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

skLaFarebear

Member
Oct 25, 2017
641
I’m really not sure which way to play Crossbell/Cold Steel before CS3. Do I play Crossbell first, or replay CS 1/2 and then experience Zero/Ao for the first time before diving into CS3? This would be so much easier if I had any idea when the Geofront patch comes out, but I can’t see it happening before September. Decisions decisions...
iirc, Zerker said it most likely won't be done before CS3 drops (no fault of his or the team's own, that's just how real life is). If you really wanna be there for day one of CS3, your only options are the current TLs or learning fluent JP in less than 3 months. The latter is probably more improbable than an actual Crossbell localization within the next year.
 

CrazyDude

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,749
Does anyone know if I use psn plus save upload feature to transfer save from vita to the ps4 of Cold Steel, that it will transfer the clear data save? I know the in game one won't let me.
 

skLaFarebear

Member
Oct 25, 2017
641
Does anyone know if I use psn plus save upload feature to transfer save from vita to the ps4 of Cold Steel, that it will transfer the clear data save? I know the in game one won't let me.
The in game one does work, but you just can't upload a clear save data. If you start NG+ and make a new save file, that should work if you use the in game transfer.

Pulling instructions from an online guide

1. You need to go into the PS Vita.

2. Load a save.

3. Go into the menu and select transfer

4. Select upload.

Then on PS4, you go into transfer and download, which pulls the save from it.
 

CrazyDude

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,749
The in game one does work, but you just can't upload a clear save data. If you start NG+ and make a new save file, that should work if you use the in game transfer.
What about the psn plus save upload thing?

Also I just sold my vita version and the ps4 version hasn't arrived. If I upload the save before shipping the game out, would it still be there for when I get the ps4 copy? ( If I use the in game one)
 

skLaFarebear

Member
Oct 25, 2017
641
What about the psn plus save upload thing?

Also I just sold my vita version and the ps4 version hasn't arrived. If I upload the save before shipping the game out, would it still be there for when I get the ps4 copy? ( If I use the in game one)
I don't believe the ps plus cloud save one works. If you use the in game one then yes, it'll still be there when you upload it from the in game option on PS3/Vita and go to download it later on the PS4 copy. The in game cross-save is tied to your PSN account.
 

CrazyDude

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,749
I don't believe the ps plus cloud save one works. If you use the in game one then yes, it'll still be there when you upload it from the in game option on PS3/Vita and go to download it later on the PS4 copy. The in game cross-save is tied to your PSN account.
So just to make sure, if upload the save and I should be safe to ship the vita version out before the ps4 arrives, right?
 

Diablos54

Member
Oct 26, 2017
283
If you've played CS 1/2 and you don't mind the current translations, I would play zero and ao first.
iirc, Zerker said it most likely won't be done before CS3 drops (no fault of his or the team's own, that's just how real life is). If you really wanna be there for day one of CS3, your only options are the current TLs or learning fluent JP in less than 3 months. The latter is probably more improbable than an actual Crossbell localization within the next year.
Hmm, well in that case...
 

Diablos54

Member
Oct 26, 2017
283
Make sure you get the voice patch. it makes playing the game so much better, since it helps convey the emotion that the translation can't, and makes reading the it a lot more bearable.
Exactly what I did. That with auto text forwarding makes things feel great. Still in the prologue so maybe it’ll nosedive, but the translation isn’t as bad as I had heard, it’ll do for now at least
 

Sandstar

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,315
Exactly what I did. That with auto text forwarding makes things feel great. Still in the prologue so maybe it’ll nosedive, but the translation isn’t as bad as I had heard, it’ll do for now at least
The pc version has a slightly cleaned up translation, as opposed to the psp version, at least, I thought so. Tho I only played through the prologue in the psp version before giving up.
 

Diablos54

Member
Oct 26, 2017
283
5 hours 30 minutes in and I’m still in the prologue! Damn Crossbell is huge, but easy to explore once you’ve got the hang of it. Loving things so far, most importantly the characters seem great and feel full of personality despite the translation which is a relief. The NPC dialogue, which itself isn’t too bad either, just changed for the first time so back to exploring and talking I go!

I can see how much better it would feel with a more polished script, but the voice acting helps in that respect. Also weird not being able to control the camera, but I haven’t had a problem with it so far and the sweeping movements are pretty cool.
 

Sandstar

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,315
5 hours 30 minutes in and I’m still in the prologue! Damn Crossbell is huge, but easy to explore once you’ve got the hang of it. Loving things so far, most importantly the characters seem great and feel full of personality despite the translation which is a relief. The NPC dialogue, which itself isn’t too bad either, just changed for the first time so back to exploring and talking I go!

I can see how much better it would feel with a more polished script, but the voice acting helps in that respect. Also weird not being able to control the camera, but I haven’t had a problem with it so far and the sweeping movements are pretty cool.
I found the camera to okay most of the time. It only frustrated me a few times, and you can move it in battle using the shoulder buttons (I play with a xbo controller, probably similar with a ps4 controller, no clue what to push if you're using a keyboard) I didn't talk to any of the npcs, and I don't think I did that much grinding (i tend to just fight every monster along the way to a location), and it took me over 59 hours to finish on normal.
 

