Nihon Falcom has come a long way since its early days but have continued to produce wonderful content that always outshines their previous works. The Legend of Heroes series is one of their prominent titles that serves as their mainstay for the entire Nihon Falcom brand, alongside the ever popular Ys, Trails in the Sky, and Crossbell. Those who’ve dabbled with both Cold Steel I and II will be pleasantly rewarded with greater depth, well-rounded gameplay, and a captivating story that will keep you glued to your TV for hours. The Legend of Heroes: Cold Steel III maintains the consistency that Nihon Falcom is known for in terms of its battle mechanics, ensuring that players both old and new can jump straight into the action without much concern. With all that being said, is The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III a worthy purchase? Keep reading to find out!
What to Expect
One of the more compelling reasons why The Legend of Heroes series continues to shine resonates solely around its impactful story. You have a strong and bold main character Rean, who leads his team into battle with confidence, while his comrades are always there to support him even during his darker moments. This sort of story may sound cliche to a lot of people but what really compliments it all is the outstanding gameplay that you’ll likely find only in the Trails of Cold Steel series. Most notably, in Trails of Cold Steel III, devoted players will notice a slight increase in speed pertaining to gameplay and transitioning from traveling around straight into battles. Things feel more seamless and polished, which is a big plus and as mentioned before, much of the traditional aspects of the turn-based gameplay that made the series so adored are still very much in-tact.
Without entering into spoiler territory, we highly recommend new players who haven’t played The Legend of Heroes series, to play the previous two in order to gain a grasp of what takes place in Trails of Cold Steel III. Much of the events that take place in The Legend of Heroes: Cold Steel III are largely contributed to the previous titles, but take place one and a half years after Cold Steel I and II. Rean Schwarzer has been officially ranked as a military professor for the new Class VII and much of the story revolves around him, alongside his current students as well as his military mates from the past titles. Think of it as playing catch up and getting to know more about Rean’s backstory, as well as what every other character has been doing since their last encounter. The story is sure to provide some appeasement some fans of Trails in the Sky as Tita and Agate make their appearance, alongside some other notable characters we’ll let you discover!
One thing that we love most about Nihon Falcom is their willingness to stick to what they know, without compromising anything. They will throw in some extra visual improvements to of course keep up with the times, but overall they always ensure fans that their notable style will never wane. In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III everything looks very much the same as it did in the previous titles albeit some changes to character models to make them look a little more realistic, and show maturity. Level design is solid and once again tries to maintain simplicity, and give more attention to the gameplay which is important. The UI still remains intact as well and doesn’t get in the way of gameplay at all. Everything is very easy to navigate and find which creates an overall sense of freedom while focusing on battling enemies along the way.
This area is perhaps the greatest aspect of the Cold Steel series, perhaps even Nihon Falcom in general. The music in every title thus far has always exceeded our expectations with its excellent fusion of emotional tones that really sink in once you start getting deeper into the game. The soundtrack is one of those that, when you hear a track come on you know right away what you’re getting into. That’s the mastery of Nihon Falcom when it comes to their music selection, as they know how to draw out the emotion from the player immediately and fans can easily pick up on what songs refer to what scenario within the game. A softer tone is likely to be used during your school sessions or during your excursions to other towns in the area, and the more intense and verocious sounds typically accompany players during very serious moments like battles, or very prominent points in the story. This, paired with great voice acting in both languages, really help to create a seamless blend of spectacular gameplay and a riveting narrative.
The Legend of Heroes: Cold Steel III to be honest hasn’t really changed from its previous iterations as we’ve stated earlier, but we did notice the upgrade in speed pertaining to transitioning from traveling into battles. All of your options via the battle screen are all situated towards the bottom of the screen and much like the previous titles, you’ll be able to choose your Items, Arts, Crafts, Move, and of course run away if things are getting a bit too wild. Playing on the harder difficulty in Cold Steel III really helped to create more intensity during battles in the wild, as enemies were much less forgiving and their attacks did more damage than they would when compared to easier modes. This encouraged us to really take everything more seriously and since everything is turn-based we’re able to really decide which actions make the most sense in the situation.
Taking advantage of your Arts and Quartz in this game are so imperative as elemental-based along with melee attacks help out so much to break the balance of enemies, allowing you to dish out more damage. Knowing just what attack to use takes a lot of thought since every enemy will respond differently, in spite of whether that enemy is susceptible to your attacks or not. An example is when we were in battle, Kurt has the Wind Element advantage and Altina has the ability to quickly decipher the enemy’s weak points before engaging them. Once we knew that the enemy was weak to wind we did our best to use Kurt as much as possible to deal damage but surprisingly, in spite of the advantage the damage output just wasn’t high enough. So we had to rely on Juna’s close ranged blows to create an imbalance and cause break so that we could accumulate more BP (Brave Points) and allow Kurt’s attacks to deal the necessary damage. So a lot of the time, the game encourages you to really think outside of the box and while you might think you have the advantage, it’s important to always stay on your toes because anything can happen.
The Legend of Heroes: Cold Steel III really encourages teamwork and knowing what attacks to utilize at what moments, saving the more critical damaging blows for when they truly matter most, which is usually towards the end of the battle. In spite of all the positives that we’ve stated about Cold Steel III one issue we seemed to run into a lot were the camera controls. Often times the game would just randomly shift the camera into an awkward position as we ran around various locations, which at times put us into battles that we didn’t want to engage in. It was a tad bit annoying but it didn’t really affect the gameplay a great deal which is a plus in the end. You’re able to change the camera options via the menu should you choose to go with the inverted controls but that’s of course a preference.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
The Legend of Heroes: Cold Steel III truly delivers on all fronts in spite of the small camera hiccups that we encountered along the way. Much of that is outshined by the wonderful story telling, strong character development, and truly engaging gameplay that will take you plenty of time to work through. Every chapter is long and will require all of your attention since there will be moments that the game will test you to see just whether you were focused or not. It’s not that your decisions will affect the game or anything but it’s important to stay on top of things because the story is so entrenched with depth that one little small detail missed can throw you off later down the road. This is why we love the series so much because it lures you in and keeps you there for a very long time. It encourages you to really dive deeper and even complete the side missions because there’s information that you can pick up on through them as well. Everything is connected so beautifully and the ending really puts everything into perspective, so please, do your best to complete the game and look forward to when Cold Steel IV hits the western market!
Nihon Falcom at its best once again by providing us with an excellent soundtrack!
Voicing in the game is always top notch and has never disappointed us since the beginning!
Cold Steel III is a vast improvement over Cold Steel II in terms of pacing, while still ensuring players that the gameplay remains intact.
You can play this game for hours on end without even knowing you’ve been playing for hours.
The only real concern that we found was the camera controls but it didn’t really create any significant issues.
The overall formula for the series hasn’t changed much which can be good or bad depending on the perspective of the player.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We hope you will find our review of The Legend of Heroes: Cold Steel III to be an insightful one, that provided you with enough information to ensure a better purchasing decision. As fans of Nihon Falcom and the Cold Steel series we highly recommend this to anyone coming into the RPG world because it’s a fantastic adventure that you’ll never forget. Be sure to check out our reviews on the previous titles, Cold Steel I and II and let us know your thoughts below!
Until next time!
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!