The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III Review (Switch)

Published on June 25th, 2020 by Gervais D.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III Review (Nintendo Switch)

There are many games in The Legend of Heroes series. Thanks to NIS America, Trails of Cold Steel III gets to make its debut on the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo fans can finally get a taste of the action, but now for the real question: is it easy to pick up where the other games left off?

Story

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III continues the story where the second game left off. Ouroboros has finally resumed movement in the shadows while the branch campus of Thors Military Academy has been established as a fully-fledged military academy. The savior, Rean, has been appointed as an instructor of the branch campus. Rean, along with a few familiar faces, must help guide a new generation of upcoming heroes to victory.

The game is heavily story-based with a lot of character interactions and cutscenes. Cutscenes can be skipped, thankfully, in the rare instance of reloading a save file. English voice acting is also supported during specific parts of the game, although mostly during major events.

Is Playing The First Two Games Required?

Even though it isn’t required to play the first two Trails of Cold Steel games, it is better if you do and highly recommended as Trails of Cold Steel III continues the series’ story. Playing the third installment as your first will cut any nostalgia and familiarity you would have had with the settings and characters of the universe.

Cutscene in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
There’s only one way to find out what he’s going to do with the knife.

The first two games are not available on the Nintendo Switch (yet), which may be a problem for some gamers. The good news about the Nintendo Switch version of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III is that it includes a BackStory option accessible straight after launching the game. It aims at catching you up on the events that occurred in the first two games, so you won’t completely be left in the dark. Be warned that it’s a lot of reading.

Length Of Game

Without a doubt, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III is one of the longest JRPGs you may ever play. The game has several chapters, each of which takes at least 20-30 hours to complete. Each chapter maintains its length so there’s never the false impression of later chapters breaking this balance.

Gameplay

Trails of Cold Steel III doesn’t make any drastic changes to the gameplay formula. Rean and his companions will set out to complete quests, fight monsters and strong antagonists, and be at the center of a solid story that reveals more secrets about the series. Tutorials appear throughout the game and are short and to the point, perfect to understand the controls without being too overbearing.

Combat

Battles in Trails of Cold Steel III may seem similar to the generic JRPG at a first glance, however, there’s a lot more to it. Characters are given a variety of battle options such as Battle Orders for support, Crafts as skills that cost CP, Arts as magical attacks that cost EP, S-Crafts as their ultimate skills, Link Attacks, and of course, simple attacks that do not reduce CP or EP.

Battle system in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
Rean and his companions fighting against enemies.

Fights are turn-based and are normally stimulating but can sometimes feel bland. Actions are visually executed on the screen during combat with both long-range and short-range attacks. S-Crafts each have their own unique and extravagant animation, which can get tiring after repeatedly watching, but can also be skipped if it ever reaches that point. Some enemy attacks are capable of dodging because of their charge times and range indicators.

The Enemies

Enemies appear in the overworld similarly to a majority of recent JRPGs. Engaging them in combat is as simple as running into them, however, advantages can be claimed depending on how you proceeded. It’s also possible to avoid them if you’re in no mood for a fight. Keep in mind, though, that some are fully capable of successfully ambushing you. This can be devastating in some instances, therefore every move should be made with caution.

Enemy appearing in the overworld in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
You can avoid enemies in the overworld.

The game has a large variety of enemies and bosses to fight against. No area feels as though there are too many or too little of their kind. Bosses and mini-bosses have been spread out perfectly throughout the game and it’s always exhilarating or shocking on the first impressions.

Difficulty Modes

The game has five different difficulty modes to choose from – Very Easy, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Nightmare. If the chosen difficulty is too tough, it can always be changed through the settings menu. Losing a fight prompts the option to weaken enemies, which is good for people struggling with specific boss battles who do not want to lower the difficulty mode.

S-Craft in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
This is going to hurt.

The normal difficulty is usually the most attractive option for casual gamers; however, that’s far from the case with Trails of Cold Steel III. While common pawns are manageable and fun to exterminate, boss fights can be prolonged or may prove to be challenging. It will take prior knowledge of the enemy’s weakness to take advantage of and/or proper usage of 200 CP S-Crafts to overcome these worthy opponents. Otherwise, they’ll keep recovering their HP and laugh at your blade’s tickle.

Quartz Customization

Setting quartz is a vital part of the game — so vital, in fact, that it may even decide the outcome of battles. Quartz can be equipped to playable characters to enhance their battle performance and provide them with additional Arts. They are obtained throughout the game, can be equipped if the character’s unlockable slots are open, and can be leveled up to heighten in power.