Naha-

Member
Feb 6, 2019
31
I have been playing Zero for awhile and now I'm currently at Chapter 4. So far, I'm loving it. The only thing that I find a bit annoying, it's the inmense amount of sidequests in the last two chapters. No idea if it was like this in Trails in The Sky, as I skipped them when I played FC and SC.
 

Mivey

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,404
The only thing that I find a bit annoying, it's the inmense amount of sidequests in the last two chapters. No idea if it was like this in Trails in The Sky, as I skipped them when I played FC and SC.
Why don't you like them, then? It's one thing if you felt compelled to do them and they turned out to be boring (for example), but since you are not bothering with them anyway it's literally just an entry in a list.
And FC and SC had lots of sidequests, though I didn't think there were particularly more near the end. With SC it was just that they required lots and lots of backtracking in the last chapter (which makes sense for story reasons, but it's still a bit annoying). I did actually enjoy the quests themselves, though.
 

Dragon1893

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,780
Started chapter 1 of Zero,
I wasn't expecting Estelle and Joshua to appear so soon, what an awesome surprise. Gonna have to get used to those character portraits though.
 

Diablos54

Member
Oct 26, 2017
283
Started chapter 1 of Zero,
I wasn't expecting Estelle and Joshua to appear so soon, what an awesome surprise. Gonna have to get used to those character portraits though.
I had the exact same response, was so happy!

In terms of my progress, 13 hours in a little ahead of where you are, still on chapter 1 and just heading to
the hospital. Finally got a fishing rod which is great, seeing all those spots without a rod was really frustrating.

And the Randy scene before you get on the bus? Just wow haha, I knew he was going to be excited when he found out but damn!

Edit: So there was an incident on the way, but the best kind!
ESTELLE AND JOSHUA WHOOO!! That music, that conversation about 3rd, so good! I see the 3 months since 3rd haven’t done anything to change Estelle either, as bullheaded as always...
 
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Sandstar

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,315
Why don't you like them, then? It's one thing if you felt compelled to do them and they turned out to be boring (for example), but since you are not bothering with them anyway it's literally just an entry in a list.
And FC and SC had lots of sidequests, though I didn't think there were particularly more near the end. With SC it was just that they required lots and lots of backtracking in the last chapter (which makes sense for story reasons, but it's still a bit annoying). I did actually enjoy the quests themselves, though.
Quests are almost the only way to get mira, apart from grinding sepith, which you need for your slots, and quartz.
 

Naha-

Member
Feb 6, 2019
31
Why don't you like them, then? It's one thing if you felt compelled to do them and they turned out to be boring (for example), but since you are not bothering with them anyway it's literally just an entry in a list.
And FC and SC had lots of sidequests, though I didn't think there were particularly more near the end. With SC it was just that they required lots and lots of backtracking in the last chapter (which makes sense for story reasons, but it's still a bit annoying). I did actually enjoy the quests themselves, though.
Maybe I didn't explain myself well enough. I didn't bothered in FC/SC as they were my first Kiseki games and I didn't thought I was going to get that much into it lol. I like sidequests, so far until Chapter 4 I was trying to do all of them except the hidden ones as I'm not using a guide, before advancing the main story..But as long as I proceed, the sidequests gets more complex so I need to spend more time in finishing them. Then I got one related to cooking and I decide to skip it because it was going to be a real pain to complete. I also don't like the monster extermination ones, as sometimes you waste a lot of time looking for the monsters in the fields.

Then this is when I made my complain: Sidequests get longer but I still receive a lot, so maybe you can guess why I find it a bit frustrating. But like I said, it's nothing bad or something like that, I'm just going to skip the ones that looks boring or seems too long. I already got too much Mira from exchanging Sepith.
 

Mivey

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,404
I think I can understand to some extent now, you were trying to do all that you can find, but as the game continues they get more tedious.

I still don't see how the sheer quantity is any issue, as long they are actually good sidequests, in and of themselves. Compare it to something like Witcher 3, which had a ton of them, but they were almost all good and varied.
 

Rean

Member
Oct 27, 2017
852
I still don't see how the sheer quantity is any issue, as long they are actually good sidequests, in and of themselves. Compare it to something like Witcher 3, which had a ton of them, but they were almost all good and varied.
i wanted to vomit during skellige.
disagree, closer to the end witcher is a boring slog and plot goes astray (not counting dlc)
 

Mivey

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,404
i wanted to vomit during skellige.
disagree, closer to the end witcher is a boring slog and plot goes astray (not counting dlc)
Never felt like that, it's why I got over 200 hours in my first (and certainly only) playthrough. But there's no accounting for taste, and there are certainly many different schools of thought within the RPG genre when it comes to sidequests and how they relate with the larger game.
 

nivorae

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,397
Exactly what I did. That with auto text forwarding makes things feel great. Still in the prologue so maybe it’ll nosedive, but the translation isn’t as bad as I had heard, it’ll do for now at least
there is a "beta" release of zero pc that is supposed to be better because of minor editing, but i haven't checked it out. The psp leak is true to its reputation as bad though, it is serviceable enough for the main story but the side content would be unintelligible at times. The response of some people towards ao is overblown though, Flame's edit is quite good as is i have to say.

