The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel Arc has been going since 2015 whereas, the series as a whole has been going since 1989, if you follow it right back to the beginning. The PlayStation 4 version of the game came out October 29th 2019, after a little waiting, Nintendo fans of the series can see its release onto the Nintendo Switch on the 30th of June 2020. Being a fan of Japanese Role-playing games I took an instant liking to the art style, characters and theme right from the get go and wanted to dive into the game and its story, after a little research I found out that this game is a continuation of a big story and I thought to myself that I might be at a disadvantage, seeing as I haven’t played any of the previous entries in the series before. Though to my luck, the game offers players the chance to recap the whole series before diving into this new story which is a fantastic feature and saved my butt when it came to playing this entry.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 is a traditional JRPG with turn-based battles. It also comes with an added high-speed mode which allows you to travel around the map and go through combat quicker. The story this time around is a direct continuation of the previous two games and picks up half a year after the events of the second game. It is centred around the main protagonist Rean Schwarzer and his new students, while out doing field exercises they uncover a plot that further threatens their homeland and with a new generation of heroes and instructors, they must put a stop to it.
I love the combat in this game, even though the turn-based system is similar to what we’d expect from typical JRPGs, Trails of Steel 3 link system is a lot of fun and makes for some epic gameplay moments. You can link different party member together to allow them to aid you while fighting enemies when you strengthen your link bonds with characters you’ll become more in sync with one another in combat. Each character has his or her own crafts and S-crafts, these are moves that the player can use to give them the upper hand in combat or used to heal and boost other members of the party. The Combat was so flawless in this game that I’d go out of my way pretty much every time I saw an enemy just to level up and be able to use the combat features. There is so much to do in this game, you have your main missions quests, side quests, fishing, play cards with NPC as well as cooking to name a few. This all adds to the overall experience and further enhances the gameplay because there is always something to do. While travelling in the world you will come across random treasure chests that give you items, sometimes travelling can feel tedious but with the high speed feature it really helps with the overall time spent roaming around, though eventually you get given a horse that really helps with travelling across the big areas of the game.
Like most JPRG it’s all about levelling up your party to make sure they aren’t underpowered, giving them the right equipment to make them stronger as well as building up the bonds between all the characters. This can be achieved by helping them out with certain tasks or giving them presents as well as using them in your party and fighting alongside them. This is where most of your enjoyment comes from JRPGs because every little interaction builds to the story and helps flesh out the characters.
Graphically the game looks dated with grainy and pixelated areas. There are moments of wonder when you are performing your characters’ S-Crafts and watching story cut scenes but personally it just lacked that final visual flare that can be seen in other JRPGs. Audio-wise I was very upset that they didn’t have the option for the Japanese voice acting in the game, being a big Weeb at heart I was looking forward to the chance to play it with the Japanese voices but in all fairness the English voice acting was tolerable and I just had to suck it up and play it. The character designs were cool and there are plenty of likeable characters to get attached to so that’s an added bonus.
JRPGs come with hours of gameplay so you’ll have plenty to do, whether that be doing side quests, main storyline or building your relationships between the characters. There are plenty of large areas and dungeons for you to traverse through and on top of that, you’ll have an array of different monsters and enemies to keep you busy while doing so. Because Trails of Cold Steel 3 has loads of NPC to interact with and a deep continuous story you’ll find yourself sinking hours into it without wanting to put it down.
Docked vs Undocked
As with all switch games, it is a massive bonus to be able to play them wherever and whenever you can, which is one of the main reasons I love my Switch so much. While docked the game looks pixelated and grainy but when playing it on the handheld mode I feel like it gives you a more solid picture and makes the game run and feels smoother and cleaner. I enjoyed playing it on the big screen but to be honest I found myself playing it more in handheld mode, while on lunch breaks or while my other half was watching TV. I have to say, that the Nintendo Switch port for this game was perfect and ran without any issues. Apart from one occasion where the game froze at a loading screen and made me restart it, I lost about 2 hours of gameplay at that time which was frustrating. Trails of Steel 3 was enjoyable from the get-go but I honestly feel I’d have loved it a hell of a lot more if I had played the previous entries in the series.
As previously stated above I wish I could have played the other games in the series before this one to help get a better understanding of the characters and their story, even though the game does a good job at recapping the story for players like myself, it still can get confusing when coming across certain characters or having references made and not being able to fully understand them. However, this doesn’t make Trails of Cold Steel 3 any less of an enjoyable experience. The characters are awesome, the combat is fantastic and it just ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a JRPG. Unfortunately, you will find yourself sitting in long cut scenes where you’ll have to read through quite a lot of text which kind of pulls you away from the more enjoyable moments that this game offers and at the same time the lack of Japanese voice acting makes me sad but isn’t a deal-breaker. For the asking price of £53.99 on the Nintendo store, I do believe it’s quite an ask but in all fairness, you do get a solid game with an enormous amount of content. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 makes another solid entry to the series but in all fairness, it doesn’t offer much in terms of uniqueness to make it stand out from other JRPGS on the market. If you haven’t played this series before you might not even give it the time of day but I would highly recommend you do because it is a solid gaming experience, with likeable characters and engaging combat. For these reasons I’m giving The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 a score of 7 out of 10.
You can purchase the game here for 53.99.
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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
Rean Schwarzer uncovers a dark plot that threatens his homeland. To face their enemies, he must prepare a new generation of heroes as an instructor at a new branch campus and guide them towards victory.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 53.99
Product In Stock: SoldOut