The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie Review – A Legendary Capstone

    Title: The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie
    Developer: Nihon Falcom
    Release Date: July 7, 2023
    Reviewed On: PS5
    Publisher: NIS America
    Genre: Turn-Based JRPG

The Trails series’ intricacy and interconnectivity are always evident, yet can’t ever be overstated. The further you progress throughout these games, the more player history and experience they require to wholly appreciate and understand. This philosophy is the crux of the latest localized release, The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie.

This entry is a capstone on the Crossbell and Cold Steel sagas, uniting characters from the previous three arcs of titles. And despite the unprecedented scale and ambition that could’ve easily amounted to shallow fanservice, Trails into Reverie managed to provide the best crossover I have ever experienced, making it my favorite game of all time.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie occurs after the events of Trails of Cold Steel IV, following the Great Twilight and Operation Jormungandr. With the continent of Zemuria now at relative peace, the casts are returning to their usual lives while dealing with political strife and inner ramifications. The Special Support Section, for instance, is trying to finalize the liberation of their homeland of Crossbell, while Rean Schwarzer has resumed his teaching duties in the midst of grappling with whether he even deserves this state of contentment he’s achieved.

However, circumstances run amok yet again, with Crossbell occupied once more and certain people in power ending up missing. Moreover, a new cast of characters somehow ties into the current goings-on. These three seemingly disconnected narratives; Lost Symbol starring protagonist Rean Schwarzer, Day of Reindependence, featuring protagonist Lloyd Bannings; and Miserable Sinners, with the new protagonist C, eventually unite via unexpected commonalities.

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Trails into Reverie features a system where players can swap between those three aforementioned storylines on the fly. While this may seem overwhelming, the game prevents you from progressing too far in one arc, so a crucial balance is kept, ensuring you remain as equally attached to each of them as possible. Further, they occasionally interact in clever ways, subtly reminding players of their interconnectivity before the plots become all-encompassing. As for the arcs themselves, they’re undeniably excellent, easily rivaling the best stories of the series up to this point.

Rean’s route emphasizes his inner strife in a truly ingenious way carrying over from the end of Trails of Cold Steel IV, further cementing him as one of my favorite protagonists. Those close to him, too, like the new Class VII, receive terrific focus. Kurt, in particular, gains much-needed limelight following his more static characterization in Trails of Cold Steel III and Trails of Cold Steel IV. As for Lloyd’s route, I was pleasantly surprised by the execution.

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The SSS has been my least favorite cast in the series, yet the way they’re handled here is fathoms stronger than Zero and Azure. Their plight is far more personal, with Lloyd facing a conflict rooted in a contradictory philosophy that makes him feel like an actual character instead of a long-winded plot device. Additionally, this conflict is only possible because of the events of Zero and Azure, so it all comes off as a natural step forward for Lloyd and those accompanying him.

Regarding C, he and his route are honestly the most impressive in terms of staying power. Despite the cast being somewhat new, their relationships naturally fit in with the long-established characters, creating new dichotomies that feel at home with the series. All of these routes’ strengths are then enhanced by how vastly different their tones are. For those who have played the Cold Steel and Crossbell arcs, Rean’s and Lloyd’s routes embody those games’ atmospheres entirely. On the other hand, C’s story brings tonal freshness to the table that I’m positive veteran fans will appreciate.


Also, regarding C’s route are two characters who deserve a fair bit of emphasis: Swin and Nadia. These two are the main characters in an in-universe book called III & IX, which was a series of collectibles in Trails of Cold Steel IV. NIS America has uploaded the full book onto their official website as well, and the title screen of Trails into Reverie even has it all. So, you have ample enough opportunity to read up on these two pivotal members of the cast before beginning your journey. The book itself is bar none the best in all of Trails, and you’ll gain an indescribably higher degree of endearment for Swin and Nadia.

The strengths of the story and character writing don’t end there, though, because another of this game’s primary gimmicks, the Reverie Corridor, plays an integral part in innate franchise appreciation. Within this area, unlocked after making a decent bit of headway into the routes, players explore a procedurally generated dungeon housing enemies and rewards galore, including special items used for what I call a “fake gacha.”

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The currency of this fake gacha comes in various types, with the Red, Gold, and Blue ones being limited in acquisition. This is because the important rolls from the gacha are all guaranteed to arrive. The only luck you’ll have to contend with is the order of what you gain; you don’t have to worry about getting duplicates for the crucial rewards. This alone makes the “gacha” in Trails into Reverie the best I have ever seen in any game, as it still provides the thrill of randomness with rolls to amplify tension but never needlessly locks one out of character or gameplay content because of poor luck. The only random rewards are minor items, which is the best way to handle a gacha-like system. Another facet of randomness is a very limited number of Gold orbs spread throughout the corridor itself, though their rewards are also not duplicated.

As for what these significant rewards are, let’s perform brief dives. Firstly, there are plenty of minigames to occupy yourself with, ranging from a quiz show and a Magical Girl on-rail shooter segment with its own storyline to the returning Pom Pom Party Tetris-like minigame and mecha action sequences. None of these activities overstay their welcome, providing one of the most varied gameplay experiences you’ll experience in any modern JRPG.

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This truth becomes increasingly evident the more you progress throughout the Reverie Corridor and unlock characters from the fake gacha. The party members here are only useable in this mode, though considering how at least half of the game occurs here, that’s not really a detriment. With there being over 50 playable characters, RPG diehards will have countless avenues of customization to anticipate. Thankfully, some options make the process not overly lengthy or arduous. The organized shops, for example, have dedicated equipment menus for every character, so you don’t have to scroll through dozens of options to find updated weapons and armor. Additionally, the amount of Sepith and Mira you get is much greater than any other game in the franchise to account for the vast party size.

