A few months ago, Trails fans in the west were finally treated to the official conclusion of the Crossbell duology with The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure, which weirdly came out here after the release of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV, a game that I likened to Avengers: Endgame as far as its magnitude, because every Trails game before it led up to that. While it pretty much ended the Erebonia and Crossbell arcs, it’s actually Trails Into Reverie that ties those arcs up in a neat bow.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails Into Reverie takes place a few months after the events of the Great Twilight in Trails of Cold Steel IV. Crossbell is once again on the brink of officializing its independence and, like clockwork, that has been threatened by the likes of a combination of various villains from previous Trails games including Garcia Rossi, Dieter Crois, and Rufus Albarea. Without delving too far into series spoilers, every single of one of these guys were in police custody, but bad guys are bad guys.
Setting Trails Into Reverie apart is the game’s story told from three separate perspectives: one from Lloyd Bannings, the captain of the Crossbell Police’s Special Support Section (SSS) and main character of Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure; another from the perspective of Rean Schwarzer, the leader of Erebonia’s military academy’s Class VII and main protagonist in the Cold Steel games; and the mysterious masked C. Not much is known about C aside from the fact that he’s taken the same moniker as a character that led a terrorist group in the original Cold Steel, but it surely isn’t the same person. Using the “Trails to Walk” feature, players will be able to take part in separate storylines as they please before the characters eventually come together.
With that, this isn’t one of those games you must beat three times to experience everything. The story is presented in such a way where you can’t “overplay” as any of the three characters since the game will prevent you from moving forward until you’ve played through enough of another character’s storyline.
The game does a solid enough job with pacing to make these walls not feel like limitations. Both Lloyd and Rean have supporting characters that fans hold to high regard, such as the entirety of the SSS for Lloyd and the old and new members of Class VII for Rean to help fans feel invested with their stories. C has a bunch of newcomers with him, but the game does an amazing job with its agency in making you care about them while still ratcheting the plot up–especially when you find out who C is. When I found out who he was, it was his story I attempted to do first with every chapter, just because I was so captivated by both this character and supporting cast.
Sort of tying this all up and giving the title meaning is the Reverie Corridor. It’s essentially what Phantasma and the Old Schoolhouse were in Trails in the Sky the 3rd and Trails of Cold Steel with the main difference being it doesn’t affect the main story. In the game, this is where all three paths most commonly converge, and every character conveniently forgets what they were doing in real life before they get there, and when they get back to the real world, they forget the Reverie Corridor actually existed but “feel stronger.” It happens quite a few times in the game, but after the second trip you could go in and out of the Reverie Corridor at will through Trails to Walk system.
The reason I mentioned that the Reverie Corridor “sort of” ties everything up is it doesn’t essentially add anything to the story aside from give you a dungeon to continuously grind. Until the endgame, it’s literally here for the purpose of grinding and engaging in activities that don’t have any effect on the plot. That said, as useless as it can be perceived, it’s a whole lot of fun and offers everything from further character development, to minigames, and fan service–both kinds.
The Reverie Corridor essentially serves as a central hub. It’s very much a recreation room set in a different dimension with the central activity being dungeon crawling. As you progress through each floor, you’ll find enemies even more challenging than the last, and a whole lot of gear and items that’ll go a long way in making the game easier. In addition, you could use just about every character that’s ever been in the series to also have conversations with every character. As we’ve mentioned in just about every Trails review, the lore runs deep, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see each character’s personality shine through the dialog.
The Reverie Corridor is also quite the place for further character development. As you grind your way through the Corridor’s numerous floors, you’ll obtain a variety of different colored gems that you can use in a gacha-like system to unlock several different things: Gold gems unlock extra characters, blue ones unlock playable side stories, red ones unlock minigames, and silver stones give you a bunch of consumables you can use in battle. There are also silver fragments which only give you one item. Almost everything unlockable from these stones is random, but characters, side stories, and minigames are finite, so you don’t have to worry about pulling duplicates in that situation. It’s a weird system to have in the game, but it works well for what it does, and the whole idea is to keep you playing even after you finish the main story, so it’s not really a knock in the creativity department.
Unlocking characters is totally weird though, because these include characters that aren’t even in the game’s plot. I’ll refrain from naming exactly who can come out, but it further shows that that there isn’t any real use for the Reverie Corridor aside from grinding because you can’t use these characters in the main story. You can, however, use them as a Tagalong character outside of the corridor which allows you to use their Brave Orders and other assist abilities which can really help if you’re someone that likes to min-max stats while playing in harder difficulties.
