It's been a few years but Rean is back and this time, he's leading his very own Class VII in one epic adventure so let's get to it.
If you're a regular visitor, you know that I try my best to put up fresh content on a regular basis so you may be wondering where I've been over the past little while. Well, I've been knee deep in Trails of Cold Steel 3, of course! As a huge fan of the first 2 games in the series as well as other The Legend of Heroes games, I couldn't stop playing this phenomenal RPG until I completed it and just a few hours ago, I did just that and all-in-all, it was one fulfilling and memorable journey.
Since the previous game, Rean Schwarzer became a renowned hero yet his status merely gets him a job teaching Class VII at Thors Branch Academy in Leeves. This school is an offshoot of the original Thors Academy and is apparently not as prestigious. Anyway, he soon meets his students including the unimpressed and brash Juna Crawford, the straight-laced Kurt Vander, and the robotic Altina Orion as well as Musse Egret who has a crush on Rean and the confrontational Ash Carbide. Needless to say, the chemistry between everyone is fantastic and their interactions range from entertaining to delightful to heartbreaking.
Even though the new class is great, Rean's old Class VII friends are back in the mix such as Alisa, Machias, Jusis, Millium, Gaius, Laura, Fie, Elliot, Emma and her cat Celine, Towa, Sara, Sharon, Claire, and Rean's sister Elise. You might assume that they're just background characters but as the campaign progresses, you'll actually end up with the majority of these folks in your party and can swap them out as you please which made me extremely happy. Anyway, one of my favourite new characters is Tita Russell who's actually from the Trails of the Sky series. Not only is she cute but she's a very helpful Orbal engineer who you can rely on to better your capabilities.
Considering this is the first current generation Trails of Cold Steel game, it looks absolutely fantastic with lovely character models and detailed environments. The audio is top-notch as well complete with a wonderful soundtrack, gratifying effects, and a talented voice cast. That being said, fans will notice some voice actors are different which took a while for me to get used to. I wish NIS America could have got the entire familiar voice cast together again for this project but it's not a huge deal.
Trails of Cold Steel III features a similar battle system to the previous 2 games although it has some very cool new features. For starters, you can issue primary commands by merely tapping the D-pad or face buttons to enter item and skill menus and such. Next, you can utilize Brave Orders which consume BP and provide a temporary boost for your party. One very cool mechanic is that you can Break enemies which can grant you a huge upper-hand. Finally, mech combat can now involve a party of 3 mechs along with support characters which adds a whole new dimension to Divine Knight battles. All of this adds up to one rewarding battle system.
Besides battles, you'll wander around large towns, the school campus, train cars, and camps while checking off a list of main and optional quests. The gameplay flow is similar to the original where you have field exercises, free days, and even an exam. Strengthening your bond with your students and other characters is great fun and watching the slice-of-life scenes is nothing short of charming.
After all that, you'll likely find yourself in a dungeon. This is probably my biggest disappointment about Trails of Cold Steel III because most of the dungeons are quite tedious with their repeated rooms and obvious yet protracted puzzles. Even when you have to guide 3 teams to reach a dungeon's goal, you merely just go through the motions until you're done. I wish there were more challenging puzzles and variety in the dungeons because as they are, it can make for a rather monotonous formula.
When you're not talking to friends or exploring dungeons, you'll find yourself taking part in a few fun mini-games. For starters, fishing is actually quite challenging this time around so filling out your collection of fish will be more difficult than it was in the past. Plus, you can play a brand new card game in the form of Vantage Masters which is fairly straightforward and you can challenge anyone who has an icon over their head to a game if you wish which reminded me of Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII.
Although I absolutely loved my time with Trails of Cold Steel 3, it definitely isn't a massive step up from the previous game in the series. On the plus side, this means that if you enjoyed the first 2 games then you'll love what's in store for you here but if you're looking for a completely fresh and exciting experience then you may be a little disappointed with what Trails of Cold Steel III has to offer.
Trails of Cold Steel III is a phenomenal RPG that genre fans need to play. After completing it and watching how it ends, I absolutely cannot wait to play the fourth and final game in this incredible series.
- + Same awesome Trails of Cold Steel formula but with some welcome twists
- + Huge cast of incredible characters
- + Loads of rewarding content to master
- - Dungeons can be repetitive and tedious
- - Not a huge step up from Cold Steel 2