Review: Trails of Cold Steel IV – Nintendo Switch
Credit: steamXO licensed under Public Domain
The Legend of Heroes is game developer Falcom’s longest-running series and has been going on for nearly two decades. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is the mainline title of the sage, which was first released for the PS3/PS Vita back in 2013.
Trails of Cold Steel ran for four games, and the last part, Trails of Cold Steel IV, was released in Japan last 2018. Falcom got NIS America to localize it and a translated version of the game was released for the PS4 in 2020. A port was later released for the Nintendo Switch just a few weeks ago. So, here are our thoughts on the conclusion arc of the series that sold more than five million copies worldwide.
Even though it still follows the story of Rean Schwarzer, half of Trails of Cold Steel IV is actually spent as the students he led back in Trails of Cold Steel III – the new Class VII. This is a good choice, as Juna, Kurt, Altina, Ash, and Muse were only briefly introduced in the previous game. Now, we’re given the opportunity to explore their hometowns and peek into their history.
Perhaps the real selling point of Trails of Cold Steel IV, however, is that it’s a game that exists not only to conclude the Cold Steel arc but the stories of its two predecessors as well ¬– Trails of the Sky and Trails to Azure. The main casts for both games are present and will assist the new Class VII in their mission to save their Rean from the enemy’s clutches. Trails of Cold Steel IV was, arguably, the best ending you can give to a main character that has done so much for his friends and country.
Like with any Legend of Heroes game, one of the biggest parts of the Trails of Cold Steel IV experience is its minigames. And while there are many, there were two that stood out in terms of both enjoyment and rewards – the casino games in Raquel and Vantage Masters.
The casino has a few games including blackjack and slots. They’re all fun but if you want to grind tokens quickly, playing Texas Hold’em poker is the fastest way to do so. The rules are simpler than most poker games, and according to this beginners’ guide to poker rules, Texas Hold’em is the most common poker format played. The goal is to make the best hand by using a combination of the two cards in your hand and five community cards. Texas Hold’em is usually played with up to six people, but in Trails of Cold Steel IV, you just play against the dealer. You can choose to double the rewards after every win. Many of the prizes are worth it, especially during early chapters where you never have enough money.
Vantage Masters is a card game that was introduced back in Trails of Cold Steel III, but the cards are way better now. Therefore, winning is much easier. According to this opponents and rewards guide, a complete deck will earn you great materials that will come in handy during the final boss.
The game’s resolution is much lower compared to its PS4 counterpart, but that’s to be expected from a handheld console like the Nintendo Switch. Everything else is much the same as any title from the Trails of Cold Steel series – from the turn-based tactical combat game to the passive buffs that you can trigger mid-battle. The only jarring thing about the battle sequences is how characters from the previous two games will randomly enter your party for one to two dungeons, which doesn’t give you enough time to grow and learn about their abilities.
The maps can be unnecessarily big at times as well, especially for lore-big regions like Crossbell and Heimdallr. Of course, turbo mode – which lets the game run at double speed –makes exploration faster.
Trails of Cold Steel IV is longer than the average RPG (around 66 hours for the main story alone) mainly due to the fact that Falcom wants to deliver the best possible conclusion to the series. A sequel, called Trails to Darkness, is actually in the works to tie up all loose ends. It’ll cover an unresolved plotline in the ending of Trails of Cold Steel IV.