At that, the playable side stories are enjoyable. If you’re playing this game, you’re probably someone that enjoys the Zemurian lore and the stories surrounding many of the characters you’ll meet. Some are more meaningful than others, as there’s a point in the game where Swin and Nadia (supporting characters in C’s story) are already familiar with Rixia Mao, and one of the side stories goes over that connection. Some stories tread weird anime filler ground, as there’s an episode that takes place at the All-Girls academy in Erebonia where you must use Kurt Vander and cross-dress not unlike the way Joshua did Trails in the Sky. It’s fan service in the most enjoyable and silly ways of presenting it.
Then there’s the minigames, which are quite prevalent in Trails into Reverie. Two of which have been seen in the series before, as both the card game Vantage Masters and the match-3 game Pom Pom Party are playable against almost every character in the game (with an achievement behind beating everyone), and there are some that are exclusive like “Who Wants To Be A Miranaire” where you just answer Trails-related trivia. There’s also an on-rails shooter that tries its best to parody Sailor Moon using the women of Trails games. These minigames reward you with more gems including optional costumes to dress your characters up. That’s where the weird fan service comes in, and it gets weirder.
For better or for worse, the Trails series also has quite the memorable moments of romance. While you don’t really romance anybody in Trails Into Reverie (because Lloyd and Rean already make their selections in their respective games), there’s an optional beach day sidequest where you can ride a jetski with the girls or chop some watermelons with the guys. The most awkward thing here is having a drink with your favorite Trails girl, and sparking conversation that’ll make them fall in love with you in the game. You have the Trails girls in full 3D and full control of the camera, and if you decide to look at their “assets,” dialog can change. The PS4 version of the game supports VR here, but again–awkward.
All of that aside, the Reverie Corridor is what you’ll make of it. You can think of it as being totally useless, or you can use it to really get a full grasp of the inner workings of Zemuria for every character if you really want to.
Aside from the Reverie Corridor, nothing about the series has made any drastic changes outside of battle. Fishing and cooking are done in the same way as other console entries to the series, and when it comes to combat, the main new features are an upgraded ARCUS system that gives you access to more powerful quartz, and a new ability that you can use to make every character in your party attack enemies in one turn while yelling something from The Three Musketeers.
Despite being the first Trails game on the PlayStation 5, the game doesn’t actually look or run better than it does on any other platform, including the Switch. It’s faster, but that’s about it. If you need advice on which version of the game to get, I’d pick the game platform that has the save data from Trails to Azure and Trails of Cold Steel IV. You’ll unlock several items to use if you have those games, but if you decide to switch platforms (let’s say because you want to play in bed and you can’t do that on PlayStation unless you’re using Remote Play), that really isn’t a big deal either. As far as it’s length, even with the Reverie Corridor considered, Trails Into Reverie is probably the shortest 3D Trails game I remember playing, as I rolled credits about 50 hours in. So with that said, is this worth your time and money to get a game that’s “much of the same” in what’s become a really crowded year? It’s still a resounding yes for any fan of the Trails series, but that in and of itself can also be a problem.
The Trails series just might be the best modern and ongoing JRPG series around, and while it isn’t groundbreaking, Trails Into Reverie is yet another great entry to this series. The problem is the best thing about the series; it really only caters to its fans. The people who are going to enjoy Trails into Reverie the most are going to be the people that also played through every game in the series, most notably Trails From Zero, Trails to Azure, and the four Trails of Cold Steel games. That’s well over 300 hours of gameplay that doesn’t even include sidequesting. That’s a hard sell when we’re just coming off Tears of the Kingdom and Final Fantasy XVI coming out just a couple weeks ago. It’s just easier to dive into those.
As a fan of the series, I’d tell you it’s all worth it, and even though we were provided copies of the game for review, I’m still buying it on every platform to help do my part in making sure this series continues in the west. So if you plan on diving into the Trails series one of these days, by all means…
Check out our reviews of other “Trails…” games!
The Erebonia Arc:
– The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (2016)
– The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II (2016)
– The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel – Decisive Edition (2019)
– The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II – Relentless Edition (2019)
– The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III (2019)
– The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV (2020)