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Change YoY: =   My Rating: 9.3 / 10

To say Trails of Cold Steel IV had quite a lot of expectations to live up to would be putting it lightly. It was the culmination of a story that had at that point spanned eight earlier games (though only six had been released in the west at that point), it needed to tie together plot threads from three separate sub-series within the franchise, and do so in a way that not only made sense, but would also serve as a satisfying conclusion to said plot threads in the eyes of the fans who had played all those games. That's a lot to manage all at once, and yet the game did all of it about as well as I could have ever hoped. 

Trails of Cold Steel IV is quite understandably a very long game, precisely because it has to wrap up so many different story threads and plot lines, but it all feels earned. I've played a lot of games in recent years that felt like they overstayed their welcome and stretched their runtime for an extra 10 to 15 hours for no good reason, but with Trails of Cold Steel IV that feeling never arrived. In this particular instance, because the developer had spent so much time and effort in telling this epic story, the extended length felt warranted. These were characters and stories I was fully invested in, and I wanted to see this final chapter be given the time to properly tell its story without having to rush through anything. And that's what they did, as this game took me over 130 hours to complete, and I never once got tired of playing it. It was a worthy conclusion to this particular saga within the larger franchise.