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Kiseki/Trails Community |OT| Familiar faces~, Zemurian places—SPOILER TAGS OR DIE!

Sandstar

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,216
Voice acting brings a scene to life. I couldn't understand any japanese, but the voice acting in Zero and Ao were instrumental in making the cut-scenes in those games to life, especially Zero, with the rather lackluster translation. I don't think I'd like CS1 and 2 as much if it didn't have a stellar voice cast. Video games are more like movies, or tv shows (in that they're moving pictures) than they are books, and it just seems, to me, that voice acting goes along with moving pictures. There's a reason talkies basically killed silent films in a very short amount of time.
 

Jiraiza

Member
Oct 25, 2017
863
Rean doesn't lack person

It's always really strange to me that people describe Rean as a self-insert. The dude is his own character. You aren't defining who he is though your play. He isn't a Persona protagonist where you regularly are defining their personality yourself and often to be in line with your own. Choosing whose bonding events to see does not equal a self insert character.

I really think people conflate the idea of choosing who to spend time with during bonding events with this whole shallow self-insert/harem criticism. They are separate concepts even if they are often employed together. In this case it always seemed pretty clear they aren't though!
In anime fandom, at least, the term self-insert has kind of evolved (or devolved) to encompassing bland characters in general, and not the blank slates of yore. At least, that's the trend I've noticed. But if we consider that the bonding system is really just a system uprooted from visual novels with some added lavish for the JRPG format, and how they tend to feature a lot of "player" characters who are unvoiced with some semblance of a personality (or lack of), I can see why the criticisms leveled at Rean are what they are.

I can't totally write them off, though, because really, fuck harems. Who exactly are you pandering to by including a harem again? The only real answer I can think of is horny people who like to self-insert.
 

Yunyo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,567
It's always really strange to me that people describe Rean as a self-insert. The dude is his own character. You aren't defining who he is though your play. He isn't a Persona protagonist where you regularly are defining their personality yourself and often to be in line with your own. Choosing whose bonding events to see does not equal a self insert character.

I really think people conflate the idea of choosing who to spend time with during bonding events with this whole shallow self-insert/harem criticism. They are separate concepts even if they are often employed together. In this case it always seemed pretty clear they aren't though!
Being a self-insert doesn't mean picking everything about the character. It's a reference to a common character design in light novels / manga / anime where the main character is a god character whose only weaknesses are being "too good of a person". Common links to this design include "having tons of friends, but feeling alone" and being the world's #1 psychologist.

It's really something that becomes more prominent the more media you read. Falcom was very clearly intentionally targeting the market of people that like that sort of design; it's something that becomes even more apparent with the Japanese voice acting.
 

Eppcetera

Member
Mar 3, 2018
525
I do think that making Rean silent at times is a deeply strange idea, and does contribute to the self-insert complaint. Why is he silent when other people are talking? Why didn't NISA fix that, the way Xseed did. Friggin' fidelity to the original.
Xseed didn't add voice acting for Rean in the Vita/PS3 versions of Cold Steel 1 and 2, so NISA hasn't really done anything different than Xseed at this point. If Cold Steel 3 gets ported to PC and doesn't have additional voice acting, then NISA would not be matching Xseed's precedent. Personally, I'm happier that NISA has added a turbo mode, since I honestly do not care about Rean having less voice acting (I read much faster than people speak and I almost never listen to an entire voiced line, if I have the option of skipping to the next line of text as soon as I want).


Being a self-insert doesn't mean picking everything about the character. It's a reference to a common character design in light novels / manga / anime where the main character is a god character whose only weaknesses are being "too good of a person". Common links to this design include "having tons of friends, but feeling alone" and being the world's #1 psychologist.

It's really something that becomes more prominent the more media you read. Falcom was very clearly intentionally targeting the market of people that like that sort of design; it's something that becomes even more apparent with the Japanese voice acting.
Rean sort of seems like two characters to me. One has something of a personality and appears in the game's regular cutscenes. The other is more like you describe and appears in the bonding events (and nowhere has his lack of personality been more apparent than in most of the romance scenes at the end of Cold Steel 2). Most of Rean's interactions with Class VII are incredibly one-sided, in that the scenes focus on the non-Rean character's passion or quirk (Gaius with art, Elliot with music, and so on) but the scenes are always especially memorable since Rean lacks a passion/quirk of his own to bounce off of the other character (i.e., Rean would seem like more of a person and not a self-insert if he was completely tone-deaf and embarrassed himself with Elliot). I don't think this type of blandness is as noticeable in a series like Persona, with a silent protagonist, but it definitely stands out with Rean, given how much more personable the other characters and previous protagonists like Estelle are. Estelle, in contrast, definitely engages with the Sky cast with a lot more personality (i.e., she butts heads with Josette because the two are similar and like the same person, and she babies Tita since she thinks the latter is really cute). I like Rean well enough in the main scenario, but the bonding event Rean is lame and boring.
 
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Sandstar

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,216
Xseed didn't add voice acting for Rean in the Vita/PS3 versions of Cold Steel 1 and 2, so NISA hasn't really done anything different than Xseed at this point. If Cold Steel 3 gets ported to PC and doesn't have additional voice acting, then NISA would not be matching Xseed's precedent. Personally, I'm happier that NISA has added a turbo mode, since I honestly do not care about Rean having less voice acting (I read much faster than people speak and I almost never listen to an entire voiced line, if I have the option of skipping to the next line of text as soon as I want).
Well, the PS4 versions, the system CS3 is native to, has the additional voiced dialog, so no, they're not following Xseed's precedent, which is the PS4 version gets the additional dialog.
 

Jannyish

Member
Dec 16, 2017
248
Rean doesn't lack person

It's always really strange to me that people describe Rean as a self-insert. The dude is his own character. You aren't defining who he is though your play. He isn't a Persona protagonist where you regularly are defining their personality yourself and often to be in line with your own. Choosing whose bonding events to see does not equal a self insert character.

