The Legend Of Heroes Trails Of Cold Steel IV Review – The Ultimate Class Reunion

Trails of Cold Steel IV is a culmination of years of storytelling coming to a head, that feels fast paced despite the opening taking a couple of hours to go through watching all the cutscenes. It feels almost impossible to talk about anything in this game without spoiling a major plot point of the other games by accident. This game expects players to have played from Trails in the Sky all the way to Trails of Cold Steel IV and rewards players for it. While those too impatient are left in the dust as years of plot points come crashing together.

An Explosive Start to the Tale

Cold Steel IV starts nearly right after the events of Cold Steel III, and heavily references events starting from Trails from Zero. I’ll be honest: if I had decided to try and start at this point (although I don’t know why I would), I would have been confused. This introduction has so many references not only to the previous game but to characters and plot points that span years of storytelling.

It’s so overwhelming I could only imagine a new player screaming, “What is this series?” Although, I found it fun and players that have been with the series may get excited seeing some references to fan favorite characters from the past two arcs. Even if this does get tiring after going through what feels like an hour of cutscenes before getting to control a character.

This slow start isn’t that abnormal for the series but it feels more like a scene starting a mid way arc rather than an opening for a new game. It would have helped to either cut some of these scenes between game play segments or spread them out more evenly rather than dump the entire situation all at once.

Combat Reloaded

Combat is still the same as ever for those who have played any game in the series, but here is a quick overview of how it works. Each character takes a turn to either move, use an item, or hit an opponent, where players keep track of the turns by looking towards the turn order on the left. 

This turn order also has various effects that will trigger on that turn for the character that it lands on. These effects range from a guaranteed critical hit to a chance to instantly KO a target with a single hit. So, they are worth keeping track of and manipulating turn order by using S Crafts that will force the turn of the character in that instance.

The rest of the meters are pretty basic with CP being spent to use crafts while 100 CP is needed to use an S Craft, and EP which powers magic called arts for each character. Finally, BP or Brave Points are accumulated by getting a critical hit or breaking through an enemy’s defense and having an ally follow up with a basic attack.

These points can then be spent on powerful follow up attacks or on orders that have different effects and costs per orders. These orders are in fact where the most has changed when compared to Trails of Cold Steel III to IV, most notably the cost of most orders.

In the previous game these orders rarely cost any more than 3 BP and in fact, some of the better orders like Sledgehammer, which increases break damage to enemies, cost only a single point. This has been adjusted so that most orders especially from the intro now cost 3 BP and up. Which changes the balance as now orders cannot be spammed during a tough fight.

This slight change does add more tactical nuance to each encounter and forces players to think about their next move and when to execute an order. The balance is that now players can bank up to 7 points allowing players to spend points more freely instead of trying to save up for a powerful burst.

The Caveats of Combat

The final caveat to combat is a mechanic that is meant to add more challenge and offset the orders that can be issued. When a tough enemy, usually a boss, gets to a certain threshold they can use an ability that raises their stats and regains a significant portion of HP. This mechanic began in Trails of Cold Steel III but only gets more frequent here.

This mechanic doesn’t serve to make the battles that much more intense, instead feeling like a battle is being dragged out longer than it should be. Instead of feeling exhilarated that I managed to reach another phase of a boss I would instead groan as they used their instant regen abilities.

This issue is exasperated by the fact that this can happen multiple times in a fight if players allow it to drag on long enough. This simple mechanic can be frustrating and does require players to correctly time their S Crafts and other abilities to ensure that they can skip these abilities entirely.

Should You Go Back to the Empire?

So, once I beat the game, is there any reason to go back for a second run? Well, yeah a new game plus will allow players to bring over weapons, money, enemy data and other such bonuses that make a second play through faster. Not only that, but this will also allow players to obtain records and other such missable collectibles to go for the platinum.

However, this is a beefy title that a single playthrough watching all the cutscenes can take over 60 hours and over 100 hours for a complete 100%. This ensures that there is a lot of game for players to go through but can be exhausting especially if playing each title one after the other. Especially if combat doesn’t vibe with the player, it can make a second playthrough feel long even when skipping cutscenes.

A Great Game for Fans of the Series

Trails of Cold Steel IV is a great game, although one that is so heavily influenced by past titles that it makes starting with this title impossible. However, being an end for an arc that started in Trails from Zero, which is six whole titles worth of content, it doesn’t give much room for newer players to start. 

Although, having started from the first Arc of the series to now it’s definitely worth catching up with the games. This is a tall order as getting to the current game is going to be over nine games worth of content but the payoff is so huge that I couldn’t imagine starting anywhere else. While a recap can impart the most important details I wouldn’t have the attachment I do to these characters if I hadn’t played them myself and instead listened to somebody recap the entire arc. It’s a huge commitment but one that is worth every hour.


  • A large amount of content to go through
  • Plenty of fan service for dedicated fans
  • Combat is fluid and fast-feeling


  • Unsuitable as your first game in the series due to the constant references
  • Some bosses feel like they just drag on for too long

Very Good

Trails of Cold Steel IV is a fantastic way to end a story arc, however constant references to older titles may leave some confused about the current plot.

Estelle Mejia