Developed By: Nihon Falcom Published By: NIS America Categories: JRPG Release Date: 07.07.23
The greatest strength of the Legend of Heroes series is its ability to weave together a multitude of grand stories across a cohesive and ever-expanding timeline, akin to the likes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Trails Into Reverie, the story only gets bigger and better. There are very few franchises that take this approach and even fewer that make it work. There’s an endless list of RPG’s that have many entries from Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy to Persona, Fire Emblem, and Pokemon. But there’s very little connectivity between mainline titles, if there even is any at all. This is where Trails shines.
Though Reverie may intimidate those who have not played the previous games. I have no doubt in my mind that someone will be thrown off by the fact that just a playthrough of Cold Steel I-IV would cost them well over 200 hours and choose not to invest. Falcom made sure that this wouldn’t be the case. While it mostly helps returning players who may have forgotten details over the last decade, new players can glimpse into the past with an extensive recap of the previous six games before they even start Reverie. In the main menu, there’s an option to read a retelling of every entry from Trails From Zero to Cold Steel IV. That’s nearly 10,000 words of backstory and lore to assist new players.
Thus Reverie becomes a very accessible game despite serving as an epilogue to the previous six titles. Obviously you will get the best experience if you go back and play the older games or at least one of the arcs, but if the time commitment is something that will stop you, you won’t be penalized starting here. The game as a whole is a smorgasbord of story, characters, and gameplay mechanics that will easily offer players a hundred hours or more of playtime. As mentioned before, Reverie serves as an epilogue to both the Crossbell and Erebonia arcs and as such, the plotlines and characters of both are scattered across the game.
This is good news for fans who have watched everything unfold over the last eight years and get to witness the last hurrah of their favorite characters, and oh boy are there a ton. I thought games like Fire Emblem had a ton of characters but due to Reveries “crossover” nature, this game truly takes the cake.
When you first start the game there are two distinct paths that correspond to the arc that preceded them. One is highlighted by Rean while Lloyd is front and center of the other. You start off the game with more than ten characters attached to Rean’s path and four attached to Lloyd’s. As you progress through the campaign, more characters are unlocked for each path while a third path is also unlocked. Lloyd’s side continues their path to reclaim independence while Rean’s side starts off looking for the missing Prince Olivert. There’s a lot of growth and character development but but because of its epilogue nature and ability to set up the next arc, Reverie is similar in nature to what Spider-Man: Far From Home was to the MCU.
The only thing I didn’t like was that it didn’t really feel like all routes were crafted equally. From a story perspective, Rean’s route was as close to being perfect as it could be. For a character that was front and center for almost a decade, Reverie did a great job at making Rean feel even more important, giving his arc and development even more time to shine. On the other hand, Lloyd’s path felt a little light in this department. At times, his story just felt more like a continuation instead of an improvement. The third path brings in a brand new protagonist and that automatically makes that path beefy because it’s all uncharted territory in terms of story.
Between the three paths, which you can freely switch between to an extent, there are well over 40 characters to play as. Not only do they all play an important role within the story and dialogue but they each unlock an entire extra layer to the gameplay and combat mechanics. The depth of the characters is further elevated through the use of fantastic voice work, which only appears to get better with each installment thanks to the team at NIS. The game features an incredible cast of returning actors including Sean Chiplock and Robbie Raymond as Rean and Lloyd, in addition to a ton of other great talent.
Each actor did a wonderful job with their performances. They all brought their characters to life and made certain that players are able to truly feel the emotion. The dialogue however, was just one halve of the stellar sound design, the other being music. Falcom employs an amazing team of composers for their games and I personally think that what they did with Reverie turned out to be one of their best projects yet. The soundtrack itself is massive, with 81 tracks totalling more than three hours of music, all of which is readily available on Spotify.
Having a massive soundtrack is one thing, but the music is really good as well. The soundtrack takes a different approach than what you’d find in most RPG’s and plays really well into the emotional aspects of the game. There are so many tracks that work really well with the environment and tone instead of just being a catchy tune. Once you put together the music and the voices, you’re left with an experience that’s just really fun to listen to. Reverie shines in the sound department by being one of the few games that has both music and voices that are in the upper echelon.
Looking past the sound design and story, the meatiest part of Reverie is the gameplay, which is what will take up most of your time considering how much there is to dissect in terms of combat, mechanics, and customization. Don’t expect anything significantly different that its predecessors as the gameplay loop is very similar to the older titles with a few new features here and there. But if you’re a fan of customization and in intense amount of detail, Reverie is the perfect game for you.
You’re going to spend countless hours crafting the perfect party for each path, and even after that’s done, you’re going to spend many more hours tinkering with the party layout. When it comes to building the perfect party, there are so many characters to pick and choose from. Once you have the right party members, you’ll spend more time fine tuning each of them. The game really is just a love letter to RPG fans.
From a gameplay standpoint, Trails Into Reverie is looking like it will easily be one of the best RPG’s of 2023. But once you add the the cast, music, and incredible story direction, Reverie transcends the genre and becomes one of the best games of the year period. If you’re already a fan of the series, this is a must own. If playing the previous games is a no-go because of the massive time commitment, Reverie will still be an amazing experience with the additional context but going back and playing the older games is the way to go if you can. Overall, Trails Into Reverie is an amazing epilogue and an even greater crossover.
Buy Now: $59.99
*Game Download Code graciously provided for the purpose of review