Trials of Mana seems like a step up from the series previous remake, but I’m not sure if it will be enough to get JRPG fans interested.
Remakes in the video game industry have slowly, but surely become a familiar occurrence in recent years. With recent titles like Resident Evil 2 and the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake, the expectations have risen as to what players expect from the recreation of their favorite games. Last year Square Enix released a new 3D version of Secret of Mana, which is considered to be one of the greatest JRPGs of all time, and it came relatively mixed reviews. While I have yet to play Secret of Mana myself, I did get to play the next remake in the works Trials of Mana at PAX West and it could either be great or end up as a bland, lackluster experience.
In the original Trials of Mana, the game featured a number of plotlines as well as several main characters to choose from all with their own respective stories. From the beginning of my demo, I played as the swordsman Duran that begins in the Jadd Stronghold. While the fortress is presented to be large and vast, there weren’t many places I could go throughout. This is likely because it was a demo, but I can’t be sure.
With vibrant colors and nice detail, Square Enix has definitely realized the world that the original title introduced, but now in a 3D space. The grass is lush, the flowers are vivid, and most of the characters look great. I explored grasslands filled with woodland critters as well as a small cave that involved a boss battle against a hybrid creature reminiscent of a spider and a crab. When adventuring about, players can pick up items that are represented by a glowing mode of light. To use an item, players can use the game’s ring menu allowing you to select a variety of different things to use. I enjoyed running around and exploring new areas, but my main problem with Trials of Mana is that the combat is just boring.
Combat takes place in real-time where you execute quick and charge attacks. As you defeat enemies your “Class Strike” gauge fills up. Once full, you can unleash a special ability by holding down left bumper and pressing square, triangle, circle, or cross. During every battle, there are objectives that you can complete that will give you a bonus increase for your CS bar. As my time progressed I gained new allies with Riesz and Charlotte who had different weapons and abilities to implement into battle.
The big issue I have with the combat is that it feels generic. It looks pretty while slashing at enemies, but it’s not very fun nor does it feel satisfying when attacking. Granted, what I played was a very basic demonstration that lasted for a short amount of time. I was also playing at a low level so there is a lot of room for growth, especially with there being different characters and stories throughout the game.
So far, Trials of Mana feels like a mixed bag. It could possibly surprise players depending on how it evolves and I want to give it the benefit of the doubt. I only had about ten minutes of playtime (this is pretty standard at conventions like PAX, sadly) and this is a JRPG after all, which are notorious for being lengthy experiences. As a fan of the genre, I will be keeping it on my radar as more information for the game comes out, but I’m not sold on picking it up once it releases later next year.
Trials of Mana releases on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC on April 24, 2020.