It’s incredible, really. The fact that the Trails of Cold Steel continues to be strong for so long is incredible. The really cool thing is that Trails of Cold Steel III feels has this sense of finality in it. However, once we start diving into the game, we realize that this is only the beginning of the journey for the new generation. We’ve seen Rean Schwarzer’s struggles in TOCS I and II. And now, he’s an instructor ready to see the new Class VII in action.
However, while fans of the series might get their fill by playing through the beginning of Rean Schwarzer’s career as an instructor; how will new players introduced to the series react to this? Will they love the game as much as the old fans do? Let’s find out the answers to these questions in this Trails of Cold Steel III review.
Thors Branch Campus Opens its Doors!
Trails of Cold Steel III sees the return of beloved Thors Academy Graduate Rean Schwarzer. The civil war has ended, and Schwarzer is branded as the Ashen Chevalier. Instead of seeking retirement, Rean becomes an instructor at the Branch Campus of Thors. In it, he’s met with the newly established members of Class VII: Special Operations.
The New Class VII consists of Kurt Vander, a swordsman from the disgraced Vander family seeking for personal growth; Juna Crawford, an energetic girl from Crossbell who basically loves acting like a Tsundere 90% of the time; and lastly, Altina Orion, the Black Rabbit that assisted us during TOCSII.
Alongside them, the new Class VII will be joined by the likes of Ash Carbide, a guy whose personality is being a dick towards Rean; and Musse Egret, a girl who constantly hits on Rean and makes every scene she’s in quite awkward. Together they form part of the new trash bin of a school that doesn’t have any degree of respect.
You think I’m being coy or rough? Yeah, that’s exactly how I felt when Principal Aurelia LeGuinn described the Branch Campus to us. So, you know, deal with it.
A Troubled School for Troubled Students
The thing with the newly established Branch Campus is that nobody really thinks highly of it. Rean is relegated to dealing with a bunch of troubled students (like, let’s not even begin with the mess that is Musse). However, the man doesn’t even mind and he accepts his role as an instructor of the newly established Class VII.
It’s natural that the new students will take a while to get used to. Especially for veteran players who are used to seeing the old members of Class VII. Yes, I can say with all the confidence in the world that the new Class VII can leave a bad first impression.
Everyone always treats Rean with a degree of hostility due to the role he took part in during the Erebonian Civil War. Juna is a great example as she doesn’t really like the way Rean fought against Lloyd Bannings and Rixia Mao during the Crossbell Geofront. As such, she will always act distant and sometimes downright hostile during her interactions.
However, as time passes, Rean’s influence will grow within the students and they’ll open up and become more reliable. Halfway through the game, I came to appreciate some of the things that defined these characters. Without spoiling too much, the New Class VII becomes really close and begins treating Rean with the due respect he deserves.
Of course, since Thors is a military school, that leaves Rean in charge of the exercises that Class VII will undertake. While his first assignments are just menial tasks such as finding a lost cat. The new Class VII members end up finding themselves in the middle of a large battle. As the player progresses through the game, the challenges Rean and the new Class VII must face become harder.
Unfortunately, all of it ends in a cliffhanger which will be addressed in Trails of Cold Steel IV. Phew, it’s cool that we are going to get the game on PS4 soon huh? Oh wait, that also means that we’ll also have to wait for the localization of Hajimari no Kiseki.
However, I’m pretty sure the player will enjoy the way the story is delivered… At least, I hope so because the story will be moving at its usual snail pace. Yes, Trails of Cold Steel III is not going to deviate from its usual method of storytelling. Which means that you’ll be stuck reading mountains of text between events. Not to mention, we’ll also be seeing the returning appearances of old Class VII members.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
That’s right, the members of the old Class VII will be assisting Rean through various points in the story. Thankfully, this won’t alienate newcomers as the old members quickly explain their relation to Rean. However, for those who are fans of the Trails series; this will be a welcome addition. Especially because it might be a bit hard to get accustomed to the initial roster of Class VII.
Since we’re discussing the characters that will be joining throughout the story; let’s address one of the biggest points of contention in this game. Trails of Cold Steel as a series focuses itself on explaining its lore and characters to an excruciating degree. Of course, this means that you’ll learn the most intimate details about students like Kurt and Juna. However, it also means that it will take a while to get the actual story going.
If you don’t care about how the story goes along and wish to invest yourself into the deeper parts of it like the lore; then Trails of Cold Steel III will definitely satisfy your needs. I’d say it’s like a much-improved version of Final Fantasy VI in which every character gets the spotlight and their relevance is shown to the player. Of course, if this isn’t the type of game you’d like to play and would much rather see the story moving along. I’ll tell you right now, this isn’t the series for you.
