June 1, 2018

Sen no Kiseki III Quick Review

Posted in video games tagged , , at 7:27 am by riulyn

TLDR Don’t play this game if you didn’t play and enjoy Sen no Kiseki I and Sen no Kiseki II (Trails of Cold Steel 1 + Trails of Cold Steel 2). It’s more of the same (quite like Sen no Kiseki I) except the ending is more abrupt.

The game took me ~130 hours to beat, so probably about 100-110 hours if it were in English. Caveat – I was talking to basically every NPC I could at the beginning all the way through Chapter 3. This strategy is not recommended.

I do recommend playing the Sora no Kiseki trilogy (the 3rd is particularly relevant I think) and Crossbell duology (Zero and Ao are both relevant) before the entire Sen no Kiseki series, but especially before III if you want to enjoy the others without the biggest spoilers explained. However, you don’t have to play the other series before this game in order to understand it at a basic level. The most important knowledge is explained in-game.

Alright, quick review part.

Playing Sen no Kiseki III and beating it now was probably a good thing, as IV will come out in September. Sen III answers lots of questions raised in Sen I & II; in that sense, it is quite satisfying. Sen III is a constant build though, with no relief; in that sense, it pulls at you way more than any other game in the series. I will talk spoilers of Kiseki in some other post. Here I’ll just overview my feelings on the game.

Battle system – seems cool and interesting at first. Orders are new and fun. It gets too easy to abuse at the end, though. Veterans of the series might want to start with hard if they want to feel the usual challenge; I just didn’t care at the end and breezed through.

Story/plot structure – the contents in each chapter aren’t bad as a standalone. The bad thing is how the formula is the same that there isn’t even a fun surprise anymore. Just get to the good part already! – is basically what I think most of the time when a new chapter starts. This feeling hit me most in the middle of the game and for me it is saved by the old characters who show up.

Characters – new characters are good. Old characters are present and have changed a bit, but mostly the same. If you liked them before you will still like them for the most part. Characters from previous series are also present. Hence the recommendation to have played the other games first so you can go “Ah! This person has shown up!”

Quests – The quests are still to the level of previous games. I like the new students in this game and think their quests are good. It is easy to find quests in this game; all of them are marked by green exclamation points.

Graphics – A few times the PS4 struggled to show some of the places at a smooth framerate. Some of the animations are awkward and cringey. Important scenes with battles are stiff/awkwardly choreographed (if that term can work for animations). Everyone looks beautiful, though. Like everyone is attractive, what the hell.

Music – I think it has some great tracks, but overall the music is better in earlier games. I love the opening and ending songs a lot, and when they are remixed into the game.

In the end I quite enjoyed the game, but I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it quite as much if it were a standalone. The series has been fun and crazy, but I also hope Falcom doesn’t make a series structured this way again. 4 meaty games where it is almost all buildup to a finale is quite much for me (and a lot of the fandom, apparently). Other reasons I’m not just jumping out of my chair to recommend it to everyone besides the “Sen IV better be amazing or I will ultimately feel let down” (unfortunate feeling but there has been just that much buildup) are spoiler reasons – there are just some plot elements I don’t like.

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