I actually am curious how people would react to Ao, a lot of the fanservice nonsense that people complain about with CS started here actually.
 

Diablos54

Member
Oct 26, 2017
283
there is a "beta" release of zero pc that is supposed to be better because of minor editing, but i haven't checked it out. The psp leak is true to its reputation as bad though, it is serviceable enough for the main story but the side content would be unintelligible at times. The response of some people towards ao is overblown though, Flame's edit is quite good as is i have to say.
I’m playing the PC version, and as of chapter 1 all the NPC dialogue and side quests and have been fine, haven’t had any issues yet apart from one issue of misgendering which I heard was an issue.
 

Dragon1893

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,780
I’m playing the PC version, and as of chapter 1 all the NPC dialogue and side quests and have been fine, haven’t had any issues yet apart from one issue of misgendering which I heard was an issue.
Yeah, some sentences could be structured better, there are typos and text going outside the dialogue box but with the way some people were describing it I was expecting actual problems in following the story but that is not the case at all.
 

Sandstar

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,315
Yeah, some sentences could be structured better, there are typos and text going outside the dialogue box but with the way some people were describing it I was expecting actual problems in following the story but that is not the case at all.
Yeah, it's like I said, it's a little clunky, and rough at times, but you can absolutely follow the storyline (I played the pc version, which has a slightly cleaned up translation) I think it's possible people are referring to the psp version.
 

Psxphile

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,209
beta english Zero script leaker did us all a favor
it's training us to accept things in preparation of our all-NISA-localized future
 

Negator

Member
Oct 25, 2017
392
Finished Ao no Kiseki last night. Holy crap, that was an insane final chapter. Probably longer post when I wake up.
 

lucancel

Member
Oct 30, 2017
317
Ao finale chapter is really good.
Disappointing not to see things fully covered for the ending yet
 

Diablos54

Member
Oct 26, 2017
283
Yeah, some sentences could be structured better, there are typos and text going outside the dialogue box but with the way some people were describing it I was expecting actual problems in following the story but that is not the case at all.
Exactly. The fact that the NPC personalities still shine through says it all.

So 20 hours in and I’ve finally finished chapter 1!
Really nice seeing Renee again, and didn’t expect her to know Arios! Had a feeling the ‘attacks’ weren’t what they seemed, knew it was the mafia the moment I saw them. Also, Joshua’s line at the start of chapter 2 killed me, ‘She’s my step-sister, we’re also lovers’ just outta nowhere!

Also, I’ve spent 4 hours at the start of chapter 2 just talking to all the NPC’s and exploring the new areas without doing any story stuff, is this normal behaviour haha?
 
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Sandstar

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,315
I need to stop spoiling myself in the wiki. "Oh, let's look up if some minor character shows up later in CS 3....wait, what the fuck? They're a member of oroborous....and they were the leader of the Zero to Azure project? WHAT THE FUCK?!" That would've been awesome to have learned at the time. Oh well :)
 
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Piston

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,439
I spent most of the day finishing up The 3rd. I got all chests and all of the doors (though it thinks I didn't do one of the Sun Doors, so Steam isn't giving me the achievement). The last run was pretty easy because I got my main party members (Kevin, Ries, Renne, and Richard) their ultimate weapons by completing the Abyss. I died to the last boss when it decided to 1-shot my whole team from full HP with no warning that it was one of those attacks, had to save Grail Sphere for it the second time.

The end credits glitched out for me and made it so I didn't technically finish, there was nothing besides a black screen going on visually, but I could hear the theme going. No New Game + and no achievements again, which kind of sucks, but I'm not going back for them.

The game is fine, definitely felt like filler/side content. Having all of those characters ended up being kind of cumbersome as scenes with everyone ended up going around the ring and letting everyone have a line or two. Kevin & Ries's story was good though and I enjoyed a lot of the mini-stories behind the Doors. I think my favorite was the one with the Orphanage and the baby dragon.

It's worth playing if you love the series, but not necessary.
 
Nov 4, 2017
1,751
It would have been so awesome to have learned of it at the time that you felt the need to spoil it for everyone in this thread without spoiler tagging it?

very cool
 
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Sandstar

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,315
It was so awesome to have learned of it at the time that you felt the need to spoil everyone in this thread without spoiler tagging it?

very cool
Do you know who I'm talking about? No? Then it's not spoiled. Also, you didn't spoiler it either. *shrugs*
I mean....a character was going to be the leader of the zero to azure project. And some people are going to be part of oroborus
. Those aren't spoilers, because they have to exist by the nature of how plots work.
 
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Nov 4, 2017
1,751
Do you know who I'm talking about? No? Then it's not spoiled. Also, you didn't spoiler it either. *shrugs* I mean....a character was going to be the leader of the zero to azure project. And some people are going to be part of oroborus. Those aren't spoilers, because they have to exist by the nature of how plots work.
I see you spoiler tagged it now, so thank you, but even if you don't know the name of the person in question that is very much a Crossbell spoiler nonetheless.

