Trials Of Mana Demo Impressions
The Trials Of Mana remake may not be as significant in terms of fan fervour compared to Final Fantasy VII, but this other Square Enix remake is still an important one. For one, it finally gives an official English release for the SNES game Seiken Densetsu 3 – unofficially referred to Secret Of Mana 2 by fans.
The other, is a look at how Square Enix is treating remakes that is not Final Fantasy VII. The Secret Of Mana 2018 remake didn’t do that well, mostly because it sticks too close to the original in the wrong ways.
I played through the substantial 2-hour demo of Trials Of Mana, which is available now on PS4, PC and Switch. From someone with no attachment for the Mana series, here are some impressions I would like to share.
Trials Of Mana: Origins
The big gimmick for Trials Of Mana is how you build your party. Of the six available, you have to select one main character, and two companions, upfront. You’ll play through the origin story of your main pick, and the other two companions you will meet within the first two hours of gameplay.
(New to the remake is that you can also play the origin story of your two companions).
Even to this day, it’s quite the selection. For example, have the beastman Kevin that can turn into a beast at night time that speaks with short sentences. There’s Riesz, the prim and proper captain of the Amazon guards from Laurent. There’s Charlotte who speaks entirely in uwu.
Depending on who you are, it’s the cutest thing ever or a cute joke that goes unbearable after 10 seconds.
Each character has different stats and playstyles initially, and you can mix and match however you like. Most of the characters have tragic melodrama in their origin story, which then kicks off their journey to meet each other by the holy city of Wendel.
Action RPG lite
Trials Of Mana goes completely 3D this time, taking elements of the original but translates it to a modern action RPG template. There are light and heavy attacks, as well as a dodge and jump button.
Combat feels floaty, as in, the animations seem to linger a bit longer than expected, and movement not as precise. But it works. The demo gives a glimpse of how combat can evolve. Near the end, you will face enemies that have clearly-projected area-of-effect attacks, and some attacks that inflict status effects.
Switching between characters is easy, just a trigger button away. There are also shortcut menus, but this is to access abilities and class skills- a cool move that requires the use of a meter. That meter requires crystals that drop after a successful heavy (or charge) attack. You can use items, and in that menu, you can basically pause the time to assess the situation.
If you tried out that Final Fantasy VII Remake demo, or played Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy XV recently, you should feel at home.
(It’s wild to think that action RPG elements like this existed back in the SNES. The Mana series was really something else back then.)
But one thing to note about Trials Of Mana- it’s not a visual juggernaut. It looks like a PS4 remaster for a PS2 game. The art direction seems to go for a more soft, cartoony look to it, which I would be totally down for, but it seems halfway there with many rough edges.
The game was announced first for Switch, and from that angle, the graphics are okay.
If you don’t care about visual fidelity it’s actually just fine. On PS4 it feels like running at 60fps, at a visual glance.
I am loving the remade soundtrack. You can toggle between the original and new-for-the-remake soundtrack from the options.
The new soundtrack sounds faithful to the original, to the point I thought it still uses the original sound notes but layered on percussions and orchestra in some songs. But no, it’s all-new, but sounds very evocative of the original soundtrack, which is already pretty good. The only shame is that by being true to the original, the tracks do loop again quite often.
The voice acting is hit-and-miss for me.
It’s cool that Square Enix continues to drop game demos. And with Trials Of Mana, it’s a substantial one. About two hours (and includes the first boss fight). And that doesn’t count the extra hours should you start over again with another party combination.
And these saves carry over to the main game, so it’s pretty much representative of the full game coming soon.
Trials Of Mana may not be a showstopper of a remake, but the demo is decent and worth checking out. All of the wow-factors from the SNES original may not be as impressive these days. But the good news is that the remake does bring the game up to par with modern standards.
Trials Of Mana will be out on April 24th for the PS4, PC (Steam) and Nintendo Switch
Impressions based on the PS4 version of the demo