Developed and published by Nihon Falcom, Trails of Cold Steel IV is a traditional JRPG with a turn-based battle system, and players can use save game data from Trails of Cold Steel 3 to obtain a bit of extra equipment. The game kicks off with a tutorial segment that jumps right into the action and takes place two weeks after the events of Trails of Cold Steel 3.
Progressing through the early game, you take part in a few fights and are shown information on each attacking system that can be used, such as the Arts magic, which can be unique based on the type of Quartz given to the character in a way similar to Materia from FF7. Arts are the magical side of combat for attacking and supporting the team, and certain spells may take a turn to charge up but have better pay off, either it being a bigger range for the spell, or being able to have the spell damage in a line, hitting more than one target. Skills are based on the character’s main weapon choice, and they can have several ways to use them.
There are tonfa sticks that can double up as a gun, so skills like scattershot can be used, whereas the pure melee-based characters with dual swords or spears have skills that can either hit one target with a massive hit, or wide sweeps, dealing a decent delivery of damage to multiple targets. Each character also has an ultimate attack that can be built up during combat, and it will give the player a little animation of the move being performed with more focus on the character. These are intended to be saved for the harder encounters that you will come across or the fights with a lot of enemies in the way.
There is also a supporting character that can be swapped out with any party member, as long as it is done on that character’s turn, so having a character banked with full health, mana, and an ultimate ready to go is the method I went with here, swapping out a teammate that was on low health and at risk of falling in combat. There are many characters within Trails of Cold Steel IV, with appearances by characters from the past games within the series.
Thank you, Google for confirming that for me. The story was hard to get into as there were references to characters that I didn’t know existed, but what I was able to grasp while playing was Class VII is determined to recuse captured mentor, Rean. Knowing they will need as much help as possible, they try to convince past Class members Ash and Musse to join in the quest to save Rean.
The animation of the game is great. I love the character and monster designs, and seeing some weapons do an RWBY-type change-up during an animation, with a spear becoming a massive gun, or a robot companion fusing with the owner to make an epic suit of armour, it has high marks for the animation and character designs. There were a few issues I did notice with rendering in the environment, with the camera pan showing off a new area, and anything closer to the edge of the screen would lose detail as the center of the screen became the main focus.
The voice actors used for the characters were impressive. I noticed some voices right away, such as Matthew Mercer and Erika Harlacher. It has a good balance between text and audio lines. The main topics I found usually had some form of audio voice-over, as there is quite a bit of reading to be expected when interacting with characters in the world. The background music has a good blend in areas. You may be in the town of Eryn, for example, which has a piece of pleasant music with great use of the orchestral instruments, and each area will offer a range of musical backing to suit the mood that the story is going with.
There are many things to do from fishing to card games while taking a break from the fights, as well as exploring the towns that you and the party come across while adventuring. The main issue I had was jumping into a world and large plot storyline with no previous knowledge of the past games, so I felt left in the dark with what was happening, who were the key characters to the series, and what had started the events of the fight that was already happening when I started.
If there was a recap that was in the options either texted based or just a quick video of key moments from the past games, I think I would’ve been more invested in the world and characters if I knew the backstory behind it all.
- Action-packed tutorial to teach players
- Great animation for characters and environments
- Wide range of magic abilities and great ultimate attacks
- Great voice acting
- Series loyalty rewards with save data loading from the previous game
- No story catch-up offered, leaving new players confused
- A few rendering issues