Be considerate of those who haven't played those games yet
 

Sandstar

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,315
I see you spoiler tagged it now, so thank you, but even if you don't know the name of the person in question that is very much a Crossbell spoiler nonetheless.

Be considerate of those who haven't played those games yet
Knowing that people existing isn't a spoiler. Telling you who it was is the spoiler. And you still haven't changed your post, so now you're the one who's spoiling it for others. For my own part, I honestly thought it was generic enough that it wasn't a spoiler.
 
Nov 4, 2017
1,751
Knowing that people existing isn't a spoiler. Telling you who it was is the spoiler. And you still haven't changed your post, so now you're the one who's spoiling it for others. For my own part, I honestly thought it was generic enough that it wasn't a spoiler.
that's fair. apologize if I'm coming off as aggressive, I've just had extremely bad luck with avoiding spoilers lately and it's been frustrating.

I'd consider the name "Azure Zero project" a spoiler mostly because it's not something your supposed to know about while playing Crossbell, but the name of the person in question (Assuming it's who I think it is) is much bigger
 

Sandstar

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,315
that's fair. apologize if I'm coming off as aggressive, I've just had extremely bad luck with avoiding spoilers lately and it's been frustrating.

I'd consider the name "Azure Zero project" a spoiler mostly because it's not something your supposed to know about while playing Crossbell, but the name of the person in question (Assuming it's who I think it is) is much bigger
Well, I can understand that point of view, but for all we know, the advertising in japan mentioned it. Is it mentioned in CS2?
 

Yunyo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,458
I've written a CS4 review.
I tried to write it generally at first with spoiler marks for just the story content but it was so painfully annoying I decided to spoiler tag the whole thing and write a more detailed review that doesn't dodge character names or event descriptions.
I also had written a way more detailed review but it was too long and meandering so I decided to condense it.

GAMEPLAY:

This section has been written from the perspective of someone who already beat CS3. The gameplay systems in CS4 and CS3 are the same. I played the game on Hard difficulty. Coming from CS3 and Kondo’s post-CS3 interview where he noted that Orders are too strong and he wanted to add a progression system for orders, I knew that certain parts of the CS3 battle system were going to be nerfed, and I was fine with that. CS3 was a very broken game, largely due to Orders and overpowered master quartz (MQ).

In CS4 Orders are weaker than in CS3 and in some cases cost more BP to use, but you can improve them by completing trial chests (the in-game justification for how your orders got weaker is slightly amusing). MQs also received some nerfs, which include reductions to Sirius’s counter-damage, reductions in Skuld’s break damage, etc. Lastly, the amount of time a boss got delayed for being Broken was heavily reduced, and it’s much harder to Break bosses period. And this worked out pretty well at first. I’d say for the first 1/5 of the game, things are somewhat balanced, though enemies could stand to deal more damage.

However the moment Rean rejoins your party, everything breaks wide open. Rean’s overpowered Orders (though overpowered in CS3, there are even more powerful orders in CS3 you can use in comparison) completely decimate the game’s balance; the ability to reduce incoming damage by 40% for only 2 BP, and the ability to instant cast arts for 6 turns with only 3 BP are just too strong. Though the other members do have strong orders, they are usually temporary buffs or healing orders, or raise damage via a set percentage, or just cost too much BP to loop reliably since it’s harder to Break bosses than before.

Once you reach this part of the game, you can instacast arts, annihilate an enemy’s health, break them, then regain BP easily by linking attacks after they are broken… basically the same loop as CS3 with Juna and Kurt/Sara’s Orders, just slower. It’s not just Rean’s fault, because after the midpoint of the game where you have more or less a ton of characters at your disposal you can break the game as you wish and everything gets smashed even farther wide open with whatever variety of busted you want.

An annoying part of all this is that the enemy bosses have something from CS3 called “Raised State”, where they gain a buffs (some permanent), big CP/EP gain, a big chunk of health, and take reduced damage for three turns or more depending on how long the State lasts. So if you don’t want a fight to take eons, the game almost encourages you to break it. This raised state almost feels like a band-aid fix to balance problems, so that people wouldn’t make the same complaint that they made about CS2 and annihilating bosses.

I haven’t even brought up the incredible link bonuses you get such as healing, blocking attacks (even blocking s-crafts for reduced damage on TOP of having orders reduce damage), and so forth. Linking two casters together almost guarantees an endless pool of EP. It’s the same from CS3, but much worse since you are controlling characters that have way more link bonuses together than before.

Enemy bosses now use Orders, but it was implemented in the lamest way imaginable. Instead of having a system of competing Orders with us versus the enemy, the enemy’s Order actually locks out your Order for several turns at the start of the battle, and then after the enemy’s Order expires, they never use an Order again (or do so EXTREMELY rarely). So instead of being something interesting, it became another balance band-aid.