Quartz Customization in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
Setting characters up with Quartz in the game.

Customization doesn’t change much when compared to the previous Cold Steel games. Its learning curve isn’t steep and there’s no surprise that this entry has additional quartz to choose from. Deciding which quartz to use on each character can be pleasurable to the strategic minds and the game gives you sufficient power to share them between characters.

Open-World Experience and Tasks

It’s not rocket science when trying to tell whether Trails of Cold Steel III is an open-world game or not. Movement through the world is fluid and nice, although positioning the top-bottom camera angle may take some time getting used to. It’s almost impossible to get lost with the game’s map, its breadcrumb trail backtracking, and how it indicates the locations to travel to next. Additionally, fast-travel makes it a breeze to get around quickly.

The game is generous with the number of playable characters at its disposal. The party leader is interchangeable with these characters once they’re available in the party formation and each is capable of using their own distinctive field attacks — some of which are more powerful than others. Besides the difference in power when attacking enemies in the overworld, the change in party leader gives off a sense of refreshment when exploring the different areas throughout the world map.

Misunderstanding cutscene in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
Oh no! What’s going on here?

As an instructor, duties must be performed. The game throws various tasks at you. Their completion is sometimes mandatory and other times optional. Completing the optional quests rewards you with better items to aid you during combat and sometimes, you’ll acquire costumes. The additional tasks boost gameplay hours significantly if it wasn’t already enough, and are in no way a pain to complete. The majority are simple and should help make you appreciate the beauty of the world more.

Other Activities

Besides moving from area to area and fighting strong opponents, the game has other side-activities to help make your playthrough more enjoyable. The most notable are Vantage Masters, a card game you can play with the other characters, and fishing. While fishing is common in most games these days, however, Trails of Cold Steel III takes it up a notch.

Vantage Masters Card Game

Vantage Masters is a collectible card game in Trails of Cold Steel III which is reminiscent of the famous YuGiOh card game. It’s incredibly entertaining and difficult to pass up on matches, seeing as it’s an optional activity.

The game revolves around the fall of the opponent’s Deck Master. Each card has a set attack stat and health, and can be summoned in exchange for mana. The lack of cards does not take away from the delightful experience to be had, and the loser must forfeit some of their rarest cards. This helps with deck building and the strengthening of your deck for future matches.

Fishing

Fishing is another side-activity to try, although not as fun as Vantage Masters. It’s a bit more than what other games have to offer and the prize is catching a variety of fishes to use as you see fit, besides the underlying satisfaction one gets.

Fishing in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
Take some time off to “catch a big one”.

After obtaining bait and finding a fishing spot, there are two steps to catching fish. The first will have you lining up a needle with the outer ring to determine a grade. The last and most challenging part is trying to reel the fish in while monitoring the tension of the line. It’s more of a challenge than it is a fun activity, but that makes it feel all the more rewarding when you finally reel in “a big one”.

Downloadable Content

The Extracurricular and Thors Academy editions of the game will include a Standard Cosmetic Bundle code to download a wide range of costume DLC to use while playing. It’s purely for aesthetic purposes and pumps a breath of fresh air into the game.

Cutscene in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
The Onion Head costume is something you just can’t get over.

Instead of lackluster uniforms, you can dress like an angel, a devil, or even a bunny person. There are a lot of costumes to choose from and surely several will pique your interest. Each playable character can make use of these costumes to shine brightly during cutscenes and dialogues.

Graphics and Soundtrack

The game’s graphics are fantastic for a Nintendo Switch game. The character models have been detailed exceptionally well and the artwork shows that a lot of effort has been put into it. There is no slowdown during battles, however, the game can lag (even though it’s rare) in certain areas of the overworld. It eventually following up with a loading screen that takes seemingly forever to end.

The soundtrack is undoubtedly good. It makes use of each of its tunes in fitting environments. The battle music is intense, as it should be, and can swiftly change to dramatic when in a pinch, which makes you feel as though each action taken is even more crucial to survival. Nihon Falcom has once again done an incredible job making music for yet another Trails game.

Conclusion

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III lives up to its The Legend of Heroes name with its complex battling system, engaging story, and endless-feeling chapters. Side activities are a nice additional touch and the downloadable content compliments the game in a new, fashionable style. It may take a while for new players to the series to get reeled in because of the overwhelming amount of information to absorb at the beginning, however, the probability of hooking you in and not letting go is high.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III gets a 9/10.

Gervais D.

About Gervais D.

Gervais is a Nintendo fan who loves to play a good game. His first owned Nintendo console was the NES, and he currently owns a blue 3DS XL.