A consistently highly fun experience, which is rare for a VN of this length. I was mindblown by every route. The main character, heroines and antagonists are all good or great across the board, which is also rare for a VN. The soundtrack and art are very much "early 2000s VN vibes", in a good way.

This is basically essential reading if you're really into chuunige, given the fact that it is believed that this served as inspiration for Fate and Dies irae. Whether you're into other Nitroplus stuff like Muramasa, Light, Type-Moon or mecha, I would recommend it. It is pretty underrepresented in the western VN fanbase, especially considering that other 2000s VNs are usually the most popular and acclaimed ones. Unfortunately the sequel is literally unplayable except Windows XP, and even then it sometimes doesn't work.

Well, this is certainly a huge step up from the first game.

Unlike Fate/Extra, Fate/Extra CCC actually tries to utilise its setting in an interesting manner. The episodic nature of the first game is abandoned for a much more flexible story structure. The cast is kept small and mostly recurring from the first game in a very character-driven story. The extremely unenjoyable gameplay from the first game has auto battles and more interesting opponents added as a band-aid fix, but that's good enough for the most part. The music is amazing, KATE, James Harris and others from the original F/SN and F/HA return to give equally memorable soundtracks.

The story is far more ambitious this time around. Unlike just having an episodic tournament structure, this game sees a change of scenery and actually has a compelling overarching villain. This is one of the better examples of strong and emotional character writing in the Nasuverse, especially with how it's consistently good across the board with the entire cast. I also think I found my new favourite silent protagonist in Hakuno Kishinami (female version). She's not quite fully silent — the visual-novel style NVL text monologue sometimes leaks out as a dialogue that can be responded to by other characters, but still. Her struggles are very believable. The scenery in this game is more gorgeous than the first, with a recurring cherry blossom tree motif.

Unfortunately, despite consistency, this story still has plenty of meandering in the early couple of chapters. It feels like stuff just happens. Oh well. But the biggest actual problem is how you have to replay the entire game to get the true ending, let alone if you choose to do other servant routes, which have essentially the same ending. This isn't just skipping through a VN's previously read text and selecting a few choices, you have to re-battle everyone and redo puzzles. It was quite frustrating, I can't imagine doing this natively on a PSP instead of an emulator that lets you speed up the game drastically.

The peaks of the story and finale have made this the overall the best Nasuverse product for me, making me regain faith in Type-Moon after slowly losing interest over the years. I think Tsukihime Far Side and Heaven's Feel are better, but as an overall work, CCC is a clear winner.

The story has good ideas, especially near the end, and I'm glad that the MC isn't a 100% silent one. But even though I am probably the millionth person to say this, the gameplay is absolutely unenjoyable, probably my least favourite turn-based battle system that I've ever played. The game in general is underwhelming and episodic in the first half, with most of the thematic and interesting story moments coming later.

At least the music and visual style are very good, especially for a PSP game. Sadly, I was really only playing this for CCC, which was apparently Nasu's favourite project he worked on.

So, I was initially going to wait for a Japanese PC release, but the fact that it is nowhere in sight combined with me desperately wanting to see what happens next in the Trails series made me play this earlier than I expected. At least I got the latest update of the translation, and it reads fine.

The gameplay in this is the peak of the series, obviously, best JRPG combat ever. I'm curious as to why they nerfed S-Crafts even further by adding a cooldown though, they already nerfed them with S-Boosts in Kuro 1, so what gives? I like the addition of Quick Arts. The music is amazing in this, badass electric guitars all around.

My GOAT Renne shines here (as per usual), however her actual substantial scenes and contributions amount to about 30 minutes, otherwise she's a pure supporting character. You can see this as a conclusion of sorts to her series-long arc, though, which is cool.

