Trials of Mana PC Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Action RPG
 
Rating: PG
 
Release Date: 25/04/2020
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/5


 

Positives


- Character models look fantastic
- Combat mechanics are great

Negatives


- Voice acting is largely terrible
- Graphics outside of the character models are average
- Not enough variety to the music
- Game is much, much too easy


Posted May 3, 2020 by

 
Full Article
 
 

It really feels like Square Enix have been on a remake kick over the last couple of years or so. We’ve seen the releases of Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VII Remake and now Trials of Mana; a series of classic games that have been brought up to varying degrees of modern standards. Final Fantasy VII Remake was an utterly fantastic modernisation, Secret of Mana was pretty lacklustre and Trials of Mana has managed to slot in right between both as a great playing remake whose failings seemingly come from scope and budgetary limitations.

Before its release as part of last year’s Collection of Mana, Trials of Mana (aka Seiken Densetsu 3 for those playing at home) had never seen a Western release after its original 1995 release in Japan. Only the most diehard Western fans were able to play the game, resorting to importing Japanese copies and unofficial English translations to get their Mana fix. However, given the age of the game, don’t expect anything ground-breaking from the story. While some of the tropes used may have been a little more novel or accepted in 1995, they’re now expected and unoriginal. In summary, you’ve been chosen by a sacred fairy named Fairie to claim the Sword of Mana and save the world from devastation. It doesn’t set the world alight, but it’s also not an enjoyment killer either.

While the general gist of the story isn’t anything new, where it diverges is in how you build your party. At the beginning of the game you choose a main character and two supporting characters from a pool of six. All six characters will be present in your adventure (with the remaining three becoming NPCs), but the story will focus in on the three you chose and the events you see will differ somewhat based on your choice. It gives the game an element of replayability you don’t normally see, which is great given you can easily knock out a single playthrough in around 12-13 hours given how easy the game is.

Now, I didn’t start the game expecting a Souls­-like experience but being able to beat a late game boss without taking a single point of damage and never once being pushed even close to the brink of game over is simply too easy. The real issue with the difficulty level is that it causes you to disengage with the game’s combat mechanics. Why focus appropriately on dodging area of effect attacks, effectively using combos or using support magic, when you can easily repeatedly hit the same button and use the same chain attack and win? The worst part of this is that the combat mechanics in the game feel fantastic. The controls are incredibly responsive, you can stagger/cancel out enemy attacks depending on the combo you use and perfectly timing your dodges to avoid damage is energising. You’ll want to play the game on Hard if you want any form of challenge.

The biggest changes to Trials of Mana come with the trappings of the modern game: 3D graphics, orchestrated soundtracks and voice acting. While the game’s main characters look fantastically detailed, the world itself is frightfully average. Most textures are flat, muddy and lacking in detail, while enemy models are repeated frequently throughout the game with a simple colour swap. Also, while I love staying true to the source material, would it really have been that hard to give the game’s women some pants?

In similar fashion to its graphics, Trials of Mana’s orchestrated soundtrack sounds great, but there isn’t enough of it. I loved what I heard, but tracks were repeated so frequently that I eventually started ignoring them. It probably doesn’t help that the game has you backtrack through several already completed areas later in the game, further solidifying the lack of musical variety. Inversely, the voice acting is largely terrible. The game features some of the most stilted delivery I’ve heard in years, almost like the script was given to some voice actors a few words at a time with sometimes seconds between words, despite there being no accompanying punctuation in the subtitles. You’ve also got the return of the uber-annoying “let’s replace all of the r’s and l’s with w’s in any word uttered by the young girl’ character. I can’t even begin to describe the utter joy I felt the first time I heard Charlotte (the main healer you can pick) speak, knowing that I’d dodged a warhead by not having her in my party.

Trials of Mana is a good modernisation of a nearly 25-year-old game, but it’s also one that was obviously held back. Graphical and audio quality vary throughout, ranging from the fantastic to the terrible, while the combat is so easy that it drains the fun out of it, despite the mechanics being great. If you have a passing interest in the genre or the Mana series I’d suggest picking this up, but otherwise I’d suggest waiting for a price drop.

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Trials of Mana on Windows PC in 1440p at 120Hz using a Ryzen 1600x, 16GB of 3000MHZ RAM, and an MSI Evoke OC 5700XT graphics card, with a copy provided by Square Enix.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.