A Review in Progress: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
This is JRPG royalty and if you're a fan of JRPG's and you haven't played this series you're doing yourself a disservice. 
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It’s not even been six months since I finished The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II. In fact, if you check out my review you’ll see I had it done back in June of this year. So when I had the opportunity to continue the adventure with Rean Schwarzer in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III how could I say no?

A reunion unlike any other

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III picks up a year and a half after the explosive climax of Trails of Cold Steel II. Everyone from Class VII has graduated from Thors Military Academy and have moved on all across the “great” Empire that is Erebonia.

Lead protagonist and Ashen Chevalier Rean Schwarzer has become a war hero and something of a celebrity within the Empire while also becoming something of a mythic figure outside of it due to his exploits during the annexation of Crossbell in the previous game among other things.

Rean has not quite come to terms with the changes in his life. From losing his friends to the revelations of his parentage Rean at the start of the game is at something of an impasse. What better way to overcome these issues than to become an instructor at the new Thors Branch Campus. That’s right folks Rean and the player have gone from student to instructor complete with your very own Class VII. This Class VII is something of a more intimate affair with only three students as opposed to the eleven that you bunked within the previous titles.

A new Class VII in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III?

Juna Crawford – A resident of the recently invaded Crossbell. She joins Class VII due to a recommendation from the Icy Maiden herself Claire Rieveldt. Her weapons of choice are specialised batons that can switch between two modes. One that specialises in close combat and the other in ranged.

Kurt Vander – The self-declared black sheep of the celebrated Vander family, Kurt is a young man unsure of where he belongs in the world. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t see himself worthy of the Vander name. However, his dual blade Vander style of combat is a hell of a style to be introduced into The Legend of Heroes franchise.

Altina Orion – If you’ve played the previous game Altina needs no introduction. The Black Rabbit has joined Class VII as Rean’s support and is still utilising the incredible power of Claoimh Solais. Throughout the game, she grows as much as her sister Millium, if not more so in my opinion.

Now you might be thinking, that’s quite a small cast of playable characters especially because by the end of Trails of Cold Steel II there were easily sixteen playable characters. Well, do not fret. Trails of Cold Steel III has a phenomenal roster of playable character each with their own unique abilities. Not only do previous Class VII members return but there are several favourites from the Crossbell and Trails in the Skies games available to play as. This further connects this story into the already well-established world and gives a true sense of expansion in this penultimate entry in this incredible franchise.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III is a game honed to a sharp edge

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III has once again stuck with the same gameplay style of previous entries. They haven’t reinvented the wheel but they have made it a far smoother ride. The gameplay is still fun, energetic and I adored it. It’s turn-based like previous entries but the team has done away with some of the old and brought in some new welcome changes. For example, there are battle points (BP) which you culminate as you fight, as your points rise you can perform combo attacks with your group.

That’s nothing new, however, there is a new feature that involves utilising the BP to create formations. These formations give the characters bonuses such as enhanced damage, higher defence, or my personal favourite Absolute Reflect. The strategy comes in handy when you have to decide when to use these formations as they have a set turn duration.

They can easily turn a battle around in your favour. It’s a welcome new feature. A returning favourite battle system of mine is the Divine Knight battles. They are once again a more leisurely affair but a new addition of partner Panzer Soldats joining Rean and Valimar in battle ups the anty in these moments of Gundam Glory.

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It’s the little things

My one concern with the previous Trails games has also been addressed in Trails of Cold Steel III and that is in the presentation. The previous games were not ugly, but they were very much imports. This time around however The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III is a PlayStation 4 title. From the opening animation, which is stunning by the way, everything in this game is upscaled.

One element I wanted to take note of was that the rendering of areas in the game is so much quicker this time around. The world looks so much better and it just helped me fall deeper into this story. I will say it still doesn’t come close to games like Final Fantasy XV or Kingdom Hearts III but ultimately that doesn’t matter.

It was the friends we made along the way

The world of Trails of Cold Steel III is a wonderful one filled with incredible individuals. With the deep and involved sidequests, you’ll become even more connected to every person in Thors as well as the cities and towns you visit. Then there are the villains and my god they are absolutely bonkers. Each one is more eccentric than the last and I loved them all.

If I had one issue/caution here it is this. Do not start with this game. You will be lost. Play the previous titles and reach this point on your own steam.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III is the penultimate chapter in a story that has been told across eight games and it is going to be concluded in the next game and frankly after being a part of this story I don’t know what I’m going to do once it’s all over. This is JRPG royalty and if you’re a fan of JRPG’s and you haven’t played this series you’re doing yourself a disservice.

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