Ever since NIS America announced a Nintendo Switch port of the excellent Trails of Cold Steel III, I was very curious to see how the publisher would handle future entries on Nintendo Switch. While PlayStation platforms have had all Trails of Cold Steel games release beginning with the first two games PS3 and PS Vita leading into ports and new releases on PS4, Nintendo Switch owners in the West have only been able to play Trails of Cold Steel III until now. Trails of Cold Steel IV has finally been released on both Nintendo Switch and PC platforms following its PS4 release last year and it completes Falcom’s Trails of Cold Steel saga. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been replaying Trails of Cold Steel IV on both PC and Nintendo Switch following my initial playthrough on PS4 Pro and the Nintendo Switch version gets some things right but is still disappointing in one important area.
If you’ve already played or already own Trails of Cold Steel IV on PS4, the Nintendo Switch version doesn’t include anything extra barring some DLC sold separately on the PS Store. It is still an absolutely massive JRPG that is well worth your time if you enjoyed Trails of Cold Steel III on Nintendo Switch and have played prior entries on any other platform. Trails of Cold Steel IV picks up soon after the events of Trails of Cold Steel III and if you finished the latter, the wait has been painful but the payoff will be worth it.
I still consider Trails of Cold Steel III an enjoyable entry point with a few caveats but Trails of Cold Steel IV absolutely assumes you’ve played more than just the Trails of Cold Steel games. There is an in-game summary option but it doesn’t do the best job of getting you up to speed. Treat it like a refresher for those who already played prior entries more than a substitute for not playing said games. If you have no way to experience prior games and really want to see things play out after you enjoyed Trails of Cold Steel III on Nintendo Switch, I can safely say that Trails of Cold Steel IV will deliver but it will also make you want to play prior Trails games to see how various characters from across different games ended up the way they did in Trails of Cold Steel IV. Trails of Cold Steel III and IV are structured similar to I and II but the biggest problem with the narrative in this entry is in the second act’s pacing which dampens the overall experience.
Engine Software handled the Nintendo Switch port Trails of Cold Steel IV just like the previous game and the conversion is pretty similar. If you play handheld, Trails of Cold Steel IV targets 720p and 30fps. It lacks good anti-aliasing but is a good experience overall. The frame rate target is held well. The problems with Trails of Cold Steel IV’s visuals are mostly docked. Despite the post-processing, the resolution target is still 720p and this also applies to the interface which makes the game just not look great overall when played docked. This is a big step down from the 4K 60fps target on PS4 Pro but it gets the job done well in handheld mode. For comparisons between both versions, read my feature here.
Trails of Cold Steel IV on Nintendo Switch does have some DLC included in the base game which is a nice touch given the late port following October’s PS4 release. Barring that, the contents are the same as the PS4 and PC version. The only difference is in the visuals and performance with PC being the best of the lot as expected of all platforms. Engine Software also brought the download size down quite a bit for this version just like with Trails of Cold Steel III.
My biggest problem with Trails of Cold Steel IV on Nintendo Switch is how it looks docked. Having some better effects and post-processing compared to portable play isn’t enough when the interface, menus, and text all aren’t as crisp as they should be. A lot of games on Nintendo Switch have native resolution interfaces for clarity but have the actual gameplay scale or be lower resolution and it works out like it did for Monster Hunter Rise and to some extent, Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I was hoping that since Trails of Cold Steel III from Engine Software was the first time the company worked with Falcom’s Trails of Cold Steel series, we’d see improvements in Trails of Cold Steel IV but this is more of the same technically. Hopefully the upcoming Ys IX: Monstrum Nox port offers a good docked as well as handheld experience for players.
Overall, Trails of Cold Steel IV is a great portable experience but a subpar one docked. Having experienced Trails of Cold Steel I and II originally on PS Vita before replaying them on PS4, I’m glad that fans of portable gaming can now play the entire Trails of Cold Steel saga on the go. Trails of Cold Steel IV brings Falcom’s massive JRPG to a portable for the first time offering a great experience when played in handheld mode and it is easily one of the best JRPGs on the system.