Republished on Wednesday, tenth August, 2022: We’re bringing this evaluate again from the archives following the announcement of August’s PS Plus Extra, Premium lineup. The unique textual content follows.
Trials of Mana is a full 3D remake of Seiken Densetsu 3 — a Square-developed motion role-playing sport that was by no means formally launched exterior of Japan till final 12 months, when it was included within the Collection of Mana on Nintendo Switch. And whereas it clearly does not have the finances or manpower of one thing like Final Fantasy VII Remake behind it, Trials of Mana is a trustworthy and enjoyable recreation of a basic journey.
To be clear, that is principally an actual remake. It follows the identical story, characters, and gameplay construction of the unique — it is simply that every part has been tailored to 3D. If you are in any respect conversant in the solely 2D world of the unique sport, it makes for an virtually surreal expertise. Everything’s right here, simply as you bear in mind it, however you are free to maneuver the digital camera and discover each little nook and cranny. Trials of Mana is not the very best wanting RPG on PlayStation 4 — removed from it — however there is a particular allure to the fantasy setting and its inhabitants.
However, being a trustworthy remake additionally implies that the plot is trapped in a time when the style lacked any actual narrative depth. It’s a story of heroes standing towards unquestionable evil, filled with one-note characters and twists that you’re going to see coming from a mile away. The old fashioned story’s solely saving grace is that its gimmick of getting six totally different playable characters stays considerably distinctive, even right here in 2020.
Indeed, proper firstly of the sport, you get to decide on your hero and the 2 companions who’ll finally be part of you in your quest. Each character has their very own prologue, offering perception into their typically tragic motivations. What’s extra, later components of the story change primarily based on who you are enjoying as — you may encounter totally different villains and barely altered plot factors relying in your chosen perspective. It’s a neat system that goes a good distance in giving Trials of Mana a particular really feel and id.
Having stated that, cutscene high quality leaves lots to be desired. Working with such primary dialogue, the mo-capped cutscenes typically seem awkward and distracting. It additionally does not assist that the English voice appearing is questionable at greatest, to the purpose the place we would advocate utilizing the Japanese voice possibility. We can respect the try at updating the sport’s storytelling for contemporary occasions, however truthfully, we would desire conventional textual content bins over this.
Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of this journey consists of fight and exploration — and each points of the journey are very pleasing. As you’d count on, the sport’s construction is predictably retro. You go to a city, top off on new weapons and armour, hit the street, battle your means via a dungeon or two, beat a boss, after which arrive on the subsequent settlement, able to do it once more. It’s primary, however it’s a tried and examined method. Aside from some mildly annoying backtracking afterward, the pacing feels excellent, with little or no downtime between one stage of the journey and the following.
Trials of Mana is not a very brief expertise, both. It took us close to 30 hours to succeed in the credit, and by the point it was over, we had the urge to play via it once more with totally different characters. Needless to say, there is a good quantity of replay worth right here. And as talked about, the title’s easy pacing lends itself to a number of runs — you do not have to fret about rewatching prolonged cutscenes or skipping reams of dialogue simply to get again to the motion.
Speaking of motion, Trials of Mana has plenty of it. The fight is, in a phrase, primary, however it’s additionally approachable and fairly satisfying. Every playable hero has entry to straightforward sq. button combos, heavier triangle assaults, and an evasive roll. As you progress, you unlock extra character lessons that grant you new magic spells and skills, increasing the fight system to some extent the place it feels such as you’ve obtained personalised management over how your celebration fights.
Outside of the sport’s many partaking boss battles, fight will not often blow you away — however once more, like the remainder of the discharge, its simplicity is efficient. It helps that controlling your celebration feels easy and responsive, whereas pausing the motion to make use of spells or objects provides a pleasant rhythm to extra tactical skirmishes.
There are additionally various issue ranges to contemplate. Casual mode makes fights a breeze for those who’re simply right here to soak up the sights, whereas ‘simple’ and ‘regular’ are precisely what you’d count on. Elsewhere, ‘exhausting’ is value a shot if you’d like a problem. Enemies hit like a truck and a few boss fights are brutal, however your AI-driven companions — fairly dependable on different difficulties — are certainly going to frustrate as they refuse to dodge incoming assaults.
It could also be a full 3D remake of a basic motion RPG, however Trials of Mana sticks rigidly to the construction of the unique sport. As a outcome, its storytelling and characters are one-note and largely forgettable — hampered additional by awkward cutscenes and dodgy English voice appearing — however its properly paced gameplay feels surprisingly recent in a time when fashionable RPGs generally tend to tug on for lots of of hours. What’s extra, its easy however easy and efficient fight system makes for some moreish motion. All in all, Trials of Mana is a pleasant throwback.