The changes to the setting and structure make for an RPG that's refreshing, even if aspects like the duels with frenzied nobles are more of a novelty than a meaningful step forward for the series. While there are definitely areas like the visuals and the variety of Pokémon and moves that could be improved, it all feels like far more than just a proof of concept.
Even when the story reaches its climax, it still feels like the Taranis team is just going through the motions, fighting through similar waves of machines while occasionally taking a break to plant tomatoes. Fuga certainly drags on, but at the same time it’s so conceptually unique and visually charming that it's easy to forgive some of its flaws.
Trails of Cold Steel III is a fine sequel, although the game often seems to struggling beneath the weight of its growing cast of characters and intersecting stories. As a continuation, it’s a game strictly for existing fans, who’ll get a lot out of it even if they haven’t consumed every last tidbit of Trails content.
Though the stakes still feel too low at times, the game is focused examining the effect the war has on regular citizens, so being removed from the action at times makes sense. Trails of Cold Steel II ultimately tells a more complete and compelling story than the first game.
Even for returning fans, this is just a retread of the same plot of Mask of Deception, a short tale that doesn’t leave much left but the grind of optional missions. Sure, there’s some fun to be had in taking out armies with a colossal sparrow, but it’s something that might be more palatable at a lower price point.