When throwing the familiar slot opening, Quartz types, and Master Quartz into the mix, party outfitting in Trails into Reverie is a pretty addictive affair. Still, similar to the appeal of the story, only those who have a considerable history with the previous titles’ combat systems will derive well-paced enjoyment and comprehension of Reverie’s battles. This point is reinforced by a new mechanic melding with the older ones.

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United Fronts is a new combat tool, enabling party-wide maneuvers requiring at least one Assault Gauge; the resource used for inflicting field strikes for preemptive attacks. You can choose between three types of United Fronts rooted in Strength, Magic, or Healing; each doing the self-explanatory while granting buffs depending on what you have selected. Strength United Fronts attack foes while increasing your Craft Points and raising your strength stat, for example. Combining these with Brave Orders, which all vary depending on the party member, adds to the waves of immense mid-battle party customization you can perform.

The last fake gacha reward I’ve neglected to mention is Daydreams, highly akin to the Doors from Trails in the Sky the 3rd, where character-focused episodes occur. These events are another massive highlight of the experience, emphasizing the perspectives and experiences of both the main stage players and those in the supporting roles. These are must-experience facets of the game that, in some cases, act as closure for arcs that have gone on for multiple games. Plus, in a few cases, the Calvard saga is teased, so newer players have a vague idea of what to expect from Trails’ future.

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Another element I truly love about the fake gacha is that the aforementioned Red, Blue, and Gold currency used to obtain the minigames, playable characters, and Daydreams are limited in number, with the game directly telling you how many you can get before needing to advance the main story. This transparency mitigates needless wastes of time, a highly appreciated incorporation given this title’s colossal scope.

Trails into Reverie is a tad different from previous games for other reasons; them being the (sort of) absence of sidequests and not as frequent NPC dialogue. The Reverie Corridor supplements this design change, and it never really bothered me because of two reasons. The first is how the Daydreams and minigames are side-content themselves, to emotive extents rivaling the rest of the series. Moreover, the Reverie Corridor has missions you can fulfill that grant Phantasmal Shards upon completion, used for enhancing the capacities of certain combat tools, gaining highly beneficial items, and more.

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And it’s not as if the main story is completely void of side material either since there’s a reminiscent ranking system like the Bracer Points of old. If you speak to blue-markered NPCs, defeat or lower bosses’ health in a certain number of turns, and investigate blue-markered spots on the map, you’ll gain RP; Reverie Points. These are indicative of your Liberation Rank, which can be checked in the Reverie Corridor, and reaching evident thresholds grants notable rewards for combat. Ultimately, when considering the returning fishing system and collectible books, Trails into Reverie feels more like a renewed approach rather than an entirely new slate.

Speaking of books, Trails into Reverie has most, if not all, of the major volumes seen throughout the series. From Gambler Jack and Carnelia to Red Moon Rose and Heartless Edgar, you can either catch up or refresh your memory on any of these in-universe penned narratives. Entire volumes can be found in singular chests within the Reverie Corridor, too, so they’re not stressful to find. As a fan who absolutely loves reading these books, having so many in one game like this is a literal dream, a “reverie,” if you will.

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Something else I adore in the Reverie Corridor is the character interaction that evolves as you progress the central narrative and have new characters join the fray. You can easily spend dozens of minutes just talking to the rest of the party, and it’s a delight. If you’ve been following these casts for nine games at this point, you’ll undoubtedly get a kick out of these exchanges. The soundtrack is also high up there, personally. While it’s not necessarily my favorite, I consider it a slight step up over what the final two Trails of Cold Steel games brought to the table. The Rean, Lloyd, and C routes have different battle themes alone, with the former two’s tracks inspired by battle themes from their games. So evident effort was poured into making these compositions simultaneously numerous and distinct.

It’s also worth noting that after completing the main story, the Reverie Corridor opens up significantly with even more story content, alongside more direct teases at what to expect from the Calvard arc. There’s an almost absurd degree of content here.

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Regarding localization, Trails into Reverie is terrific, with only a few typos I detected, so you truly have nothing substantial to worry about. Performance and such were also great on PlayStation 5, though there is one issue I hope is patched. The English voice acting is brilliant, even for the new characters who have not been dubbed before, yet their voices’ volumes are not equally balanced, so you’ll have some scenes where select characters are a decent bit louder than others, and it can become offputting. This isn’t a dealbreaker, obviously, but patching this oversight would be ideal. Further, and this may vary depending on the platform, the game would always crash only once after starting an episode of the Magical Alisa minigame. This would never occur per episode afterward and would act completely stable, but I figure it’s worth mentioning.

As for difficulty, the primary narrative isn’t all that challenging, though it can become so if you pursue the Nightmare and Abyss modes which don’t mess around. The end of the Reverie Corridor in post-game can also be pretty punishing, demanding you to pay attention to your overall party set up, even those in the back row, for their Brave Orders and such. Hardcore players can even raise the levels of enemies here to 50 or 100 plus, letting you go ham to your heart’s content.

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie is an amazing JRPG that expertly handles its extensive cast to conclude this arc. The pacing respects the long history players have had with these characters to deliver a narrative that respects fans. This isn’t a game for those who haven’t played the previous titles, as it addresses overlooked plot points and relationships that could spoil those games. It doesn’t bog down progression with feeble recaps and instead marches ever onward with confidence. Trails into Reverie is a reunion among reunions, a capstone among capstones, and a soul-stirring special experience you won’t find in any other game.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.