Last year, thanks to the Collection of Mana, we finally got to play Trials of Mana in the West. Fans were very happy with that, because the game was the most ambitious title of the series that was released. Now we have another chance to get started with this title thanks to a full remake of the game announced last year for Nintendo Switch and PS4. Fortunately, the game is still as great as the original.
Looking at the original and this remake, it is very likely that the most difficult challenge for the developers was to convey the a-typical elements of the RPG as you are playing the story from different points of view. Be able to adapt the type of gameplay and especially combat system to the three dimensions, to obtain a modern result but at the same time be true to the past.
The details mainly relate to the combat system. Unlike the classic turn-based JRPG, this series has always had real-time combat and Trials of Mana makes no difference. In this version you play in third person and when you get too close to the enemies guarding an area you start a battle that takes place in an arena like the Tales of games. Here you fight to the death or you can choose to try to flee by walking to the edge of the arena.
The transition to 3D and from the isometric view to the third person forced the developers to make the game into a pure single player. Another aspect that needed a major overhaul was combat, as the three dimensions required an adequate system to ensure the right balance of dynamics, directness and depth for the hits. This is why some features have been added, such as jumping and air strikes that affect fighting and beyond. Two physical attacks can be used, one light and fast and the other slow and heavy, and you can link them together to score combos. Heavy hits can also be loaded so you can break through the defenses of firmer enemies. in addition, you also load CS points which, once collected enough, can be used to use spectacular attacks against the enemies.
At the beginning of the game you have of course only a limited number of attacks at your disposal, but soon you have a whole arsenal of powers and battles to hand out against your enemies. You can also slow down the game during combat to easily select new strategies and make your life easier. Not that the game is that difficult, because we really had no problem while playing on normal, so going up a notch doesn’t hurt and you can also adjust during the game!
Where the game unfortunately doesn’t hit the spot is in your party members, because they are actually not as clever as you would hope. Fortunately, you can easily switch between all characters on the playing field with the push of a button. This way you can take all the strings in your own hands and prevent them from walking towards destruction if you see that things are going wrong. So it is also up to you to learn to play with all attacks, magic and characters.
In this game you have multiple endings, as well as multiple characters who will play the main role, of which you can choose one at the start of the game. The characters share the storyline in pairs of two based on the reference antagonist (Duran the warrior and Angela the sorceress, Hawkeye the fast hunter and Riesz the rider, Charlotte the cleric and Kevin the human beast). The prologue and epilogue of each character is different, but the middle section remains the same for every character. If you choose a certain character, you can also learn more from other characters using flashbacks. So you always know (almost) everything about the story even if you only play it once, but if you really want to experience everything, we recommend that you finish the game twice.
The huge map is basically dotted with regions where each area has hidden ravines, treasure chests, caves and other secrets for you to discover. We are not dealing with long or extended platform sections, more than anything, they are alternating scenarios from a different genre combined with normal gameplay, but the variety blends fairly well and organically with the main story, which is a pleasant little extra in between. the game shows such interesting places by showing them through a handy mini map that are worth exploring.
Each region has its own graphic palette of color that you can admire, but unfortunately we saw pop-ins here and there from little things like trees, grass or the like. There is also quite a lot of recycling in the game and many locations look a bit alike, but perhaps with a slightly different look. The day and night cycle, however, provide a pleasant effect that makes the game more alive. But although this is a full remake, the developer seems to drop a bit here and there with regard to the background. Fortunately, the characters and animations look perfect again!
The main characters along with the many bosses are detailed at the right time and equipped with often convincing animations and skills, the frame rate is always solid both docked and handheld and the soundtracks are never annoying, you can even choose to play the original soundtrack. select. The artistic direction is that which many Japanese productions have accustomed us to, enlivened by bright colors and with an always exaggerated anime-oriented style that will make fans happy and which in any case is well suited for the fantasy setting that accompanies our fortunes for the 25 to 30 hour game in which your cliché must save the land by looking for eight mana stones and … well we leave that to you to discover.
In our opinion, the main task of a remake should still be to honor a title published in another era by making it recognizable to fans while also being innovative enough to be fully back with contemporary habits. Square Enix has succeeded in this and Trials of Mana feels both classic and innovative. The game may not be as bombastic as we are used to from RPGs. The atmosphere and story is exciting enough to continue playing after more than 25 years.
Trials of Mana still remains a wonderful adventure to play multiple times through.