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Review: The Legend Of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV – Impenetrable To Newcomers, But A Gripping Finale

Best in class.

Much like Koei’s Atelier series, Nihon Falcom’s Legend of Heroes games are some of the best RPGs that you’ve never played. Engrossing storytelling is one of the cornerstones of the RPG genre, and no other series exemplifies this as well as the Legend of Heroes. The story began with Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes way back in 1992, and has since been building an all-encompassing fantasy epic that most franchises could only dream of. The latest arc in this universe began in 2015 with the first Trails of Cold Steel, and now the tale of Class VII is receiving its conclusion with Trails of Cold Steel IV. It’s a fitting and satisfying final chapter, though one which feels a little over-indulgent in some respects.

The story picks up about two weeks after the enormous cliffhanger ending of Trails of Cold Steel III, and to be fair, it takes quite a bit of time before it reaches that same level of momentum. There are a few hours here of basically just raw setup, where painstaking effort is put in to ensure the audience is aware of where all the major players are and what their goals will be for the epic adventure to come. It all proves to be worth it over the dozens of hours to follow, but make no mistake, this is a long-winded narrative — perhaps a little too much. Considering all the plot threads left to tie up, it’s easy to see why the developers wanted to take their time to draw out the ending of the arc, but there’s a lingering feeling that some of the subplots could’ve been trimmed a bit to tell an overall tighter narrative.

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