The characters and plot are all over the place for me here. The plot, as you've probably heard from other reviews, does nothing to progress the overall Zemurian storyline (not inherently a problem, 3rd was, until this point, the most irrelevant game to the series as a whole and yet it was amazing), with the society doing jack shit in this, but it also doesn't do all that much to progress the remaining mysteries of Kuro 1. It does finish some loose ends, but for the most part it feels like a side quest before the actual sequel. I think Van being "too complete of a character", in a manner of speaking, contributes to this. His arc was, a couple mysteries aside, very conclusive in Kuro 1, so this one retreads old ground at times. It's honestly hard to describe... it just feels like shit happens in this sometimes, and that's it? Not something you often see in Trails. Maybe rushed is the right word?

The final boss is amazing gameplay wise, but after the novelty wears off for that and the story part of it, the ending is extremely underwhelming. Probably my least favourite ending in the series.

One thing I will give this game though, it really does help flesh out a lot of characters, they just aren't Van or Agnes. The pacing and structure for how these subplots are approached is another question entirely. You may have heard about how chapter 3 is one of the least liked chapters, that's definitely part of it.

I'll be waiting for Kai no Kiseki, but to be honest, I'm in no rush right now. Maybe I'll 100% Reverie or something (which would be a first for a non-VN game for me, I just liked it that much). Kuro 2 is not a bad game by any means, but the best way to describe it is that it's a mish-mash, a first mess of this kind since CS2 and CS4. It reminds me of those games the most.

Kuro no Kiseki 1 is absolutely stunning and plays like butter. I am by no means an expert on turn-based JRPGs, but I've played a few, and oh my God, this has the best gameplay of them all for me. Trails gameplay has always amazed me and been my favourite, but this sets a whole new bar. They revamped the combat system and now allow you to move across the map with just your joystick rather than it being a separate move like before, making the gameplay and strategising even more interesting, especially in regards to AoE arts. But also, before you even get into your encounter with an enemy, you can engage in action combat to either have an advantage when you get into combat, or to go through groups of enemies and level faster if you feel the need to. Trails games aren't grindy in general, but if you choose to grind, it'll not feel like one at all in this game.

The technical impressiveness goes beyond combat gameplay. Persona 3 Reload, a JRPG by a successful company released 3 years after this game, still does the thing where if you enter a building on the street, you get teleported into like a separate level, and also the encounter system where you get teleported from the dungeon into a separate stage and then get back out once you're done. Not in Kuro. You enter buildings like it's nothing, and go in and out of encounters in the exact same room you were in, like it's no big deal. Which means that if you get into one in a narrow hallway, you will have less space to evade AoE attacks. It's amazing.

The music is very inconsistent in this one. Some of the stuff is downright amazing (as expected of a Trails game), like the boss themes or the jazzy city music, but otherwise you get letdowns like one of the normal battle themes that I found uninspired by Trails standards. And the OP is really fire and gorgeous.

Van is an amazing protagonist. Likable, a grown 24-year-old and in a unique line of work that sets him apart from other Trails and many JRPG protagonists, his "solutions" agency that deals not in black or white, but in gray, makes for some interesting stories and quests. His journey is really cool too, but that's impossible to discuss without spoilers, so I won't.

Unfortunately, despite initially seeming like the automatic best Trails, it has some issues I can't look past. The biggest problem is the pacing in the middle of the game, mostly in the penultimate chapter and the first half of the final chapter. There is so much repetition and padding, even by Trails standards. I was shocked after this wasn't a problem in Reverie and early Kuro 1. I think I finally started to feel Trails burnout because of this. Additionally, the cast is compelling, but sometimes the chemistry feels forced. Lastly, I won't hold it against the game for this, but it feels a little... too complete for its own good, unlike other first parts of Trails duologies. I played a bit of the beginning of Kuro 2 and it honestly feels like an unnecessary follow-up. Outside of those issues I can see why this is "a return to form" as a new arc for many, though I did like Cold Steel myself.

Ultimately, a seriously good game, this series continues to amaze.

I genuinely have no words. This game has become my favourite video game of all time, with the exception of a single visual novel. It set a new standard that I think I'll have to readjust quite a few of my ratings now. It's honestly difficult to even begin describing how I feel about this game, but I'll try.