I really think people conflate the idea of choosing who to spend time with during bonding events with this whole shallow self-insert/harem criticism. They are separate concepts even if they are often employed together. In this case it always seemed pretty clear they aren't though!
I mean, that's why I don't think of him as a proper self-insert character like, say, Link. But he definitely is leaning towards that direction. He is written in a way where whilst you may not always agree with his lack of emotions, you can't really dislike him cause he never really does anything that would actually go against what the player would do or say in any given situation.

Yes, I realize I am complaining about him, but it's more the fact that he is written in a boring way, so as to not offend any player. But as such, I can't really dislike him as a person, you know? He's a good guy, just not very realistic.

Long story short: He is a self-insert character in that his only character trait is being nice and getting along well with everyone/being liked by everyone (except for when the writers had their 5 crazy minutes and had him make a snarky comment). That is not... A very deep personality to have, and as such I do think is meant to invoke self-inserting on the side of the Player.
I do think that making Rean silent at times is a deeply strange idea, and does contribute to the self-insert complaint. Why is he silent when other people are talking? Why didn't NISA fix that, the way Xseed did. Friggin' fidelity to the original.
You see, I always thought it was deliberate. In order to add to the feeling of self-insertion. Now, people in this thread corrected me by pointing out that the lack of his lines is simply due to his voice actor being too expensive... However I still think that's only part of the reason.

Cause, now I don't remember where I heard or read that, so correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Xseed DID want to add more voiced lines for Rean even in the original releases OF CS1/2, but Falcom didn't allow it. Now... If your publisher says they are gonna pay a voice actor to do more lines, then why would you refuse that other than thinking it might change the way you intended the game to be experienced? Now, I don't know what Xseed did to eventually make them agree to it, but in an interview Sean Chiplock said even now for CS3, they had to adhere to the Japanese original again, meaning Rean ain't gonna talk sometimes when he totally could have in English. That... Makes no sense unless there is a specific reason Falcom doesn't want him to talk too much.
 

Eppcetera

Member
Mar 3, 2018
525
Well, the PS4 versions, the system CS3 is native to, has the additional voiced dialog, so no, they're not following Xseed's precedent, which is the PS4 version gets the additional dialog.
Xseed added more voiced dialogue for ports of Cold Steel 1 and 2. Cold Steel 3 on PS4 is not a port, unlike Cold Steel 1 and 2 on PS4.
 

PK Gaming

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,131
Thank you for the spoiler free review of CS4. I have to say that I do find certain aspects problematic, but the review just made me even more excited to plays cs3 and 4. Hopefully, we'll get cs4 next year, as I'm sure NISA is already working on it.
No problem. Cold Steel IV got a lot of hyperbolic and disingenuous reviews so I figured I would offer a more even-handed view of the game. There's more I want to say about it, though those will naturally involve spoilers.

I know the former wouldn't work within a game like this. But then I would have preferred for them to go for the latter. This guy is such a goody-two-shoes it's annoying. I mean at least the other characters recognize and adress that fact, but it still does little to make it better. The most infuriating part to me was, when Rean WAS finally portraying genuine character and emotions (aka when he was being snarky every once in a while, or when he was being reasonably mad at other characters), he would APOLOGIZE FOR IT soon after (OK not for the snarky part, but you get my drift). It would make me so angry, like WHY would you apologize when they made the mistake? You are NOT at fault here so stop acting like you are just because you wanna make sure the player doesn't disagree with you cause I SURE AM DISAGREEING RIGHT NOW.
That's the character though. He never wants to offend or upset people. Never wants to really stay mad or get into with it against someone else, because he always feels like he's in the wrong somehow. It's a complex that results from his upbringing, and the game never treats it as a natural thing.








If anything, his willingness to take the blame even if he is not responsible and sometimes even clearly knows he isn't, but still refuses to be mad at the people who are for more than 5 minutes, makes him super unrelatable to me. No actual person would behave like that, not to such an extent.
You would be right if the games treated it as an admirable thing, but they never do. Characters often mention that he looks like he's seriously in pain, that he's constantly bothered by something. It's something he himself admits as well in CS2's epilogue.
 
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Jiraiza

Member
Oct 25, 2017
863
Now, people in this thread corrected me by pointing out that the lack of his lines is simply due to his voice actor being too expensive...
I don't really know how true this is, because the cast has a pretty stacked list of VAs as it is. There's no way Uchiyama is prohibitively more expensive than them that warrants just hiring him for only the main story. I'm going to chalk it up to Falcom being poop. I'd be more inclined to think it's the influence of visual novels in how they tend to never voice their MCs.
 

PK Gaming

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,131
Re: Rean voice

I don't think it just has to do with the seiyuu's cost (especially since he's far from high profile). It's the simple fact that Rean has the most lines in the game and voicing them would be time-consuming

Re: Self-insert status

I can see why people make the argument. Rean has a lot of archetypical traits that make him similar to light novel protagonists. A special power, harem, being self-sacrificing, but I feel like that's pretty much where the comparisons end. For one, modern light novel protagonists are incredibly bitter and cynical, and are often self-sacrificing in spite of their grouchy attitude. There's even been a trend towards LN protagonists who are convinced the world is out to get them and are cruel and morally repugnant, but that's a discussion for another day. The point is, Falcom used those traits to make him appeal to players more, but they don't define his character.

They very clearly tried to make him his own character, with his own set of wants, a textured backstory and specific psychology that defines his character. The problem is that his character doesn't really shine during most of the first 2 games. Rean spends of his time as a mediator (CS1), which isn't that interesting. Estelle also has a set of archetypical personality traits, but her journey makes the most use out of it considering it plays well with his character. Lloyd too, and his burning passion and shonen tendencies play well with being a detective who breaks metaphorical (and literal) barriers. But Rean? Is just a student, and his characterization doesn't particularly enhance that when it's such a basic setup. It's only when his character transitions into being a military officer and eventually teacher where his character starts to shine the most, which is why people take to him more in CS3.

