Three different legends are about to unfold! Determine the fates of Rean Schwarzer, Lloyd Bannings, and the mysterious "C" in this climactic chapter of The Legend of Heroes series.
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This review contains spoilers
After the complete mess of Cold Steel's plot, I was skeptical going into this game. This game surprised me, though, and managed to do what Cold Steel couldn't do in four games: make a compelling plot.
Rufus, one of the few actual good villains from the Cold Steel arc, gets his redemption arc, and it's nice. We get so little time to see him throughout the entirety of Cold Steel (in part, due to the arc's massive character bloat), so it's nice to see events through his perspective. Nadia and Swin are a great pair in Three and Nine, and seeing them in person only bolsters their characters. Lapis and Rufus are great foils to each other, lifting each other up when they need it most. I walked away from this route thoroughly impressed with the writing team.
Speaking of writing, let me talk about the writing for a minute. After Cold Steel, I was worried that every game in the series would be bloated and have filler, just for the sake of padding the runtime. I'm happy to report that Reverie is as lean as it gets. The writers waste no time with the plot, and while I do miss sidequests, I'm glad that their exclusion gave the writers a chance to write a tighter story. While I don't LOVE the story, I found it to be overall enjoyable, and leagues above anything the Cold Steel arc has to offer.
If you've played any game in the CS arc, combat is essentially the same, with the addition of United Fronts, which are super heals/attacks, with an added buff and BP restoration added. It's a cool addition, that while not necessarily needed, adds a little more spice to the combat. Fun game, not as hard as it might seem at first, and it lends itself well to experimentation. I'm a player that loves to break/exploit games as much as possible, and Reverie is shaping up to be the best possible game to break. Good stuff.
Music is solid, as per usual. If you've played any Falcom game before, you know what to expect. While I don't love the soundtrack, there are a handful of bangers that stood out to me (notably: Unisuga's 'Like a Whirlwind', Singa's 'Aim a Gun at the Bullet', and more).
Lastly, the Reverie Corridor is a great addition to the game. Having a hub for all of the mini-games, even if they vary in quality (looking at you, Project Tyrfing), as well as for the daydreams and grinding, is genius. Words can't fully express how much I like the Reverie Corridor, and I hope to see something like it in future games.
All in all, despite my gripes with some aspects of the story, I still really enjoyed the game. It didn't fix the bland, uninteresting cast of characters I've come to despise in Cold Steel, but it did manage to redeem one of them (Rean). And even then, I'm still enjoying the game, several hours into the post-game. Reverie is a game that should not be overlooked by fans, especially by those who were soured by Cold Steel.
I'll be real with you and say that this game is hard carried by C's route and it's not even funny, Lloyd's is literally just repeating the same plot beats from azure without a hint of shame and nothing interesting happens in Rean's route until a good while in but all of that doesn't matter because the picnic squad really is that damn good.
It starts with a very bad taste in mouth. Being a follow-up to the very divisive Cold Steel 4 doesn't help, but the fact its beginning is repeating the same narrative beats done in Azure and Cold Steel regarding Crossbell only amounts to exhaustion. And in terms of Lloyd's route, it never really changes, with some moments deliberately placed as a call back to the predecessors--Lloyd is facing the same problem yet again, and since there is nothing more to add to his development, his story ends up feeling redundant.
While Lloyd's route does end up taking the most time out of three, it thankfully isn't an overhwelming ratio compared to the other two. Rean's route is supplementary as one would expect, and his character arc is also disappointingly a retread, but due to how closely it relates to the final route with all new characters, it's more bearable.
And that final route is indeed a breath of much needed fresh air. The core 4 characters are as balanced in their chemistry as the S.S.S. in Zero, and the guests that join them as the game goes on provide interesting perspectives on them as well. These three routes all interact at some point with each other, like how dungeons with multiple teams in CS3 and CS4 worked, and even though there is not much freedom as to what you can do and you are more or less expected to play in a linear way, the way they interconnect still provides interesting storytelling opportunities that the series desperately needed. And the ending, while it's based on the similar deus ex machina cliche that made Cold Steel 4 difficult to like, ties up everything in a way more satisfying than that game ever could have hoped to.
A significant bulk of the game, however, is pushed aside to the Reverie Corridor, a dungeon that exists in a dimension separate from Zemuria. It acts as a convenient place for the game to include a plethora of side activities, with minigames (both VM and Pom Party make their return with the largest opponent roster ever in the series) and side episodes that shows glimpse of other stories not directly related to the main story of the game. Some of these sheds more light on some supporting cast member such as Ash and Kurt, while others set up some world-altering revelations for the next arc in the franchise. They are in essence like Trails in the Sky The 3rd, but with the dungeon crawling aspect more streamlined and with dynamic map layout and missions; having the main story that occurs separately in the real world Zemuria also makes it more relevant in the grand scheme of things.
Overall, a fitting conclusion to both the Ereborian and Crossbell saga, allowing the fans of the series to be more hopeful for the future instead of how Cold Steel 4 had left them.