There are a lot of reasons to remake a game, with the most common being experience. A lot has changed in the last generation and as a result, a number of great games are a shell of their former glory. This has taken form in a lot of different ways, with Square Enix finding a good amount of success in remaking the Seiken Densetsu or as it’s better known as, Mana series. With two titles already out, it’s time for Trials of Mana to step up. With it being a bit more modern and having more to it, will this be a delightful experience or be a loveless remake? Here’s our Trials of Mana review.
For those new to the title, Trials of Mana starts with you selecting your desired team. Depending on who you select, the story will start off and play out somewhat differently. This makes it easier to justify multiple playthroughs and allows the characters to stand out. After the initial introduction to their motivation, goal, or core problem, you’ll arrive in the first town and the story progresses.
While each character has their own reasons for going on this adventure, they’ll hit the same plot beats. Basically, you need to obtain the mana sword, which the Japanese name refers to, and with it you can restore peace and get a wish granted, provided you do so in time. Naturally, it isn’t a simple matter of pulling the sword and you need to first collect stones and solve problems before returning to obtain the prize.
This casual overview is honestly an oversimplification of the story since it’s more character-driven than anything else. Things like character motivation, relationships, desires, and overall interactions are what makes the story interesting, you just have to be interested in the world over the actual chain of events. For anyone willing to do so you’ll be met with a cute adventure that has a lot to offer, it’s just a shame everything around it isn’t quite as nice.
One of the first things you’ll notice in Trials of Mana is the way things are presented. The world isn’t exactly vibrant and manages to, even in situations where it makes sense, feel rather hollow. It fails to have that lived-in feeling that you can find in, say, Final Fantasy VII Remake and feels closer to Neptunia. There are towns, people, settings, and dialogue, it just feels like filler to larger things around you. Toss in cheesy animations and lackluster controls and it feels underwhelming, a statement that sums up combat.
Not unlike a low budget action RPG, there just isn’t much to the combat system. Players can dodge, jump, attack, use specials, and all that jazz, yet it just feels so unsatisfying. Part of that is likely due to certain combos and moves to cause enemies to flinch, resulting in most attacks feeling lifeless. It doesn’t take more than a few battles to realize how unimpressive it is and while it gets better over time, it’s never good to ask for a large investment before delivering what fans want.
Outside of combat, there is some value in doing less important things like exploring a town. You can obtain better gear, get a better insight into various problems, or just locate valuable resources. Though, this too feels rather uninspired. Most things are in obvious locations and don’t add a whole lot of value if you take the time to do it. As a result, how motivated you’ll be to explore and interact relies heavily on your investment in the overall struggle.
Trials of Mana Review – Verdict
In a lot of ways that is the problem with Trials of Mana. While it looks fine and the story has all the charm you’d expect from a ‘90s JRPG, it doesn’t have much else. Combat is bland, the worlds feel empty, there are tons of cheese and it relies on a large investment to get to the stuff that is actually enjoyable. For some or anyone looking for the original game with a new coat of paint, it’s great but if you were looking for something closer to the Final Fantasy VII Remake treatment, expect to be underwhelmed.
[Editor’s Note: Trials of Mana was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]