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It must have been both exhilarating and daunting to recreate Seiken Densetsu 3 from the ground up, but the team at Square Enix did a masterful job of capturing the feel of the Super Famicom version in a brand new experience. Trials of Mana boasts practically exact replicas of the world, story, and sounds from the original, but the battle system received a major overhaul. Gone is the top-down action RPG combat that had been a staple of the Mana series; instead, the camera is behind the player-controlled hero for a third-person experience. The combat is fresh and fabulous, with the six protagonists having newfound skills that they can equip for added customization as they grow and gain new abilities.
Not only is the combat completely different from its predecessors, it’s incredibly enjoyable too. With shortcuts for items and spells, one doesn’t even need to shuffle around the ring-based menu system any more. Most enemy skills have red-colored hit boxes for attacks, so players can anticipate and dodge incoming spells and attacks. Trials of Mana succeeds at being both a spot-on restoration of one of the great RPGs that Square originally left untranslated, but also changes up the battle system so much that it feels fresh and engrossing. Here’s hoping fans can see more of this series and developments upon this exciting new battle system in the near future.
One of the greatest assets a game can have is making the player feel like they control the battlefield, and Final Fantasy VII Remake’s battle system does just that. Even with the pivot to a fully-fledged action RPG, it still manages to maintain the feel of the original’s turn-based system as well. It also makes every character fun to play as, from Tifa’s fast hit-and-run style to Aerith’s more plodding “turret mage” gameplay, something that many developers struggle with in character-based action games. There are some minor flaws in terms of responsiveness and feedback, and it takes a decent amount of trial-and-error to know which attacks can be effectively blocked and which need to be dodged. However, many of the fights are both a treat to the mind and to play, which gives Final Fantasy VII Remake one of the best combat systems of 2020.
For a rogue-lite game like Hades, in which players are expected to repeat a gameplay loop numerous times, mechanics are absolutely essential for the experience to be worthwhile, so that each loop feels fresh, fun, and takes a long time before becoming repetitive. Thankfully, Hades absolutely nails this. Simple action mechanics are combined diverse weapons that each play differently to ensure players’ experiences can be vastly different from run to run. Each run sees the player getting a randomized selection of boons along the way, so even runs with the same weapon can provide diverse experiences. Finally, as players progress, they get additional customization options to get a better chance of meeting certain gods, allowing for specific builds to be more easily obtained. Though each run will likely take players under an hour, there is more than enough variety to ensure that dozens upon dozens of hours of enjoyment are there to be had before things even begin to feel repetitive. Hades’ combat easily eclipses that of all its rogue-lite peers.
by Ryan Radcliff, Shannon Harle, and Mike Apps