To put it another way, the pieces have always been there but they weren't properly utilized until the end of CS2 and on.
 

SaberVS7

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,831
Well, almost finally done with CS2 in time for CS3, but holy shit this epilogue (Everything after the JPOP song plays) is absurdly long. Basically spent my entire free-time yesterday just going through it and still not done yet.

...And it's all still hitting me in The Feels even though a lot of this stuff got spoiled for me years ago ;(
 

Mivey

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,925
I think the worst is to have one person in a scene talk, and the other be silent. That's just takes me out of the experience. Falcom's current way of doing it is an attempt to eat your cake and have it too. Either be able to pay for the VA all the the time, or just reduce the VA overall to match it.
 

dojo32161

Member
Sep 4, 2019
62
Well, almost finally done with CS2 in time for CS3, but holy shit this epilogue (Everything after the JPOP song plays) is absurdly long. Basically spent my entire free-time yesterday just going through it and still not done yet.

...And it's all still hitting me in The Feels even though a lot of this stuff got spoiled for me years ago ;(
Don't forget to check out the NG+ only scene on YouTube if you haven't already.
 

Korigama

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,238
You see, I always thought it was deliberate. In order to add to the feeling of self-insertion. Now, people in this thread corrected me by pointing out that the lack of his lines is simply due to his voice actor being too expensive... However I still think that's only part of the reason.

Cause, now I don't remember where I heard or read that, so correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Xseed DID want to add more voiced lines for Rean even in the original releases OF CS1/2, but Falcom didn't allow it. Now... If your publisher says they are gonna pay a voice actor to do more lines, then why would you refuse that other than thinking it might change the way you intended the game to be experienced? Now, I don't know what Xseed did to eventually make them agree to it, but in an interview Sean Chiplock said even now for CS3, they had to adhere to the Japanese original again, meaning Rean ain't gonna talk sometimes when he totally could have in English. That... Makes no sense unless there is a specific reason Falcom doesn't want him to talk too much.
IIRC, the reason for Falcom not approving it back then was because they were the ones who did the programming for each voiced line themselves one-by-one during the localization process, which would've meant more work for them if they were to add parts that weren't voiced in the JP version. By comparison, XSeed developed the PC ports themselves and had more freedom to do what they wanted.
 

TheMrPliskin

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,997
I finally finished 3rd in time for CS3. A few months back I didn't expect to get caught up by CS3 so I'm glad that I ended up managing to pull it off literally minutes before my copy of CS3 arrived yesterday.

I didn't feel much of a draw to put together any thoughts as I went since I would've just been repeating a lot of the same things I'd said about the first two games. Now that I'm done though I figured I'd pull together my thoughts to close the book on the Sky trilogy.

I'll start with my only gripe and say that I wasn't a fan of the structure of this game. I'm a sucker for JRPGs that are all around setting out on an adventure and the first two games of the trilogy really nailed that, so it was a shame to see that dropped for 3rd. I often found my brain switching off when it came to the downtime between Doors/cutscenes because I just didn't care about exploring the various planes.

Thankfully all of the story stuff definitely delivers and more importantly the game fleshes out the world some more, as well as some of the cast. Kevin is obviously the star of the show, with the slow reveal of his backstory being extremely well handled and adding a real shot to the arm of a story that could've easily been a predictable slog. I remember thinking that Kevin was so clearly putting on a front during SC, so I enjoyed seeing the game picking up on that and explaining why that's the case.

Outside of Kevin I think my other favourite character in 3rd ended up being Tita, which came as a huge surprise. Tita was the character in the previous games that was the most underdeveloped and while SC kind of gestured towards the idea that she feels weak it never picked up on that. Which is why I was overjoyed to see that 3rd picked up on that point and actually expands upon it and uses it to give her a nice little arc.

Sort of a shame that some of my favourites from the last two games didn't get much focus, like Agate. Though I get why that's the case and I do prefer that other characters got their time to shine.

Some quick highlights from the game:

Star Door 8 - When doing the door that's focused on Kloe's time at the academy I completely blanked on who the hell Lechter was. I realised he was clearly meant to be somebody important as he got his own portrait, I just didn't make the connection.

Then we get to this door and the second Lechter showed up I damn near fell off my chair once I clocked who he was. I then almost fell off my chair again when Osborne just showed up. Even knowing what this scene was building towards and how it would play out I still found myself on edge the whole time.
In general 3rd felt like a real treat coming from the CS games due to the fact you can see the foundations being built for those games. This door in particular just really hit that home and kicked my hype for CS3 up a notch.

Josette - I think she's still a fairly weak character but I specifically thought it was great that she's the only person who's consistently worried about their predicament and questions if they'll even be able to get home. It wouldn't make much sense for her to be totally fine and I liked that the game acknowledged that she's extremely out of her element here compared to everybody else.

Music - I know people absolutely love a lot of the music in various Falcom games but none of the soundtracks have ever really grabbed me. I tend to like a handful of tracks more than the entire soundtracks. That definitely wasn't the case here though, they pulled in all the right old tracks at the right moments and the new songs were all bangers.

The Colonel - This ongoing gag with Richard was extremely good. It was also just really surprising to see the game pick up with him and flesh him out a little further.

Overall it might be my least favourite of the Sky trilogy but it's still a great epilogue to FC/SC and prologue to the rest of the series.
 

Jannyish

Member
Dec 16, 2017
248
No problem. Cold Steel IV got a lot of hyperbolic and disingenuous reviews so I figured I would offer a more even-handed view of the game. There's more I want to say about it, though those will naturally involve spoilers.



That's the character though. He never wants to offend or upset people. Never wants to really stay mad or get into with it against someone else, because he always feels like he's in the wrong somehow. It's a complex that results from his upbringing, and the game never treats it as a natural thing.