The mecha fights are largely just as simple as always. However the ability of boss mechs to suddenly gain a big chunk of health and self-buff (with some of these buffs being permanent, mind you) is ridiculous, basically making matches take way longer than they should be with no real strategic benefit. Since a buffed character/mecha cannot be debuffed in the same category, assist characters that have debuff properties on their arts are useless against big boss enemy mechs. The ability to use Orders with mechs isn’t given until WAY too late into the game, another dimension to battles that is sorely missing for the majority of the game.

So like previous CS games, if you don’t mind just breaking them in various ways, you’ll do just fine.

UI/UX:

Same as CS3. Really enjoy how there are quick shortcuts on the d-pad. There is lag on the character select screen, but it’s not too noticeable. One complaint is no wraparound scrolling on the character select screen. Another complaint is that you still can’t sort quartz by element.

When you go to report sidequests there is a big delay before you can actually view them on the computer which is annoying. If you accidentally hit report sidequest, it forces you to sit through a spiel even if you have nothing to report. If you submit notes via ARCUS to other student members and are successful, it will force quit your ARCUS screen even if you have other things on your ARCUS you want to do.

If your character is in the corner of the map during battle, it causes crafts and arts to get bugged out where the aiming lines and circles will always set in the wrong direction in the corner by default. A strange bug.

After you beat the game, the game makes a separate save and asks you to reload and make a choice to see the “actual ending”. There is absolutely no reason to do this and it befuddles me why they went to such trouble. There is a sidequest that is “only accessible” if you do every sidequest in the game up to that point, and clearing this sidequest it is required to reach the actual ending. But if you don’t unlock the sidequest, don’t worry; the game forces you to beat it if you want to see the true ending anyway. This is rather stupid and it makes me wonder why they didn’t just make this sidequest part of the main plot. THEN, after watching the true ending and watching the second set of credits, you can reload the save AGAIN, to see a “hidden scene”. This feels like a ton of nonsense that’s layered for no real reason. You think you would give me the courtesy of watching such important scenes normally without having to jump through such silly hoops. What is the point of a true ending that’s locked like this, just to say the game has a true ending?

GRAPHICS:

The opening animation is of such a horrendous quality, that I was wondering if Falcom had lost their minds approving it. Please go back to dramatic “moving” stills if you need to be mindful of budgets. It’s almost like they recognize how bad it looks because they have a “second opening” character reel, but the combination of these things is so cheap looking and awkward that there really is no need to do something like this again.

There are a lot of beautiful graphical showpieces in this game and the 60fps is very welcome. Lost Arts in particular are just as pretty as ever and the grand spectacle of scenes is impactful (such as the large airship battles). That being said, my previous complaints about lighting and shadows still stand, I would like to see Falcom attempt more stylish lighting and shadows.

The roads are still rather bare, and I would like to see things like rendered grass or more realistic trees. That being said, some areas like the wetlands are very pretty, so no complaints there. I also enjoyed a lot of the graphics in the Crossbell areas like Orchis Tower and Mishelam. Ordis also deserves a special mention for being just as beautiful as always.

MUSIC:

So I feel like this soundtrack is weaker than the one in Cold Steel 3 and might be the weakest soundtrack in the entire Trails series. The biggest problem is the proliferation of very crappy sounding boss battle themes; Endure Grief, Mighty Urge, Deep Carnival, Blue Stardust, Bold Assailants (why are there so many different boss themes that all suck?). Not only do these boss themes sound terrible, but contextually they have no power or depth at all; can you listen to any of the above themes and tell me which one is the battle theme against Ouroboros members or Jaegers? Bet you can’t. It’s like the exact opposite of Trails SC and Ao, where the “Sora no Kiseki” leftmotif and the “Get Over the Barrier” leftmotif rang proudly throughout many high quality songs, or where the beautiful pacing and instrument choices dictated the emotion of the scene or had a composition texture which reflected the character of the opponent you were facing (e.g. Erosion of Madness and McBurn, Unfathomed Force and Arianrhod).

Generally the problem is that Falcom outsourced way too much important music to a dude named Singa who doesn’t have the skill to compose good music, and doesn’t care to put context into his songs either. So there is just this avalanche of shit. Why do I call it an avalanche? Because you will be hearing all of these battle themes A LOT and for a long period of time. To make matters worse, one of the most climactic moments in the whole game (and one of the most emotional, if you’re a big fan of Rean, and I know there are a lot of those) is jarringly ruined by some of the shittiest freestyle rap I’ve ever heard in my life. Meguro this composer is not.

Area themes are fine as usual, though I feel that there isn’t a road song as good as CS3’s “Alley of Silence” (though “Witch of the Quiet Forest” comes close). Ordis theme sounds as beautiful as ever, but town themes are largely reused or just basic stuff, which is perfectly fine. Minigame themes sound good, though I feel that the CS3 Vantage Master theme is superior. Dungeon themes are excellent, with “Betting the Fate of the World” and “The End of SAGA” being the pure sugary good stuff.

There are some absolute standout battle themes such as Excellion Krieg, Unlikely Combination, With Our Own Hands!!, and Majestic Roar, though Unlikely Combination is played very rarely and Majestic Roar is only played once (for good reason). Give some praise to Unisuga and Sonoda, two long-time Falcom composers, for knowing when to bring the hype.