Reverie is both a love letter and epilogue to the first three arcs of Trails, as well as the prologue to what comes next.

From the homely Liberl, to Crossbell's history of oppression and melting pot of a culture, to Erebonia's oppressive yet fascinating existence. From Estelle and Joshua's journey, to Lloyd's unyielding determination, to Rean's saga. All of that was already settled in Cold Steel IV, but unlike the bombastic, massive battles where everyone (well, almost — sorry, Kevin) from every possible side joined to end the conflict once and for all, Reverie decides to focus on a smaller amount of characters and make them go through incredible character development. That's not to say the stakes are low, though — this is still a JRPG. And so, the game, before the finale is split into three routes (actually just POV chapters but whatever), between which you can usually switch at will.

Lloyd's route, despite being the weakest of the three, is something that his character definitely benefits from. We have seen the SSS fight tooth and nail for Crossbell so many times that they, and other people, have forced expectations onto them. The land of Crossbell has been under constant threat of dictatorship and occupation by multiple parties. They just don't want to leave them alone. In spite of that, though, our guy Lloyd, who would face down the sun falling from the sky onto him and would still get back up, is still Lloyd, and it's hard not to love him for it.

Rean's route is a fitting after-story for the completion of his arc in CS4. While that arc may have ended, having doubts after everything is said and done is natural. It feels very organic and fitting as a character study.

C is a newcomer protagonist, and compared to the other two in this game, is more morally questionable. As someone with a dark past, he bonds with other misfits with complicated backgrounds. It's honestly really difficult to talk about this any further without spoilers, so I won't. But I'll just say that he's incredible.

Making a shorter Trails game split into three routes does wonders for this story's pacing, while at the same time having a wealth of side content. This is probably the best paced Trails game since Azure, and possible ever.

Falcom is at its peak with the technical (or at least until Daybreak/Kuro, wow that game is phenomenal), visual and sound aspects here. This is a very stylised game, with probably my favourite Trails soundtrack, which is saying a lot. Every route gets their own battle themes in a fitting style, such as having the spiritual sequel to Zero's Get Over the Barrier! and Azure's Seize the Truth! in Lloyd's route and Crossbell, as well as C's route's tracks, which blew me away. Not to mention the wonderful OP track. The gameplay is pretty much the same as CS4, but no complaints at that front either, especially since I enjoyed the fights in this one more. Trails was already my favourite JRPG turn-based combat of all time, and this just further cemented it.

While playing this series I was wondering what about it works so well for me. Before starting Trails, I was wondering if a 500+ hour series can even be worth it. Seemed like a series that would not be amazing enough to justify such a lengthy commitment over shorter, yet acclaimed JRPGs.

Trails, when it wants to be, is a masterclass on what you can achieve with characters and world building in a JRPG. Well, of course the several hundred hour long series would have good world building, but it is impressive nonetheless, especially if you're a completionist. I'm not one myself, but it would be a perfect fit if I was. The amount of dialogue NPCs have after any given story event is crazy. And then there's the in-story lore and world. The regions in every game feel completely different, and if you go back to a previous region in a future game, it feels like coming home. Different musical styles, viewpoints, vibes, etc. It's not like Falcom made a carbon copy of Tolkien's world or something — to me, Zemuria is one of a kind. This variety extends to the characters, too. The protagonists of the games so far (Estelle, Kevin, Lloyd, Rean, C) couldn't be more different. Despite being a series with plenty of tropes, it has enough diversity to feel fresh every time. That includes thematically. It's impossible for me not to look forward to what they'll show me next, especially with this behemoth of a buildup. Trails is just special to me. This review I'm writing is longer than my usual ones, but it feels like I can always say more.

It's also impressive but kind of funny how this game doubles as damage control for people's issues with CS4. If you liked CS4, there's little doubt you'll like this a lot. And if you hated CS4, you will probably enjoys this a lot more. This game is as much Cold Steel 5 as it is Crossbell 3, and as someone who's greatly enjoyed both sagas, I couldn't be happier. I will probably do some side content in this game for some time, or maybe I'll take a break. Or maybe I'll just boot up Kuro 1 (Daybreak 1) ASAP. Who knows.