You would be right if the games treated it as an admirable thing, but they never do. Characters often mention that he looks like he's seriously in pain, that he's constantly bothered by something. It's something he himself admits as well in CS2's epilogue.
Re: Rean voice

I don't think it just has to do with the seiyuu's cost (especially since he's far from high profile). It's the simple fact that Rean has the most lines in the game and voicing them would be time-consuming

Re: Self-insert status

I can see why people make the argument. Rean has a lot of archetypical traits that make him similar to light novel protagonists. A special power, harem, being self-sacrificing, but I feel like that's pretty much where the comparisons end. For one, modern light novel protagonists are incredibly bitter and cynical, and are often self-sacrificing in spite of their grouchy attitude. There's even been a trend towards LN protagonists who are convinced the world is out to get them and are cruel and morally repugnant, but that's a discussion for another day. The point is, Falcom used those traits to make him appeal to players more, but they don't define his character.

They very clearly tried to make him his own character, with his own set of wants, a textured backstory and specific psychology that defines his character. The problem is that his character doesn't really shine during most of the first 2 games. Rean spends of his time as a mediator (CS1), which isn't that interesting. Estelle also has a set of archetypical personality traits, but her journey makes the most use out of it considering it plays well with his character. Lloyd too, and his burning passion and shonen tendencies play well with being a detective who breaks metaphorical (and literal) barriers. But Rean? Is just a student, and his characterization doesn't particularly enhance that when it's such a basic setup. It's only when his character transitions into being a military officer and eventually teacher where his character starts to shine the most, which is why people take to him more in CS3.

To put it another way, the pieces have always been there but they weren't properly utilized until the end of CS2 and on.
You know what? You're both right. For one, yes, the game never treats it as admirable or even normal. I mentioned that in my original post, too, but I said that that doesn't make it much better for me.

Now why is that? Why does it bother me so much when it clearly bothers the other characters too - I shouldn't be feeling like this when the game clearly addresses the issue. I thought about that.


I came to the conclusion it is because it never gets resolved. They never go anywhere with it. Yes, the characters criticize him for it, but what's the point of that when that changes literally nothing?! This is an RPG, so for God's sake, don't only point out flaws of a character and then just never develop him... Rean starts out like this in CS1 and nothing changed significantly by the end of CS2, aside from him at least realizing the problem himself - but he hasn't really changed it. He forgives Claire too easily even in the last few hours of the game, imo. So I think the fact that I hate it so much is because of that.

But then I realize I am not being fair cause his story isn't over. He has two more games to get over that behavior, and I hope he does. The beginning of CS3 has me optimistic at least.

I think the worst is to have one person in a scene talk, and the other be silent. That's just takes me out of the experience. Falcom's current way of doing it is an attempt to eat your cake and have it too. Either be able to pay for the VA all the the time, or just reduce the VA overall to match it.
Yeah that just takes you out of the expe, I agree. You expect there to be voice acting or not, not this 50-50 deal. I'd rather they not voice a scene at all than voice it only halfway...

IIRC, the reason for Falcom not approving it back then was because they were the ones who did the programming for each voiced line themselves one-by-one during the localization process, which would've meant more work for them if they were to add parts that weren't voiced in the JP version. By comparison, XSeed developed the PC ports themselves and had more freedom to do what they wanted.
Hmmm that makes sense. Though I don't see what kind of line programming they really would have to do for the original localization. I don't know how game programming works at all, so I might be wrong, but if in the original localization Japanese lines = English lines, all they really had to do is replace the reference file in the code, isn't it? That doesn't sound like much work compared to programming the command to play a line of dialogue where there wasn't one before.

... Then again, when I think about how long the game is, maybe it is a lot of work. Not very hard. But very time consuming xD.
 

Chaosblade

Resettlement Advisor
Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,174
Hmmm that makes sense. Though I don't see what kind of line programming they really would have to do for the original localization. I don't know how game programming works at all, so I might be wrong, but if in the original localization Japanese lines = English lines, all they really had to do is replace the reference file in the code, isn't it? That doesn't sound like much work compared to programming the command to play a line of dialogue where there wasn't one before.

... Then again, when I think about how long the game is, maybe it is a lot of work. Not very hard. But very time consuming xD.
Also consider that Falcom is a tiny company, and every man hour committed to localization programming is a man hour lost from their new game development.

As far as I know they did do the localization programming for the PS4 versions, so it's probably just a matter of whether they can spare the time or not. It's possible NISA might have inquired about adding more voiced lines and Falcom shot it down like they did with XSEED the first go around. I'm not convinced it's likely unless they come out and say that happened, but it's possible.
 

Magic Kaito

Member
Oct 25, 2017
795
I recently experienced the entirety of Cold Steel IV, so I figured I should share my thoughts and critique it.

Now, I realize the absurdity of reviewing the 4th game before the 3rd game is even out in the West, but I figured people would appreciate a review from someone who doesn't intend to dive into headfirst into hyperbole. If I don't get it out of the way now, I'll never be able to share my thoughts on it after Cold Steel III drops. So with that said, let's get into it.

Spoiler Free Impressions (THE BAD)

Let's change things up and start with the bad.

1) The game's OST

Falcom games are known for their stellar, often god-level soundtracks, and while Cold Steel IV still manages to have many stand-out tracks, it's also inundated with songs I straight up don't care for. This goes beyond the juvenile "Singa = bad" takes, the OST just isn't consistently amazing like with the previous games. It's far from bad, but there are too many songs that don't grab me like the rest of the series, which is a big disappointment since it's the grand finale.

