The first two The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel games were ones about young adults finding their place in the world. In particular, Rean is an adopted child of a nobleman, a new student at a major military academy, one selected to be part of an special class, a leader to his new allies, and eventually the Ashen Chevalier who awakens the Divine Knight Valimar. It was a lot to take in and accept in two games. While The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel begins with him being more established, what with actually graduating from Thors. But, a lot of what makes this entry compelling is how it still has him exploring his new identity.
Rean is a national hero because of the events of the Erebonian Civil War in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel I and II. He’s a public figure recognized by everyone. His reputation precedes him, with positive and negative effects. Ash is snide toward him initially. While he’s supposed to be teaching, he’s still getting assignments from Chancellor Osborne and being tasked with investigating Ouroboros. We see him getting close to fellow teachers at the branch campus, like Randolph, so they can get to know each other as actual people, and not by rumors or reputations. This third entry is about him growing into this identity that was established by actions in one war and how he’s going to live up to them after it.
For example, we get to see Rean come into his own as a teacher. Early on, he wonders how Sara managed to do it. He expresses the challenge he’s facing with just three students at the start of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III. But, it also shows how he begins to better appreciate the work she did and that other people did around him. So much so that other offers, perhaps even order, come in suggesting maybe he should be somewhere else. There’s this sense of him realizing what he needs to do as an educator and his value and worth as a teacher for the Empire. Especially as he starts to help people focus on their abilities and you see bonding experiences where he helps a student like Kurt learn to become a better swordsman and Altina make her own choices and decisions.
But, there is a sense of comfort that comes even when Rean is in this position in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III. While he’s coming to terms with being a world-renowned warrior and an authority figure shaping future soldiers, his relationships with his friends remain unchanged. Everyone keeps in touch with the ARCUS II’s new functions. Elliot is the first person to talk with him. When Rean and the new Class VII are on an assignment and are attacked by Archaisms, Elliot, Fie, and Laura are there to help. His old friends are constantly there to help, showing that distance and time are still no match for the bonds formed in the first two entries. The friends who matter are still giving him aid, insights, and showing up for opportunities to interact again.
As long as someone is alive, they’ll constantly keep growing. With The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III, we have someone who did great things in the original two games. He has made a name for himself. Now, as a result of his actions, he’s being seen in a new way. He’s having to quickly adapt to being a hero, maybe even a legend, at a young age. He’s also responsible for students who sometimes aren’t all that much younger than he is and learning how different being a teacher can be. At the same time, we see how he has the bonds from past games to fall back on when he needs them. It’s about watching someone find their comfort zone again and live with being a hero, while also taking on new challenges and preparing to step up again.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III will come to the PlayStation 4 in North America and Europe on October 22, 2019 and in Australia on October 29, 2019. It is immediately available in Japan.