This game marks the end of one thing, but the beginning of another. Liberlian Bracers, Kevin, the SSS, Class VII, it's been a pleasure to witness your journeys. This is goodbye for now, but I'm sure I'll see you again... Someday, somewhere.

Wow, what a journey.

I'm not surprised this one is polarising, with people most often either yelling "peak fiction" or seeing this game as the one that messed up Cold Steel, or even Kiseki so far, right at the end. This game is a bit more difficult to write about than the other Trails games for me because it's so inconsistent. You have genuinely the worst padding in the series at times, and a lot of time wasted on stuff that doesn't amount to anything. On the other hand, you have some of the most hype stuff you'll ever see in a JRPG, and plenty of emotional moments.

On one hand you have MCU-level "Avengers moments" as opposed to the more organic ones in Zero to Cold Steel III (in CS4 they try to include everyone, so as opposed to something like Zero or CS3, they sometimes say/do their one thing then take a break from being in the story for a while relatively often), on the other hand you have some of the coolest stuff you'd dream to see in a connected universe that is only possible on this scale in Trails, such as 5-team dungeon raids and boss fights while old dungeon themes play in the OST. I am into so many long series with connected universes whose fans would salivate at the idea of even a fraction of this amount of crossover-ness.

It was difficult to decide whether to give this a 4/5 or 4.5/5, but I ultimately went with the more generous option since I enjoyed this more than CS3. It's definitely one of the coolest and most fun JRPGs out there, just heavily flawed and inconsistent, with both extremely tropey and generic ideas, as well as very creative ones that you don't see often.

Really looking forward to Reverie, I played the prologue and it's everything I've ever wanted. The best start to a video game I've ever seen, it has potential to be my favourite game of all time.

It's definitely flawed, I can definitely see where the complaints come from, but honestly, it's been a blast for me, and a major step up from CS1 and CS2. Definitely one of the better first parts of Trails arcs, not just graphically and with gameplay, but in terms of raw enjoyment and pacing. I might be in the minority with some of these, though.

A lot of first parts in Trails arcs are about exploration and character interaction, and I think the mentor/student dynamic in a school setting really helps with that. The more militaristic and sci-fi-ish setting really works for me. The field trips have some of the most fun episodic Trails content for me, and some of the cast being from Crossbell really brings an interesting dynamic to a cast that is for the most part from Erebonia. I also really like Rean in this one.

That ending really hit for me, as well. No idea how people waited an entire year for CS4 to come out like this. I immediately opened up CS4 and played the prologue, which blew me away, as well. The hundreds of hours invested into the series are definitely paying off. I will have high expectations for it and Reverie now. Let's hope that I end up being one of the people for whom CS4 really works, since I see extreme opinions on it more than anyone calling it mediocre or just okay.

So, I was sick in bed these past few days and have been going through this. At times it was the perfect thing to distract me as I got better, and at other times I genuinely think it gave me a worse migraine and fatigue than being sick ever did.

CS2 is weird because its peaks are higher than CS1's right from the beginning with its awesome premise, but it meanders more than CS1 or any of the Sky games ever did. You have so many similar dungeons that go on and on and on, with the game often involving repetition of slightly similar events or places in other areas in the middle of the game, as well as its later portion. Also, the game seems to never want to end, there's an epilogue after the credits to the finale, and then the intermission before the actual finale. I didn't mind it that much though because I really liked the Intermission and Divertissement chapters, but the actual last chapter being that long was unjustified. At least it was pretty emotional near the end, and the point it was trying to deliver was interesting. Rean's rival of sorts is pretty nice too, but I wish they had more screen time.

Overall a fun game, I'd put it above CS1. It is more ambitious than CS1, but more flawed for sure. I did play the intro to CS3 and the graphical upgrades that come with Falcom moving on from the PS Vita and years of technical advancement, as well as the improved gameplay and insane music have me very excited to play more.