2) The size of the main cast

Compared to other Kiseki games, Cold Steel is infamous for its absurdly large cast, which can lead to many scenes devolving to characters simply talking one after another. Cold Steel IV takes that aspect to eleven with the main cast size being downright vulgar, with a whopping 15+ characters being present during major story scenes. Fortunately, the developers must have realized this because they eventually lean on the "bring a few characters to missions" structure that worked for Cold Steel II, but even that sometimes ends up being too much. The large cast size has a side effect of making the main cast feel annoying at times since there are moments where many characters will comment on something as absurdly mundane as a character's outfit. One. After. Another. It does eventually let up fortunately, and the game's final act actually manages to leverage it's absurdly large cast, but it's a consistent problem during act II and on.

3) The harem elements

You know, I've never been a fan of the "sksks Cold Steel is a harem" claims that people used to love making about the previous games. They were always an incredibly transparent attempt at dismissing the game, conflating a basic as hell romance system (that's literally no different than Persona or Mass Effect) just so they can get on their soapbox and moralize about the lack of canon ship. We get it, you loved Estelle x Joshua (I loved it too) but they decided to go in a different direction, so deal. Where am I going with this? Well, unlike the first three games, Cold Steel IV is actually, undeniably a harem game. The way this game handles romance is really bad and distracting. For some ungodly reason, the first bond event for every single female character is romantic in nature. If you want to even attempt to have a platonic relationship, you need to skip their first ones to do so, which is jarring. Worse still, these characters go out of their way to reference being in love with Rean AND other people being in love with him.

This is unfathomable to me. Just about every romance system in existence has operated on the assumption that these romances exist in a vacuum. That's what gives them their appeal since they're so personal in nature. Cold Steel IV didn't get the memo because the romance devolves basically devolves into harem wars. There is also a cruel irony in that, Cold Steel IV unambiguously has the best bond events by a significant margin, so you're missing out on terrific bond events by skipping out on them. So yeah, it's a bum deal. The best experience would be to focus on the character your choosing first and ignore the others (which will automatically make the other bond events platonic). There's more I want to say here, but I will need to elaborate in the spoiler elements.

4) The game is stuffed with too much content.

Cold Steel IV is a game with too much. Too many characters, too many events, too many quests, too much everything. It also experiences bouts of extreme repetition (ala CS2) and leads to the game having mediocre pacing (perhaps the worst in the series). Act II in particular largely being a waste of time, and it's kind of exhausting to experience. And this is coming from someone who absolutely adored Cold Steel II and its "open-ended" second act. It's baffling that they decided to stretch out a game that was already long in the tooth with even more content, and while I feel a lot of it is "good" content, they definitely needed to cut some content (literally all of act 2).

Spoiler Free Impressions (THE GOOD)

There is, thankfully, quite a bit many good things about the game, so let's dive right into it

1) Returning characters and callbacks galore

Cold Steel IV brings back or references just about every major player in the franchises, and it doesn't just stop there. It directly integrates them into the main plot, and there's a surprising amount of characters that don't feel superfluous. Words cannot describe the amount of joy I felt seeing these characters that I've grown so attached to in full 3D. The game is surprisingly really good at making callbacks, with even the most obscure quests and characters from the first game being referenced. A worry of mine is that the developers would "forget" about some of the less memorable aspects of the Sky games, but to say my fears were assuaged would be an understatement; this game constantly managed to put a smile on my face.

2) The absolute best bond events in the franchise

I know I mentioned the romance in this game is awful, but the bond events themselves are top class. They no longer feel like Falcom's transparent attempt at aping off the social link system. Instead, we're treated to these surprisingly involved mini-stories that are extremely plot relevant. They also make up some of the most touching parts of the story as well AND concluding several major character arcs, so if there's a character you're interested in, you really out to pursue their (final) bond events. Of course, the limited aspect bites them back, as always (perhaps moreso than ever). At least you can do sidequests to get one extra bond event, lol.

3) Sidequests

Similar to the above, sidequests are the most involved and plot-relevant they've ever been. You're not going around killing 20 bears asses for mundane thanks, they actually flesh out and contextualize the game's world and pretty much the rest of series. It's actually ridiculous how good these sidequests are, to the point where they really shouldn't be optional, lmao.

4) Emotional resonant as all hell

One of the few things this game does really well is tug at your heartstrings. I can't into detail, but there are a multitude of scenes that are far more touching than expected. That go beyond the usual "friendship will overcome all" theming that was present in JRPGs like this. There's a genuine sense of *healing* that was surprisingly reminiscent of the Sky games, and I ended up legitimately getting teary-eyed at some of the moments in the game. If I had to describe it, there's a relatable sense of "being knocked down by life" that a lot of the characters experience, and seeing those same characters get through those moments is actually extremely satisfying and heartfelt. And that just doesn't apply to the main cast either; even the NPCs in this game have arcs and hurdles to go through, which I felt was impressive. Even to the very end of the Erebonia saga, Falcom goes all out with the NPCs

4) Rean

Again, I can't go into much due to spoilers, but the way they finally conclude his arc is fantastic. After starting out as a decent, albeit somewhat unambitious protagonist, Rean finally ends up as a protagonist who can easily stand head to head with the likes of Estelle and Kevin. I'll definitely elaborate on this more in my upcoming spoiler-filled takes, but, I absolutely love what they did with Rean's character in this game.

5) The game's tone

This one is also spoiler-filled, but let's just say the tone is appropriately heavy, and the stakes are high. It's pretty much Cold Steel II done right, imo. There's also a sense of "maturity" that separates in from the earlier games. Not necessarily in the way you'd think, but, let's just say they manage to make good use out of the mostly adult cast.

6) The Grand finale

Cold Steel IV feels like a true grand finale in every sense of the word. While it doesn't wrap up every plot point, it does, conclusively end the Erebonia arc and does so with panache. While I mentioned earlier that the game's large roster was obnoxious, it also did end up contributing to an "Avengers" like feel, with your gigantic team literally feeling like "Heroes" and overcoming impossible odds. While the game has undoubtedly has pacing issues, it also ends extremely strongly. It also feels like Trails in the Sky: The 3rd's spiritual successor in the sense that it sets up many new exciting plot threads for the future.

