I was surprised with just how much I enjoyed getting into the Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel series last year. I honestly didn’t expect to get that much of a kick out of a seemingly standard anime trope-filled JRPG series that up until a couple of years before I had heard nothing about. Then came the opportunity to review the third installment in the series, the first to be released on the current gen. Considering how long it’s been since we’ve had the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as the main platforms of play, it’s kind of crazy that it took Nihon Falcom that long to put a game out on modern consoles, but them’s the breaks.
Without a doubt, Trails of Cold Steel III proved to be an excellent game, one that definitely went a long way into proving that there’s much more to a game than it looks from the outside perspective. Its character development, bringing in a lot of baggage from the previous two games, admittedly, is incredibly deep, and I quickly grew to like Rean’s new crew now that he’s a teacher at Thors Academy. Given that up to that point I had only played about a third of the first game in the series, it was cool to see what the future held for the plucky team that in that game had only started their studies in a military academy, and how far they would eventually get by the third entry.
Then again, most of the weight ended up lying on the shoulders of the young protagonists introduced in Trails of Cold Steel III, for as unlikable as they seemed at first, especially Yuna, who’s not at all shy to show her emotions and belt out on her rookie homeroom teacher, Rean. But things eventually quieted down, everybody got to know each other, and for as convoluted as the events in the game boiled down to, the team got together and started nailing their assignments down pat.
Coming to a much more powerful console proved to be a great thing for Trails of Cold Steel III. Compared to the previous two games, it looked a whole lot better, not that those games were ugly to begin with. Character models were much more detailed and expressive, and environments definitely benefited from the extra horsepower. For further details, you can check out my main review from last year.
Taking into account that the game’s now available on Steam along with the rest of the entries in the series, it’s no surprise that it can look even better. The figurehead behind the revolutionary mod that revived the first version of Dark Souls on PC, Durante, handled the port of Trails of Cold Steel III, and it definitely shows, offering a bevy of options for you to mess around with and suit your game experience to whatever configuration you might be running under your PC’s hood. Bump up the resolution up to 4K or down to the lowest it can run, this game is extremely scalable. It follows the mold set by previous NIS America titles like Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana in terms of overall port quality, most definitely.
On the other hand, I did run into some annoying issues when trying to get the game to run properly on my home machine. For some reason, the version of Trails of Cold Steel III that’s available during the review period had the annoying glitch of not always fitting the image to my TV’s screen, which forced me to restart the game repeatedly. Then there are the options, which never saved between restarts. These are problems that no doubt will see patches by the time that this is officially out, even more so when every other game released on Steam in the series has had the same options menu as this.
If you’ve been following along with the franchise on Steam, you’ll probably be bummed by the fact that unlike parts 1 and 2, the saves from those games don’t carry over to this one in any way. For completionists, this means nothing carries from the previous game to this one, which might be a slight turn off if you’re into having games recognize things you’ve done in its predecessor. Then again, considering the generational leap that was taken for this sequel, it makes sense that your progress wouldn’t make that jump. Here’s hope something like that is in the plans for the eventual last entry in the franchise, but don’t quote me on that for a fact.
It’s always good to have more options to play fantastic but overlooked games like this on. Whether you’re getting into the franchise now like myself or are a veteran that knows every inch of the Legend of Heroes mythos, you’ll be good with whatever avenue you choose to play Trails of Cold Steel III on. All the bells and whistles of PC gaming aside, you’ll be in a pickle trying to find a better JRPG anywhere.