Cold Steel I is a game that almost doesn't feel like Trails. It's 3D now, the MC is more anime than all the others (the entire female cast wants him + Persona dating social links), a vast majority of the plot is episodic city exploration that bloats the narrative more than the previous games ever did. But the high points, especially the last part, redeem it.

The music is great (an obvious statement about a Trails game, but noteworthy nonetheless), the combat system is a step up from Crossbell's, and it just feels fun to play, with even its duller moments being pretty comfy. It doesn't have Sky's comfortable and homely vibe, it doesn't have Sky 3rd's level of themes and character writing, it doesn't have Crossbell's consistency and high points overall writing wise, but it does have one thing that it crushes the previous games in — the rule of cool.

Rean (as of this game) is no Kevin, but his struggles are quite compelling, and more importantly, he has a katana, which is the coolest weapon a Trails MC has had yet. He is a cool swordsman. And Cold Steel is very cool when it wants to be. The last act some real hype moments that rarely work for me in videogames, and they were done creatively. I immediately booted up the beginning of CS2 because I just couldn't wait.

Despite at times looking like an obvious lower budget JRPG (why replace 2D character portraits with 3D models..? it took some time to get used to), and having a worse (IMO) art style than Crossbell, CS1 definitely has a nice visual style. Despite being the first 3D Trails game, once you get used to how it looks, it's really nice seeing environments that would have been previously seen from a 2.5D, top-down view in their full glory.

Overall, it's a heavily flawed, inconsistent, almost messy (you could even say it sucks sometimes) game, but when it hits, it's very exciting, and leaves you wanting more. I can't wait to see more of this journey.

This game is FUCKING CRAZY. I was skeptical over whether they'd top Sky the 3rd yet they somehow did.

I don't know how they did it, they somehow made three back-to-back 5-star, 10/10 games. This has NEVER happened to me in another series, even my favourites.

It's extremely emotional, the artstyle is awesome, it's fun to play (the small gameplay additions compared to Zero are appreciated), the characters are all awesome, they throw so many twists at you, the likes of which I haven't been this affected by since finishing my top 10 favourites across all media, that you can't help but binge. The backtracking is some of the least tedious in the entire genre from what I've seen. This is one of the closest things I've seen to perfection, from concept to execution, in my life. My only actual complaint is that the difficulty curve is kind of unreasonable in the last few fights of the game, but who cares, it was really hype.

And oh my GOD, the music... Trails already secured its place as #1 in terms of OST, beating Umineko, but this is on a whole other level. You have so many bangers, like the Azure Arbitrator or Mystic Core, but they're far from the only ones.

In terms of favourites, I'd place it around Utawarerumono 3. It's just that good.

I will be slowing down with my Trails binging and going through Cold Steel at a more leisurely pace so that I don't burn out but... wow, I'm definitely a fan.

Edit: NEVERMIND I HAD A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP THIS IS THE BEST SETUP GAME BESIDES UTAWARERUMONO 2, HOLY SHIT SOME OF THE MOMENTS IN THIS WERE EMOTIONAL AND HIT HARD, AND WE EVEN HAVE BETTER DOROTHY

I had no complaints with Zero until the last chapter, which was a bit of an underwhelming payoff, but until that point it was basically a perfect "setup game" with no dull moments. None of my issues from Sky FC are in this.

Aside from the mildly underwhelming finale, the "BRO WE'RE A CINEMATIC UNIVERSE BROOOOO" issue that I've been fearing with this series rears its head. In some aspects, it's really cool, what with the payoff for a character's arc in SC and 3rd (I started crying from it, it was so emotional). In others, you have the corny MCU thing of "heh, looks like I got here just in time!" and "wow [Crossbell character], you remind me of [Sky character]!" happening multiple times. I expect it to get both better with the payoffs, and worse with the corniness. But you take the good with the bad, I guess.