I felt annoyed at the pacing, repetition and poor decisions regarding romance, but I felt elated at the emotional high points and spectacular moments, but overall, I walked away from Cold Steel IV feeling an immense sense of satisfaction.
Thank you for this. Not that I'd even actively look, but I bet it isn't easy coming across so many spoiler-free thoughts on CS4.

The NPCs have been a strong point of this arc from the get-go, so that last bit of 4a) under the good is especially nice to know. And that last bit that you end off with reminds me how I see SC being described by a lot of the vocal fanbase (that is, a game with both some of the weakest and strongest points of its arc).

I'm so thirsty for more Trails right now that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around an entry having too much content for me.

Consistency seems way more valuable to me, but I guess I am in the minority that literally doesn't care about voice acting in the slightest in basically any game. I don't think I could name a single voice actor at all, English or Japanese.
I'm surprised you feel like that, although thinking back to your CS2 impressions, I suppose it makes sense. I'm generally not this obsessed about dubs, but damn, CS1 and 2 characters were casted so well, and any major recasts that sound off would have killed a not-insignificant chunk of my interest in CS3. Thankfully Millium still sounds mostly like Millium and all of my favorite VAs are back.
 
Oct 26, 2017
5,201
South Carolina
sc has absolutely abhorrent pacing and padding, the only reason it is regarded is because it has a mythical wait to it

i need to check but this probably is because of preorder contracts falcom has/had in japan, those tend to be really shitty making it impossible for localisation licensing
Main Plot, yeah. So many other goodies of so many other types there though.

Rean doesn't lack person

It's always really strange to me that people describe Rean as a self-insert. The dude is his own character. You aren't defining who he is though your play. He isn't a Persona protagonist where you regularly are defining their personality yourself and often to be in line with your own. Choosing whose bonding events to see does not equal a self insert character.

I really think people conflate the idea of choosing who to spend time with during bonding events with this whole shallow self-insert/harem criticism. They are separate concepts even if they are often employed together. In this case it always seemed pretty clear they aren't though!
Rean, like all the teenage characters introduced in CS1&2, is a Rorschach Character who is to different clientele exactly what they want; both what is there or what is wanted there.
 

Jannyish

Member
Dec 16, 2017
248
Also consider that Falcom is a tiny company, and every man hour committed to localization programming is a man hour lost from their new game development.

As far as I know they did do the localization programming for the PS4 versions, so it's probably just a matter of whether they can spare the time or not. It's possible NISA might have inquired about adding more voiced lines and Falcom shot it down like they did with XSEED the first go around. I'm not convinced it's likely unless they come out and say that happened, but it's possible.
For the ps4 ports of Cs1/2 they probably took the PC versions as their base instead of the Ps3/Vita versions. Hence, the lines were probably already there. From what I have heard, the ps3/vita hardware is different from your average pc whilst the ps4 is quite similar, meaning that a port from pc to ps4 might actually have been a lot easier than from ps3 to ps4 from a technical standpoint too.

As for CS3, I believe Sean Chiplock alluded to something like that (them having to stick to the original voice lines), but I might remember that wrongly, or interpret it wrongly, and I can't find the interview right now so...
 

nivorae

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,590
I guess that's a fair point, but then, why dub everyone else?
You need to put it into perspective to how many lines in total are being voiced, Rean is the only character that always is around so they have to put his voice into more scenes. Not that it matters, Falcom, can be very random with that shit, i expect people to be very annoyed with a certain endgame scene in CS3 because that lmao.



Soon.™

graphic design is their passion
 

Mivey

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,925
Does it mean it's happening soon? :P
Supremezerker regularly answers questions about the project. Here's a recenet one: https://curiouscat.me/supremezerker/post/1002210535
Hows the progress with the beta testing?
So far so good?Testing is planned to start at the end of the month, after we finish a huge chunk of the 2nd pass and other non-dialogue text is ready
I'd assume a release in November or December is quite feasible
 

Chaosblade

Resettlement Advisor
Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,174
God yes, I'm so ready for Zero.

That will look great in the Steam library next to the Sky games.
 

Jannyish

Member
Dec 16, 2017
248
You need to put it into perspective to how many lines in total are being voiced, Rean is the only character that always is around so they have to put his voice into more scenes. Not that it matters, Falcom, can be very random with that shit, i expect people to be very annoyed with a certain endgame scene in CS3 because that lmao.


graphic design is their passion
Oh God pls no. I have a very bad feeling about essential scenes not being voiced and I don't like it. Sigh oh well...
 

Kromeo

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,908
I'm still only half way through SC ( just finished investigating the threat letters in Grancel), so at this point I might as well wait for the Zero translation to be finished, it's going to be into next year by the time I'm done with third

By the time I've finished Ao we should know whether or not NISA are going to bother with a PC version of CS3 as well
 

atlans89

Member
Oct 25, 2017
249
November - December is rather good date, assuming ppl like CS3 and ready to be invested in Crossbell duology.
 

Yunyo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,567
I actually like the simplicity of that Zero cover art with Crossbell in the backdrop. The final Japanese cover art for Zero is terrible looking anyway, this is a much better, straightforward one.
 