Why am I writing so much about music? Because Falcom is famed for their music and seeing the deterioration of quality in important parts of their soundtracks is very sad. This goes hand in hand with the fact that being the last game in the series, the area, road, and final/major battle/sendoff themes not standing out from the previous entries is a little sad. I do not want to see these games go the way of generic Tales music. The Cold Steel series as a whole has only really had two songs live up to the greats from Sky and Crossbell in terms of memorability, and those are the two sister songs “Decisive Collision” and “Blue Destination”. It’s not a coincidence that these two songs are incredibly popular as they are contextually extremely well composed.

There are other weird problems. The place where new songs and past songs are used during scenes is exceedingly odd. The boss gauntlet leading up to the final boss has two groups use “Belief” SAV as their fight theme, which I’ve heard too much for it to have any real impact (and style wise doesn’t feel like it matches the context, unlike how it fit the desperation fight against C in CS1 very well). “Blue Stardust” is used in a fight that does not match the context of the battle. “Sword of Biting Gale” (an absolute crap-tacular screechy song I might add) is used as the cavalry back-up theme even when other dramatic songs which would have matched the characters in question better are available. “Doomsday Trance” plays NONSTOP during one of the last parts of Act 1, for almost two hours straight! The game is entirely devoid of character-specific themes like CS2’s “Altina” or “The Witch of the Abyss”. “Ai no Uta”, sounds like some cheap romance anime breakup song and does not match the context of the ending scene at all (consider that something like CS2’s “Wakare no Toki” is the polar opposite of this situation). I could go on but there is a lot more, and you will notice this when playing CS4, no doubt about it.

The two final battle themes, while being good compositions, are probably the most forgettable final arc songs in Trails history. The first has no contextual callback and is simply a generic orchestra which could fit in any game or hell, a movie. The second one has pretty much the same criticism. What kills me is that during the final battle, all the major characters from each arc are fighting, so the fact that despite this huge combination of amazing characters, we could only get a generic orchestra battle theme? Not even an attempt to meld the history of each series together into a beautiful melody? This kills the hype.

Now I can already see you reading this review and coming up with some snarky comments as music is usually a touchy subject, so let me head them off at the pass.

Peanut Gallery 1: “Why do you care so much about Falcom music? lol just generic rpg shit.”
A: I too like 4chan level discourse, oh user who I am sure is a connoisseur of the fine musical arts.

Peanut Gallery 2: “All the music from each Cold Steel game sounds the same to me.”
A: Apart from being very insulting to composers who work very hard to make memorable tunes for you and generally being insulting to the craft of music composition as a whole, if you honestly think this you can skip this part of the review as well.

Peanut Gallery 3: “It sounds fine to me.”
A: Your standards are duly noted.

Peanut Gallery 4: “The new battle music sounds great, I love hearing crappy guitars, awful violins, cursed freestyle rap, and songs with no emotional depth or context. It’s my fetish to play devil’s advocate at all costs to protect my precious Cold Steel series.”
A: I can do nothing for you.

Peanut Gallery 5: “The title screen song in CS4 is based.”
A: Agreed!

WRITING QUALITY:

I’ve wanted to write this category for a while. As most people who are astute enough noticed, the writing quality has taken a serious dive since the beginning of Cold Steel 1 (despite XSEED’s best efforts at pruning away a lot of nonsense), but Cold Steel 4 has reached the apex.

Almost every scene in the game where there is a past event that the current cast doesn’t know about starts and goes like this.

Altina: “This was recorded during my time at the Intelligence Division. [Launches into long expository dialogue].”
Other character: “Oh yeah, I think I heard a rumor about that. [Launches into even more expository dialogue].”

AND/OR

Rean: “Oh yeah, I heard about this (you) from [insert character(s)]. This was [launches into long expository dialogue].”

This is seriously jarring because there are many characters and events that are extremely unlikely for any of these people to actually know. But it’s such a transparent attempt to catch people up or remind people of previous characters (hell, they do this for events that happened in the same game!) and the expository dialogue is so out of place that it feels extraordinarily cheap and bad. There is so much time wasted on this junk dialogue and sepia tone flashbacks that I have to wonder how much time would actually be saved if events and characters were merely accepted as they were instead of writing this crap. Freaking GILBERT is reintroduced like this, and I couldn’t believe it. It robs so much joy of rediscovery, and kills the intrigue for those who haven’t played the older games yet.

Cold Steel 3 had a pretty similar problem which is one big mark against that game but this is a CS4 review. I never want to see sepia Lloyd cocking his head like a rooster ever again.

The next thing I want to talk about is how much dialogue is wasted with very unnatural platitudes. It’s gotten so bad that even Japanese players are starting to beg Falcom to stop doing it. There is confluence between written language and spoken language which creates strange jarring effects during dialogue. The whole of the text needs to be refined and shortened into more natural language.

And before you ask, yes the “Rean echo” makes a comeback. That and the listing of every character’s name whenever something emotional happens. No, that’s not natural Japanese.