This game prioritizes the journey over the destination. So, we’ll treat it like that!
Tearing Our Way Through Victory!
So, since we addressed the characters and story aspect of this game. Let’s start talking about the game’s combat mechanics before Musse traumatizes me with her approaches. Trails of Cold Steel III uses the turn-based system used in previous iterations. This allows you to move around the field and position your characters around to avoid certain attacks.
However, the positioning is also important for range purposes as you can stand away from the enemy’s reach, making them waste their turn approaching you. However, this turn-based system also has its own intricacies that new players will welcome. Especially because it adds another layer of strategy while keeping things simple.
If you’ve read our last article about the demo, then you’ll know that all of the playable characters have two special skill pools to choose from. The first, being Arts, is when a character activates a spell that consumes Energy Points (abbr. EP) to attack with elemental damage. The other is Crafts, which consume Craft Points (abbr. CP) but are activated instantly.
It’s important to learn when to use Crafts and Arts to get the enemies to maximize the damage you deal.
Breaking Enemies and Ruining Their Day
Trails of Cold Steel III brings the implementation of the Break System. Using Crafts and Arts will allow players to slowly make the enemies reach a Break state which can delay their actions. Using the returning Link Attacks will also contribute to Breaking an enemy. Essentially, this is like a staggering effect that will let you break through defenses and get some extra items as a bonus.
Eventually, the characters will be able to also inflict status conditions which will help turn the tide in the player’s favor. Every single one of the interactions the players have with enemies is important and a single mistake can end up with most of the party wiped.
Of course, the enemies will also have access to techniques like this and will not hesitate to use them against the player. This game is no cakewalk and will tear away at new players if they are not prepared. Many of the more difficult foes will drop debuffs and status effects on your team with a frightening amount of frequency, requiring you to learn how to counter them effectively by using Supportive Arts or the newly implemented Brave Orders.
Brave Orders: Adapting Through Links
Trails III introduces a new way to spend Brave Points besides Link Attacks. The new feature Brave Order allows characters to execute party-wide orders for a specific number of counts or turns. Some of these Orders can actually become quite essential for survival against tougher foes. For example, Altina has an Order which lets her deploy a shield that blocks and reflects all kinds of damage against the party.
Brave Points can still be spent on Link Attacks. However, it’s important to learn when to use which resource. Burst Link Attacks are great for Breaking and possibly taking down a huge group of enemies (I’m talking 7 or above). However, you may want to use those Brave Points to use Rean’s Order Iron Will which increases the Defense of the party.
One of my favorite orders to use is Fie’s Order Zephyr Wing which reduces the delay of everyone’s actions by 50% for 8 turns. Additionally, she grants the party the Insight buff which lets everyone avoid attacks much easier. This essentially made some boss fights that would’ve otherwise done me in a piece of cake.
Fight, Class VII!
There’s a lot more I could be talking about regarding Trails of Cold Steel III. However, I cannot find enough words to describe how much I love this game. Veterans of the Trails of Cold Steel series will love the new combat additions while enjoying the new interactions with the members of the new Class VII. I also believe that any RPG enthusiasts who love RPGs like Final Fantasy X and Persona 5 will find something to love as well.
While this game does have its fair share of cutscenes that drag for a bit too long; I don’t believe that it takes away from the actually engaging cutscenes that make you want to learn more about the story and the world itself. Rean also does an excellent job at carrying himself as an instructor while still being the lovely dork from the past two games.
The battle system has been fine-tuned to become even more deep and strategic than before. The choices you make on the battlefield are crucial for a good battle and the enemies are not going to hesitate to provide you with a challenge.
The graphical and sound aspects of the game are as amazing as always. The minigames that the game runs you through are nice changes of pace. Everything about this game can engage new fans while keeping old fans with something to look forward to. We’ll end this class with a seal of approval from the student council.
What do you think about The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III? Do you agree with any of the points in this review? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Want to read another RPG review? Check out our review of Final Fantasy VII Remake.
The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel III
Veterans of the Trails of Cold Steel series will love the new combat additions while enjoying the new interactions with the members of the new Class VII. I also believe that any RPG enthusiasts who love RPGs like Final Fantasy X and Persona 5 will find something to love as well. While this game does have its fair share of cutscenes that drag for a bit too long; I don't believe that it takes away from the actually engaging cutscenes that make you want to learn more about the story and the world itself.
- The new battle systems add a layer of depth to combat
- Brave Orders are incredible ways to turn the tide of battle
- The game stays as challenging as ever
- The music is amazing much like other Nihom Falcom games
- The Old Class VII Returns
- Some of the New Class VII members can take a while to get used to
- The game can drag on in some segments