Erpy

Member
May 31, 2018
911
Cause, now I don't remember where I heard or read that, so correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Xseed DID want to add more voiced lines for Rean even in the original releases OF CS1/2, but Falcom didn't allow it. Now... If your publisher says they are gonna pay a voice actor to do more lines, then why would you refuse that other than thinking it might change the way you intended the game to be experienced? Now, I don't know what Xseed did to eventually make them agree to it, but in an interview Sean Chiplock said even now for CS3, they had to adhere to the Japanese original again, meaning Rean ain't gonna talk sometimes when he totally could have in English. That... Makes no sense unless there is a specific reason Falcom doesn't want him to talk too much.
It's a fairly simple concept. For the initial console versions of CS1 and CS2, Falcom had to do all the programming work themselves. (I assume same is true with CS3; NISA just delivered the voice samples and script files and Falcom inserted them into the source...and implemented Turbo mode on their end at NISA's request) The way voices usually work in a game like this is that in the game code, lines like these would be used for dialogue lines:

C#:
DisplaySpeechMessage("Rean", charRean, skinSerious, 402, "My name is Rean Schwarzer and I'm here to deliver another anime speech bec... (*pie in the face*)");

DisplaySpeechMessage("Male student", charStudent, null, -1, "Hey! Who stole my pie?")
The numbers in those lines refer to wav-files in the game folder. If it's a -1, there's no voice file expected and the line is always silent, whether a voice file for it exists or not. If 0 or higher, the corresponding voice file is tracked down and, if present in the game folder, played while the text is on-screen. If not present, the game simply ignores it and the line is silent anyway.

As long as the localized voice files have the same numbers as the original files, no work on the programmer's part is needed. You simply replace the Japanese files with the English ones, or put them in a different subfolder and add a single line somewhere else in the code that makes it possible to read from different folders, and you're golden.

The problem comes with the scenario of a publisher coming up with additional voice files. Dropping them in the voice folder doesn't work out of the box because you need references in the code pointing to those files. So if a publisher records 5000 new lines of dialogue, someone has to scour the game code for the right message line and change the -1 to the index number of the new voice file. And do that 5000 times. It's not a difficult job, just a tedious and potentially time-consuming one. For the PS3 and Vita versions of CS1 and CS2, Falcom also had to do their own annual projects, so they couldn't be bothered to take a programmer off their own projects to do that chore. For the PC ports, XSeed had control of the source code so they could let their own programmer fill things in. For the PS4 ports, Falcom already had their development department working on the code, so this was just another to-do item on their list and not something they had to pull programmers off other projects for. (also, Falcom probably realized that their PS4 ports would take a sales hit in the west if they didn't include one of the PC version's biggest selling points)

That's why the initial console versions had the Silent Rean syndrome in a lot of places and the PC and PS4 ports didn't. That's also why people were already expecting CS3 to also suffer from Silent Rean syndrome and CS4 will be the same. If a PC port is developed and NISA decides to go and shoot for XSeed's standards, those missing samples may be recorded (NISA did a lot of re-recording during their attempts to repair Ys VIII's botched script) but they most likely won't be back-patched into the PS4 version.
 

Jannyish

Member
Dec 16, 2017
248
It's a fairly simple concept. For the initial console versions of CS1 and CS2, Falcom had to do all the programming work themselves. (I assume same is true with CS3; NISA just delivered the voice samples and script files and Falcom inserted them into the source...and implemented Turbo mode on their end at NISA's request) The way voices usually work in a game like this is that in the game code, lines like these would be used for dialogue lines:

C#:
DisplaySpeechMessage("Rean", charRean, skinSerious, 402, "My name is Rean Schwarzer and I'm here to deliver another anime speech bec... (*pie in the face*)");

DisplaySpeechMessage("Male student", charStudent, null, -1, "Hey! Who stole my pie?")
The numbers in those lines refer to wav-files in the game folder. If it's a -1, there's no voice file expected and the line is always silent, whether a voice file for it exists or not. If 0 or higher, the corresponding voice file is tracked down and, if present in the game folder, played while the text is on-screen. If not present, the game simply ignores it and the line is silent anyway.

As long as the localized voice files have the same numbers as the original files, no work on the programmer's part is needed. You simply replace the Japanese files with the English ones, or put them in a different subfolder and add a single line somewhere else in the code that makes it possible to read from different folders, and you're golden.

The problem comes with the scenario of a publisher coming up with additional voice files. Dropping them in the voice folder doesn't work out of the box because you need references in the code pointing to those files. So if a publisher records 5000 new lines of dialogue, someone has to scour the game code for the right message line and change the -1 to the index number of the new voice file. And do that 5000 times. It's not a difficult job, just a tedious and potentially time-consuming one. For the PS3 and Vita versions of CS1 and CS2, Falcom also had to do their own annual projects, so they couldn't be bothered to take a programmer off their own projects to do that chore. For the PC ports, XSeed had control of the source code so they could let their own programmer fill things in. For the PS4 ports, Falcom already had their development department working on the code, so this was just another to-do item on their list and not something they had to pull programmers off other projects for. (also, Falcom probably realized that their PS4 ports would take a sales hit in the west if they didn't include one of the PC version's biggest selling points)

That's why the initial console versions had the Silent Rean syndrome in a lot of places and the PC and PS4 ports didn't. That's also why people were already expecting CS3 to also suffer from Silent Rean syndrome and CS4 will be the same. If a PC port is developed and NISA decides to go and shoot for XSeed's standards, those missing samples may be recorded (NISA did a lot of re-recording during their attempts to repair Ys VIII's botched script) but they most likely won't be back-patched into the PS4 version.
Wow that was very educational. Thanks for taking the time to write this down. I also appreciate the lines you thought up haha 😂

I guess I get the issue, considering Falcom is a small company. But it does make u wonder why Xseed (and now NISA) didn't offer to have one of their own developers do it in the first place. I mean you could argue that they don't wanna pay for it, but then Xseed did it eventually, so I do wonder why they didn't do it originally.

Actually, from the way you describe this, I am sure even rookies or programmers in training would be able to do it, and those cost significantly less and you can idk, temporarily employ them as a college student part timer. But I know nothing of the circumstances, so...
 

Erpy

Member
May 31, 2018
911
Wow that was very educational. Thanks for taking the time to write this down. I also appreciate the lines you thought up haha 😂

I guess I get the issue, considering Falcom is a small company. But it does make u wonder why Xseed (and now NISA) didn't offer to have one of their own developers do it in the first place. I mean you could argue that they don't wanna pay for it, but then Xseed did it eventually, so I do wonder why they didn't do it originally.

