Reviews - Updated on April 3, 2022

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV is finally out on PC, the game set to close one of the longest and most epic story arcs in Japanese RPG history. How successful was the grand final and is it a final at all? Maybe just an ellipsis?

Anime heroes save the world again

In the review of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III, I described in detail the history of this unique series and the main plot motifs of the arc, which has been released since 2004 and is dedicated to personal and political conflicts in the empire of Ereboria. The main character, let me remind you, is Rin Schwarzer, who first studied and served, then seemed to stop the civil war and himself led the updated Class VII in his native military academy.

To say that the third part of the series ended on a dramatic note is too mild. Some of the familiar characters died, others seemed to be insidious killers and traitors, Rin himself was kidnapped, the emperor was killed, on the verge of a new civil war and even the end of the world, if an ancient curse comes true, which is already beginning to act changing flora and fauna. In this situation, Rin’s students from the new Class VII begin his search in an attempt to fix everything, stop and save.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 4: Обзор

You really care about the main character.

For beginners, from the outside, it looks rather ridiculous – goggle-eyed boys and girls in intricate costumes conduct banal dialogues about how important it is to unite and survive in this difficult hour; console the pathetic speeches of yesterday’s traitor, saying that he is not to blame for what happened and must pull himself together for the sake of Rin. And they brush away a tear, looking at how the kids play, – they say, it’s good that at least everything is in order with them in these difficult times. At the same time, after 10 minutes they can wash together and paw each other’s boobs.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 4: Обзор

The game is never about hentai, but there is enough fanservice here.

In general, everything is very Japanese, besides it is pathetic, banal and nothing is really clear – there are too many characters who remember something there.

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All memories are painted in such tones.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that the plot, which, due to the extremely dramatic plot, starts much more vigorously than in Trails of Cold Steel III, noticeably sags in the middle – we are forced to wander around the empire in an airship, explore and complete side quests before the story moves on farther.

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On the map there is where to roam, what to see and visit.

We say “Goodbye” to them. And goodbye is not for us

But the catch is that The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV is not a game for beginners at all. If you wish, you can study a separate section about previous events, but it is better to play the past parts yourself. Because starting your acquaintance with the series with Trails of Cold Steel IV, and then complaining about “banal” and “incomprehensible” is like starting to read War and Peace or a book series about the witcher from the end.

The comparisons are not random. Trails of Cold Steel is really a block, where the world, the characters, and numerous storylines are worked out in detail, which are woven into a complex tangle of scandals, intrigues, tears, nostalgia, friendship and romance.

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Humor is in order here too.

And only devoted fans of the series will be able to figure out this tangle, for whom it will not be difficult to figure it out. On the contrary, for them these “banal” speeches of the heroes, their meetings and memories are like a balm for the soul. After all, the authors put on the creation and maintenance of emotional bonds between characters who do not completely change their composition in each new game (as, for example, in Final Fantasy), but develop, leave and return for 17 years now.

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Remember them?

And it is in Trails of Cold Steel IV that almost all of them come together – here is the largest cast of characters, including both this and other arcs of the series. Here is a separate trailer about them:

But for fans, every meeting with familiar characters and the opportunity to play as Lloyd or, for example, Estelle is a name day of the heart. Just read the comments like “I’m 40 years old, but when I saw the characters Sky and Zero / Ao again on the screen, I squealed like a schoolgirl” or “I can’t even find words to describe all the delight that I experienced when I saw Estelle and KiA “. And how glad I personally was to see Yuna and Altina again …

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And Ash I also had something to say.

Fans don’t get bored

This is despite the fact that in addition to such fan sentiments in the scenario of Trails of Cold Steel IV there are objective advantages. Even in comparison with the eventful second and third parts, the number of dramatic and intriguing turns has grown here, as has the overall level of production. Yes, somewhere in the middle the pace of the story slows down, and even veterans of the series who want to quickly find out how everything will end will not like it.