STORY:

Here we are, the big meaty stuff.
There are so many problems, I don’t know where to start. I originally wrote a far more detailed review, but even then I couldn’t cover everything I wanted to say. So I opted for a more general and condensed style of writing.
There’s a lot of dissatisfaction, but at least we can say Cold Steel is over.

In my personal opinion, the power of Trails games lies in the characters. The better the characters, the better the character interactions and character stories, the better the game. Well-developed characters are the strong foundation of memorable stories. If you divorce character development from the main plot and the fabric of the main plot development, you risk having a main plot that feels “empty”, with little consequence.

And that’s the main problem with CS4. It feels like an empty game. There is no sense of accomplishment or exhilaration. The stakes are almost never there. Even during moments where character developments in the plot puts forward a chance for characters to shine, the majority of things fall flat on their face or never live up to the potential set to them by the previous games. I’m not just talking about heroes either, but also villains.

The main reason for these failures comes down to the cast size. There are just way too many characters, period. This includes all the “guest” characters from other arcs that suck up the tiny remaining oxygen in the plot, and act like cardboard cutouts that were purely inserted into the game for nostalgia marketing grabs. There are so many loose ends from Cold Steel 1 through 3 (especially 3), that making Cold Steel 4 an “Everyone is Here” game was actually a big mistake because it acts like a logjam for plot movement. Old Class VII is merely just background characters, New Class VII happily joins them on the plot sideline soon after, and Rean returns to his blank-faced self-insert self. But that doesn’t excuse the game from failing to address or build on so many things built up to this point.

The villains either fight us for the most inane reasons, or fight for us for unbelievable reasons, or fight us because the curse dictates them to do, but we just merely handwave it off regardless. Shirley is probably the most jarring example of this, but the scene with Irina and Schmidt’s excuses was so unbelievable I well, couldn’t believe it, especially considering what they had done up to this point. Cao attacks New Class VII under contract and the game handwaves it off later, in a section with such perplexing writing that I couldn’t believe what I was actually reading (and before some dude pops in here with B-B-BUT SKY SC, the battle context in that game was handled 1000% better than this nonsense). Just like in CS2 with Vita, making every villain sympathetic and “totally on our side dudes” or “never did anything wrong, really” without even an attempt at developing and providing acceptable and believable context is just Falcom saying “we didn’t really properly develop this idea at all but we need these characters to be kept in the flow because we don’t want to write anything difficult so lol yeah just ignore all that past stuff”. Or “the curse did it” or “we were just testing your resolve” (the last one is especially weird from characters that have no business saying it???). This results in so many scenarios where I wonder why the hell we are even fighting to begin with and gives me the uncomfortable feeling that despite being part of the main plot, there is a ton of wasted time here and ideas that go nowhere.

And one more thing I wanted to mention. Falcom’s disrespect of the dead.

Every single character that gets killed in CS3 revives in this game, and the only people that are allowed to die are Franz (I literally cannot bring myself to care about him, and I doubt anyone else did either) Rutger (a character whose motives are so open and who fought us as often as he pleased that it is VERY difficult to care about him) and Arianrhod (probably the only well-executed death in the game, even if the way she died was a bit contrived). All of the incredibly convenient revivals, including the slow roll fanservice moment where Millium is wearing more or less a skin-tight bikini, undercuts all the themes that Falcom has been promoting since the beginning of Sky (saying goodbye and moving past death to save your world and not give in to hatred or despair). It also undercuts CS4 extremely hard as there are quite a few touching scenes where Crow has to accept his upcoming “death”.

This unbelievably convenient resurrections, restorations, and such completely kill the punch of everything set up from CS3. Is there any point in caring at all in the rest of the series if someone dies (or is about to die), no matter how important?

In an unbelievable end to this section, Falcom shows their total regret at actually allowing Loewe to die by letting him talk AGAIN, which is why I mention Falcom’s disrespect of the dead. They refused to let Loewe rest in peace. Can’t wait to revisit Loewe’s grave in every future Kiseki game so I can call him back from the dead like a 1-800 phone call! I almost feel like if Falcom could think of a stupid enough reason to revive Loewe from the dead for real, they would do it without hesitation, that’s how bad they’ve gotten with dealing with the concept of life and death.

Gilbert is one of the highlight returning characters from Sky but he is used way too much. I think I go against him no less than 6 times including (big) sidequests. I think he’s funny, but his comedy was repeated so much that Falcom ruined his shine, just like any repeated joke. At the very least his final scene is amazing.

Regarding the conclusion to the game. Osborne is magnificent as always, but the Olivier vs. Osborne rivalry from the 3rd never pays off, as the two never truly and properly engage each other after Olivier is revived. Rean does get a good conclusion with Osborne in the end, but Teo Schwarzer is never really introduced into the whole drama other than an explanation for how Rean was handed off to Teo. Which is 1 lost chance of 1000 of introducing some juicy family drama into the game, just like how the Alisa / Sharon drama was a complete dud (what awful writing for those parts of the game!).