Actually, from the way you describe this, I am sure even rookies or programmers in training would be able to do it, and those cost significantly less and you can idk, temporarily employ them as a college student part timer. But I know nothing of the circumstances, so...
Because Falcom (and presumably a lot of other developers who don't have their own in-house localization department) doesn't actually provide the game's source code to their foreign publishers. They simply export the text strings of their game into an xls-file and send it over, which the localizers fill in and which Falcom then imports back into the build for the localized version. Even if XSeed had offered (which they couldn't because they don't own a PS3 development kit nor do they employ any PS3 programmers but that's neither here nor there) it's not certain Falcom would have agreed to hand their source code over to an external party unless absolutely necessary. (software companies are generally rather protective of their source code) And IF they had agreed, it would probably have been under the condition that XSeed would provide full technical support for the game (since they had their own people mess around in it) which is not something you want a newbie employee to do. :)

When the PC port was developed, XSeed DID get the source code from Falcom since it's kinda hard to port a game without access to the source. (and naturally this time XSeed WAS responsible for the technical support here)
 

Chocobo Blade

Member
Oct 29, 2017
1,266
Rean sort of seems like two characters to me. One has something of a personality and appears in the game's regular cutscenes. The other is more like you describe and appears in the bonding events (and nowhere has his lack of personality been more apparent than in most of the romance scenes at the end of Cold Steel 2). Most of Rean's interactions with Class VII are incredibly one-sided, in that the scenes focus on the non-Rean character's passion or quirk (Gaius with art, Elliot with music, and so on) but the scenes are always especially memorable since Rean lacks a passion/quirk of his own to bounce off of the other character (i.e., Rean would seem like more of a person and not a self-insert if he was completely tone-deaf and embarrassed himself with Elliot). I don't think this type of blandness is as noticeable in a series like Persona, with a silent protagonist, but it definitely stands out with Rean, given how much more personable the other characters and previous protagonists like Estelle are. Estelle, in contrast, definitely engages with the Sky cast with a lot more personality (i.e., she butts heads with Josette because the two are similar and like the same person, and she babies Tita since she thinks the latter is really cute). I like Rean well enough in the main scenario, but the bonding event Rean is lame and boring.
Sums up my issues with Rean's characterization pretty well. He was constantly shifting between having his actual personality and the bland self insert protag personality. It makes his writing often feel sloppy and incohesive, in a have your cake and eat it way. It's also probably the main thing that made me not enjoy the bonding events much. Despite often containing some relevant character development, they just mostly felt pretty lifeless and by the numbers, with Rean dropping into his generic persona and solving everyone's issues with a pep talk (sometimes exactly the same ones multiple times - looking at you, Elliot).
 

Chaosblade

Resettlement Advisor
Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,174
Sums up my issues with Rean's characterization pretty well. He was constantly shifting between having his actual personality and the bland self insert protag personality. It makes his writing often feel sloppy and incohesive, in a have your cake and eat it way. It's also probably the main thing that made me not enjoy the bonding events much. Despite often containing some relevant character development, they just mostly felt pretty lifeless and by the numbers, with Rean dropping into his generic persona and solving everyone's issues with a pep talk (sometimes exactly the same ones multiple times - looking at you, Elliot).
I wonder if that's a localization quirk, because it's known that XSEED tried to give Rean a bit more personality due to his blandness being a criticism of the original Japanese script.
 

PK Gaming

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,131
I wonder if that's a localization quirk, because it's known that XSEED tried to give Rean a bit more personality due to his blandness being a criticism of the original Japanese script.
What they did was alter his incidental dialogue, he was more or less the same in the main scenario.

Xseed Localization Blog said:
For example, let’s look at our protagonist, Rean Schwarzer. He’s a pretty cool guy, overall, and in his best scenes, he exhibits no shortage of personality and character development. But in a day-to-day school setting, he kind of struggled a bit with keeping the clear characterization that was on display in the main scenario. We really didn’t want Rean to come off as some sort of faceless visual novel protagonist, so in writing his more mundane interactions, we localized with an eye toward having him be a bit more expressive – basically, keeping the best of the personality Falcom had given him more consistent throughout all of his scenes. The end result of this is something subtle enough that you won’t notice it unless you’re pretty familiar with the Japanese script, but the aggregate effect will be that Rean feels more multifaceted as a character, and hopefully will end up being someone you’ll enjoy spending time with (and this is a Trails game – you’ll be spending a LOT of time with Rean and friends).
Though, I suppose they punched up some important moments in the main narrative too. "Heed my call..." is entirely English only, same with the "bank of Rean" line.
 

OmegaDL50

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,054
Philadelphia, PA
Currently playing Trails of Cold Steel II, so not quite ready for CS3 yet.

In regards to
Divine Knights and Rean's super powered evil side, considering the Valimar synchronizes his power with Rean in the sense they share damage and whatnot. Is there any indication what would happen if Rean was to enter his White Hair / Red Eyes state while piloting Valimar?
Does the game at all touch on this?

Trails of Cold Steel IV is the last game in the Erebonian Arc right? So they did Gagharv, Liberl, Crossbell, and Erebonia. I'm guessing the next series of games might be the Calvard region?
 

SaberVS7

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,831
Currently playing Trails of Cold Steel II, so not quite ready for CS3 yet.

In regards to
Divine Knights and Rean's super powered evil side, considering the Valimar synchronizes his power with Rean in the sense they share damage and whatnot. Is there any indication what would happen if Rean was to enter his White Hair / Red Eyes state while piloting Valimar?
Does the game at all touch on this?
Yes, CS2 does touch on it.

Rean does it at the start of one of the final dungeons, but it basically fries Valimar for the next several hours from the power-surge. Real-Time with how much of a slog that dungeon is >_>