[Review] The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie
Release Date: July 7, 2023
Publisher: NIS America
Following the steady drip of titles from Falcom’s Legend of Heroes series, Trails into Reverie is the latest installment coming to western players. As before with Trails to Azure, our latest game is also interwoven into a storied timeline. This time, we’ll be following up after the events of Trails to Azure and the Great Twilight events of Trails of Cold Steel IV. With these stories being so connected, there are no ways to absolutely avoid spoilers for the previous games, but we’ll do the best we can in case this is your first introduction to the series. With this particular entry first launching in Japan, the Switch port will see the world of Zero/Azure in HD for the first time, and follow up almost immediately after the events of Trails of Cold Steel IV – the interwoven timeline for both lines of games finally converges, and both protagonist groups of Lloyd and Rean are joined by a third protagonist – the black-clad and mysteriously masked “C.”
As the tenth game in The Legend of Heroes story, Trails into Reverie seems to act like a way to tie up all the loose ends of the Crossbell arc as well as the story of Cold Steel. Regrettably, this makes it entirely a hard sell for newcomers, but for players of previous games, its the epilogue that they may have been craving since polishing up the other arcs. Considering that the recent releases of Zero and Azure are the only supported western releases for those games, it is highly recommended to go ahead and finish those out before diving into Trails in to Reverie, as the opening sequences alone will contain massive spoilers for Lloyd and his team’s story – but if you happen to not care about these sorts of things, then feel free to proceed.
For players that have played one or more of the connected games, there will be bonuses for having save data for the titles on your Switch. Various items will be granted to players, expanding whether or not the games were completely cleared. Additionally, bonding levels will also carry over so your hard-earned bonds will still be present within your teams. That said, even if you didn’t have save data or clear a title, there will be the ability to select bonds to max out, and there’s no real penalty for selecting them all. The only thing newcomers will truly miss out on are the bonus items for having the carryover data.
For full disclosure, even though I’ve devoured the Crossbell games and thoroughly enjoyed them, I did find difficulty in getting into the Cold Steel series. That said, I don’t hold any distaste for the characters or story, but I may lean a little bit biased towards Lloyd and his friends. As in past titles, Trails into Reverie is a story-driven and turn-based RPG – the battle system that has continued to evolve throughout the epic series has a couple more bells and whistles as usual, along with a few new additions to gameplay that feel not only at home, but absolutely enhance the core experience of the game and give players a little bit extra to look forward to at end game.
For combat, the biggest addition is the United Fronts feature. Multiple party members can use a special attack in tandem to deal massive damage to whatever unlucky enemy you happen to be facing. These attacks are so strong that in early game you can completely wipe out even the important story-related enemies and monsters if you play your cards right. Burning these abilities all at once will expend all of your party member’s Assault Gauge (AG) and you’re not just limited to attacks but can also utilize skills and healing abilities, which came in handy in more than one instance when I found myself in a pinch. There were some intermittent audio bugs where sound would cut out during special attacks, but hopefully a patch or update will address that at launch. Interestingly, the usage of United Fronts does restore users’ BP – which just like in previous titles can be used for Brave Orders, Bursts, and Rush attacks. The battle system really seemed to come together for this title, and I found myself quite satisfied with the amount of tools I had in my arsenal.
While the three parties in Trails into Reverie start separately, their paths will eventually converge. Before that happens, players can swap between the teams using d-pad and selecting who they’d like to pick up the story from the menu. At times, you’ll not be able to progress with one team or more until you progress with the others, so making sure to swap between them every now and then is absolutely integral in terms of progression. Story events will eventually tie the parties together and you can freely equip the characters as you like, and change their MQ and quartz, resulting in a lot of customization for play and opening up side content that may honestly be the best thing about the entire game – at a certain point in the story, you’ll get access to a place called The True Reverie Corridor.
I feel like I can’t not expand on this, as it quickly became my favorite thing to do, and if you’ve read any of my previous reviews of the Trails games, usually my favorite thing to do ends up just being mindless fishing for the myriad rewards at stake for slapping the Fishing Guild with all the trout you end up keeping in your pockets. This time, though, I was thoroughly impressed by the True Reverie Corridor, which is a bit of a carryover from Trails of Cold Steel II’s original Reverie Corridor. Like its predecessor, it’s a large and sprawling dungeon located in an extradimensional space and consists of multiple floors – this is where you can mix and match your party across the various routes and acquire sealing stones by defeating ultra strong Guardian Beasts.
Sealing stones are a bit of a strange currency, and can be used to unlock a variety of content in the game. As the stones come in multiple varieties, farming them out will allow you to exchange them for different things, with some allowing you to unlock additional playable characters, mini-games, item assortments, and even small side episodes that take place before the main story. The amount of extra content available to those who spend time on the True Reverie Corridor is honestly quite expansive and made it well worth the grind in my opinion. This easily became my favorite way to spend time and I quickly tried to collect every additional character that I could.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie ended up being a game that I simply could not put down. With three separate paths to explore, an incredible amount of side content to unlock, as well as the ever-exhaustive list of side quests to tackle and places to explore, I never seemed to run out of things to do. While I definitely could take a break to fish or simply grind out a few levels if I chose, I was way more engaged with the story and side content than I have been in past games. Personally, I think this one has shaped up to be the best Trails experience that I’ve had so far, and has really lit a fire under my tail to go back and pick up the Cold Steel series again and give them another shot.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie eventually converges three separate paths into a wonderful end point for two incredible storylines, adding a bit more mystery and expanding upon the loose ends left at the end of its respective arcs. While the series is still ongoing with more games on the horizon, this title proves to be a glorious endpoint for both Lloyd and Rean, setting up for more future cameos that I’m sure we’ll see in subsequent releases. The addition of the mysterious “C” also seems to setup for even more content, so fans will likely be scouting for him in upcoming titles. With the ever-changing True Reverie Corridor’s unique way of giving us additional characters and content, the ever-reliable fishing, and incredible world building, there’s plenty to do and see for any Trails fan. If you haven’t picked up the preceding titles, definitely try to do so beforehand in order to maximize your enjoyment. Heading in blind will definitely impact the enjoyment of its predecessors if you ever choose to pick them up, and for a series as storied and wonderful as what The Legend of Heroes series has to offer, you definitely don’t want to miss out.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie copy provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.