Ouroboros has devolved into a joke organization. I’m not sure how I can make this much clearer. That’s largely the fault of Vita and Mariabell. I feel pretty bad for them nowadays, I remember fondly when they used to be a mysterious and threatening organization with awesome power. But who really cares about mysterious power and technological strength when Rean is literally Goku, ARCUS is a catch all powerup, everyone has orbal net and laptops, the Glorious got its ass kicked, and the Courageous II cannon can kill an Aion like it’s nothing? What’s Ouroboros going to do; send some tiny archaisms after our next heroes again for target practice? Cedric joining them is kinda poetic since Ouroboros became so pathetic.

On the same topic, McBurn actually turned out to be a real awesome character, and his scene gave me Sky vibes with how interesting and fun it was implemented. Like the rest of the characters in the game, he is really denied proper screen time due to character volume, but at least his scene was super cool and kinda endearing. I look forward to seeing him in the future.

A huge war breaks out due to the curse as Rean and company go to the final dungeon, and there is an awesome scene of the war beginning, but the fast conclusion to the war and the bringing of peace thanks to the killing of the curse is relegated to the plot cleanup monologue, which reminds me...

...tons of plot cleanup occur at literally the last minute, with Rean monologuing a drama CD script after you finish the true ending. This includes Rufus getting arrested (why the hell can Rufus get arrested but we are completely unable to arrest anyone else?). Stuff like the noble uprising (thus meaning that the whole “finding the answer to the noble and commoner divide” is more or less a failure; not like it was ever a focus again after the midpoint of CS3), the Crossbell Independence movement that has been teased for so long is completely wrapped up with some intensely described scenes that we never even got a chance to participate in... all of this is relegated to a few lines during this monologue… the whole time I was listening to this, I was incredibly sad that all of these interesting plot ideas that could’ve taken the place of filler was instead placed into a black screen readout. Such a huge disappointment.

I absolutely loved seeing the Schera and Olivier wedding, but I didn’t really like how Cold Steel characters took the spotlight in the final photo. It should have been a true, huge group photo with every character you can squish into the shot, with Olivier and Schera in the middle (Schera’s face is blocked by a tree!); after all, it is a big celebratory event in the whole Trails universe. And Rean being surrounded by girls and all the guys shoved to the side or back… like, really? How indulgent is Falcom really?

OK, I’ll stop here before I keep writing nonstop. But if someone wants me to write more leave a comment and I will cause there’s a lot to talk about and I definitely didn’t address all the characters and events, like the final boss being Ishmelga, Osborne’s Divine Knight who is the originator of the curse on the empire. Or you can tell me to stop writing. :)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

For those of you who scroll to the end of reviews to find a rating number or something, sorry, I don’t have anything for you. All I have is my final personal ranking for Trails games.

3rd > Zero > Ao > SC > CS3 > FC > CS1 > CS4 > CS2

CS4 like CS2 becomes more of a disappointment the more I think back to what I played.
I’m not here to dissuade anyone from buying the game, after all it’s the “conclusion game” so if you’re already invested this far into the series, there's no way you’re not going to buy it lol. If you don’t really care about the details and you don’t mind if context is all messed up, you should probably have a good time. You can enjoy it as a generic RPG, just like CS2.

People docked a lot of the game for the harem aspect, but I accepted that it was going to be part of the game since it was part of every Cold Steel game. You either accept it or you don’t. Yeah, it’s shitty, but that’s a consequence of the bonding system being shitty too. It’s not like the bonding events are bad, in fact they’re usually quite good when the characters in question are not sucking Rean off, but the very way they exist by nature is flawed, and everyone knows why by now.

CS4 has really tested my patience though, I won’t deny this. Trails games are no longer an automatic purchase for me. I’m going to be taking a good hard look at the next game… and who knows? If it doesn’t meet my liking, I have no problems stopping here and only playing Ys games from now on. I’m not gonna make the same mistakes I’ve made in the past like where I kept buying tickets to every successive Hobbit movie even though each one was awful. Falcom has a lot of refining to do and a lot of junk to throw out. End review, catch you on the outside.
 

Pringles

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,861
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Almost every scene in the game where there is a past event that the current cast doesn’t know about starts and goes like this.

Altina: “This was recorded during my time at the Intelligence Division. [Launches into long expository dialogue].”
Other character: “Oh yeah, I think I heard a rumor about that. [Launches into even more expository dialogue].”

AND/OR

Rean: “Oh yeah, I heard about this (you) from [insert character(s)]. This was [launches into long expository dialogue].”
Sounds like CS4 is a great place to start!

Great review, thanks for sharing.
 

PK Gaming

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,789
Disclaimer: I'm a Cold Steel liker, so this isn't an unnecessary dump post.

After playing through Fire Emblem Three Houses, I've gotta say... Falcom should have aped off the support system instead of the social link system from Persona. FE3H largely apes off Cold Steel's school structure, and while the characters are less "present" in the narrative, the simple fact of the matter is that the support system develops non-MC relationships in a way that's far better than Cold Steel.

Like imagine if Machias had bond scenes with Laura, Fie, etc. This is an old complaint, but it really just hit me after playing through Fire Emblem. I think these games would have been more fun if we had cut scenes like that between the other characters.

Oh well. Hopefully the next bridge game will deliver.