But, on the other hand, this is still not a visual novel, but a big Japanese RPG, where you need to allocate time and space for grinding, and for exploring the world, and for side tasks that raise the reputation of the party. Moreover, it has become more convenient to explore – everything interesting is marked with different markers on the map. You can travel on a horse, there is an extremely comfortable fast travel system.

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True, in my PC version, the management of horses was almost buggy.

In addition, even outside of story events, we strengthen bonds between characters and participate in special events (social interactions, or Bonding Events) that reveal characters, continue and complete their personal stories – and this, believe me, is no less interesting. Moreover, it will not be possible to view all the events – you have to painfully choose who to follow more closely.

In any case, you will not be bored – Trails of Cold Steel IV has many mini-games, including the Vintage Masters own TCG, which has been worked even deeper this time, and the local version of the Puyo Puyo puzzle. Plus, mandatory for the genre of fishing, cooking and photographing attractions.

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The writers, as usual, often switch us between characters.

Renewal and return of the old

In terms of gameplay, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV is almost identical to the third part, so you can read more about the gameplay in the same review. In place and combat orders that give bonuses to the whole group, and connections between characters, and joint techniques, and spells, and the quartz system, and crafting.

Additional and combo attacks are activated if you press the right button in time.

Enemies are still more or less sensitive to various types of elemental, piercing, cutting and other damage. But the main thing is that they need to be stunned in time to get out of the most difficult situations.

The use of unique character spells, as usual, resembles a mini-cartoon.

Some mechanics have been improved. For example, unique powerful spells (Lost Arts) returned from the early parts. From there, chests with especially dangerous monsters migrated, against which only certain characters can fight – and as a reward they upgrade their unique combat orders. At the same time, now you are always free to return to chests that have not yet been opened through the laptop.

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Chests are always guarded by strong opponents.

In general, there are more elite monsters and bosses, and in general, in comparison with the third part, the complexity has grown – grinding on the “hard” and “nightmare” is almost mandatory. Some bosses have even learned their own battle orders. And this increased power of monsters is quite logically explained by the plot itself, namely the effect of a curse that brings the end of the world closer.

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The bosses here are terrible.

On the other hand, now right in the battle they are allowed to call on the help of combat mechs. And in general, battles on robots have become significantly more. And the limit of points for using combat orders in fights has also increased – this gives more tactical scope.

True, such a colossus can be called only once per battle.

Not modern but nice

The cons here have to be almost sucked out of your finger. Well, yes, the graphics and animation give a little mothballs, but for such a gigantic game in terms of content, this is not so important. Yes, even at the same time, the picture often slowed down on my laptop, but these are more problems of my laptop, and not of the port as a whole.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 4: Обзор

The game does not look super modern, but overall it’s nice.

Yes, there are storytelling sags and grinds. And with a huge composition of characters, it seems that someone is worked out better than others – and the uniqueness of many of them in battles is leveled over time. But that’s more of a quibble.

The fights may seem long, but you can always turn on the turbo mode.

In any case, Trails of Cold Steel IV is an excellent grand finale of a truly magnificent and very significant series for the genre, which causes a lot of sincere emotions among its fans. And newcomers who have seen enough of these tears and snot now might want to start their acquaintance with the Trails of Cold Steel arc.

As for the question asked at the very beginning, is it a dot or an ellipsis, then rather the latter. But we will know for sure after the release of the Western version of The Legend of Heroes: Hajimari no Kiseki – this game is designed to stretch the bridge between the old and new stories. There are three main characters at once, and Rin Schwarzer is just one of them. So we wait, we hope and we believe.

Pros: Dramatic and epic plot that closes the story of a great and very long series; increased level of drama and directing; many familiar and detailed characters from previous games; polished compared to the third part of the gameplay; not the most modern, but quite nice picture; lots of fanservice; excellent, as always, soundtrack; expressive voice acting not only in Japanese, but also in English.

Cons: the plot sags in the middle; at high difficulty levels, you need to actively engage in grinding; antediluvian animation.

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