The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie Review

The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie is, essentially, the Avengers: Endgame of JRPGs. Or, more specifically, the long-running Legend of Heroes JRPG franchise. A handful of seemingly unrelated sub-series within the franchise began to slowly come together in major ways in the last few entries, Trails of Cold Steel III and Trails of Cold Steel IV. Back when those games came out and began developing this Trails cinematic universe though, there was one issue – half of the games involved had never seen an official English release. The Crossbell arc, consisting of the games Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure, are huge parts of this narrative web but could never be experienced by English players, causing the last few games to be more of an incomprehensible mess than a satisfying crossover spectacular. Today, though, those games are available in new English remasters, and fans can easily access every game needed in order to catch up with the franchise and send it off with a smile in Trails Into Reverie.

If you’re a newcomer, well, playing this will also feel like your Avengers: Endgame. There are fifty characters running around, and they’re saying fun stuff and blowing things up, but you’ll sort of barely understand what’s happening and have none of the long-running connection with the franchise needed for the smaller moments of payoff to catch your attention. Trails into Reverie is an epilogue game that mostly aims to wrap up every remaining plot-thread from the Crossbell arc and the Cold Steel arc, with the protagonists of both games and all of their supporting crewmates returning.

A lot of these threads are minor things, like side characters getting one last hurrah or the Crossbell crew touring their familiar town one final time – it’s a lot of stuff that serves to celebrate the long-winding story and give fans plenty of callbacks that make the effort to play through nearly a dozen full-length JRPGs feel so, so worthwhile.

There are still plenty of twists and unexpected developments to power through, though – alongside Crossbell hero Lloyd Bannings and Cold Steel protagonist Rean Schwarzer is a third protagonist, the masked man C. Whoever he is, he’s dressed like the leader of the Imperial Liberation Front from Cold Steel I, and is accompanied by former assassins Swin and Nadia, characters who were only ever mentioned in a collectible in-game book series from Cold Steel IV. As mysterious as he is, C has deep connections to the lore, and seeing those mysteries unravel adds an excellent wrinkle to the plot.

It’s all made a lot more satisfying by the new Trails To Walk system. Our three protagonists follow their own routes and their own chapters within the larger narrative, and you can swap between them at any time to follow their stories in whatever order you wish. Progress is gated within chapters, so you’ll need to finish all three protagonist’s routes within the chapter you’re on before you can move on to the next. It’s such a satisfying system – not only does the split of protagonists help the gargantuan cast all get time to shine by slotting them into three smaller sections of the larger narrative, but the ability to hop around the story gives things a bit of a non-chronological flair that make piecing the story together a load of fun. It isn’t nearly as mind-bending as something like 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, mind you, but it’s still a fresh take on storytelling for the franchise that helps keep Trails into Reverie from feeling like just another Cold Steel game.

Those distinctions are especially helpful in making Trails into Reverie feel like a step forward, because the combat and gameplay have seen very little evolution since the prior game. Rather than reinventing the wheel, this game takes the mechanics and systems of Trails of Cold Steel IV and simply amps everything to 11, like a Rainbow Edition of Street Fighter. You’ve still got four-character parties and the usual suite of abilities like Arts, Quartz, S-Arts, Combat Links, and all the other systems and abilities the series has piled on over the last few entries. A couple of new tools get added to your kit in this game, though – United Fronts let you spend your Assault Gauge to bring your whole party and any characters in the standby crew into battle for a massive beatdown – seeing ten of my favorite characters on-screen at once was the sort of silly, over the top fun that felt welcome in a victory-lap style game like this. Balance be damned, just toss everything at your opponents and have fun.

It’s a shame that this game requires so much homework to be prepared for, because it also introduces a massive secondary mode that I feel like any JRPG fan would get a huge kick out of if it were a standalone experience. The Reverie Corridor is a massively randomized dungeon crawling experience that throws everything and the kitchen sink at you. All 40 characters from the three routes of the main story can be used in one party, letting you put together wild dream combos of your favorite characters or most overpowered crewmates. Just having this endless dungeon sandbox to mix and match characters in is fun enough, but the reward loop kept me coming back over and over.

See, as you explore the Reverie Corridor, you’ll find Sealing Stones of different colors. Gold stones unlock new characters, including ones normally not playable in the main story. Red stones, meanwhile, unlock ridiculous minigames like the beach-episode-simulator Beachside Vay-Cay or the magical girl bullet-hell Magical☆Alisa LS. Blue stones, meanwhile, unlock a huge variety of side-story episodes called Daydreams that give you short vignettes involving scenes and characters that don’t get as much of a spotlight in the main game. Finally, silver stones give you new equipment and consumables to help prepare you for deeper dives into the Reverie Corridor.

Honestly, if this mode was spun off into some kind of standalone JRPG roguelike with the same wealth of unlockables and absurd minigames but less of a direct tie into the canon of the past dozen games, it would be such an exciting remix of the usual JRPG formula. The randomized stone unlocks have the tinge of a gacha-games randomized character rolls, but with no microtransactions in sight and guaranteed stone drops, it’s oh so much healthier and even more satisfying. The combat in Trails into Reverie already feels like letting a kid loose in a toy store with an unlimited budget, but the Reverie Corridor turns it into an endless three-in-one toy store that I never want to leave.

Eventually, though, I do. The main story of Trails Into Reverie is still there for me to explore, and even bring some upgrades into from my time in the Reverie Corridor. This game ups the presentation and production values noticeably, making big story scenes just a little more exciting with stylish animated cutscenes and a full English dub that must have been a mission and a half to cast and record. If Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure had still be un-localized by this point, my feelings toward this game likely would have been entirely opposite. It’s a game so deeply steeped in the events and memories of that Crosbell duology, so finally having the experience of those games under my belt gives me a huge appreciation for what the last two entries set into motion – and what Trails into Reverie so perfectly sends off.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie is a crossover epic over a decade in the making - and it sticks the landing so well. Longtime fans of the franchise are in for an almost overwhelming level of callbacks, story conclusions, and narrative fanservice. In-between all of that, the endless Reverie Corridor provides an addictive way to dig just as deep into the combat mechanics as the story digs into the furthest reaches of Trails lore. This is a massive ending to a massive saga, and as long as you've kept up with every entry so far, you're guaranteed to enjoy it.
  • Addictive, expansive Reverie Corridor
  • Like Avengers: Endgame for long-time Trails fans
  • Improved cutscenes and story pacing
  • Combat learning curve can be massively steep
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I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.