s simply more of what Cold Steel III already established. You can check out my CS3 review I linked earlier if you want a refresher on what to expect, or if for some reason you plan on starting with Cold Steel IV and haven’t touched another Cold Steel game before. Personally though, I do not recommend that whatsoever. You’ll be pretty lost and definitely won’t appreciate the story as much as someone who at the very least has played CS3. Nonetheless, there is once again a backstory menu on the title page, with only the most important past occurrences gone over. When it comes to bugs or performance issues, I didn’t happen across anything significant. There were various typos yet again, but it was a lot less than last time. Oh and at the end of Act 2, some of the optional conversations and text with NPCs started stretching beyond the text bubbles. Other than those mentioned, I can’t recall any other issues. Atmosphere wise, again, it’s more of the same. I know I keep saying that, but it’s the best way I can describe Trails of Cold Steel IV, more of the same.
Ultimately, if you are an existing Trails of Cold Steel fan and you want to finish the story, you have no reason not to pick this game up. This is the ending you’ve been waiting for and more of what you love. If you’re only a returning Cold Steel III fan, you also might as well finish the story and see where Class VII ends up and what happens next. Despite not surpassing the greatness that was CS3, I had a fun time with Trails of Cold Steel IV. It’s a ton of content for the money and well worth playing at least once.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. A copy of your own will cost $59.99.