Otherwise, this is definitely one of the best JRPGs and videogames I've played. The combat system, characters, music, improved visuals from Sky, the Crossbell atmosphere, all of these contributed to a very fun experience. Can't wait for what Azure has in store.

Well, Trails has finally truly impressed me. This is definitely my kinda series after all.

3rd has decent pacing of things happening the entire time, though that is partially helped by its shorter length. The dungeon structure is preferable to FC's and SC's for me, and there is way less backtracking. It has a complex main character and a personal character-driven story. The combat system is mostly similar to FC and SC, but the way it ties into the story here more often is cool. Most of the 3rd music is the best in the series so far for me, especially the final boss theme and the OP.

Every problem I had with FC and SC have been fixed. Nobody is annoying anymore; a lot of the story is a love letter to the Sky games in general. Hell, some characters are better in this game than the previous ones. I even care more about Joshua and Estelle in 3rd than I did in FC and SC.

It's also got the majority of the emotional and dark moments (especially that one door) of Trails in the Sky. I genuinely cried to a few of them, which hasn't happened with Trails so far.

I will be continuing onto Crossbell with high expectations.

This game is gorgeous, the music is great, I like the characters and the gameplay is smooth like butter. The story is alright so far. The several year long wait was worth it. Really excited to play more

This review contains spoilers

While FC had a smaller scope and executed that very competently as setup for this game, SC aims for a greater scope and ambition, with what I think is more flawed execution. It turns into Trails in the Backtracking: Padding Chapter at times, though it generally didn't bother me (yes, even in chapter 8, turn on turbo), other than the final dungeon which was backtracking incarnate in identically looking hallways across multiple floors.

When in FC the game's main villain was most present right at the end and didn't have a very strong dynamic with the cast, though it was serviceable, the FC antagonist group, Ourorobos, are present throughout all of the game. Each member of that group serves as a foil to most people in the main cast, such as Renne for Estelle, Leowe for Joshua, etc. When in FC you had initially episodic stories that didn't connect until the end, you have a central plot from the get-go here. When in FC Joshua's backstory wasn't revealed until the end, it is front and center here. And when in FC the moral/themes of the story don't really come into play until the very end, they are pretty clear here from early on.

So what's the issue? Well, I think it spread itself thin despite having plenty of time to deeply develop all of these things.

I felt like Joshua's exile arc had too little screen time to hit hard before his return. And while Estelle is insanely charismatic and likable, more than my favourite protagonists across fiction, and I like her, I would resonate with other types of protagonists more than pretty much an all-good person. Well-adjusted, hopeful, "bright" protagonists have their place, and I generally like them, but they don't leave a long-lasting impression beyond their personality being charismatic for me. I get that there's a cool dynamic between Estelle and Joshua in the way that she brings him back into the light in a sense, and their romance is fine for me, but I dunno, I just don't care for it that much. Her connection with Joshua and Renne of trying to bring them back to the human side and tell them how to join in on the warmth of human connection is neat, but it doesn't really wow me. The ending was cool, but yeah. Joshua himself seemed to have more potential when he was in his edgelord arc, and his dynamics with Leowe and Weissmann are cool, but again, not enough screen time for them to truly resonate with me.

The supporting cast is much better in this. They all get deeper dynamics, and most of them have their backstories explored more, such as Agate, Schera, and Joshua, of course.

The theme that Weissmann discusses is very interesting, but unfortunately I feel like it was not featured enough to truly resonate with me. The game definitely did have the runtime for it, so I don't know what happened.

Also, what's up with the OST in this game? While some songs, like the opening, are great, I overall felt that the first game's soundtrack had both better and more atmospheric tracks on average, as well as higher highs. The final boss themes in SC feel a little more lowkey and for the worse, in my opinion. Still cool, though.

Overall though, just like FC, definitely a good game, but it didn't blow my mind. I am however excited for 3rd, as Kevin was really cool in what little screen time he had in this game, and Azure, which everyone is excited for at the point in my journey anyway. I think I prefer SC to FC for sure.