Trials of Mana Impression
I recently got to play the upcoming demo of Trials of Mana at PAX East. The demo, played on a Nintendo Switch, covered the early parts of the game, specifically the intro area for the main character you select, and up to the game’s first major boss after that. Fans of the original game will feel right at home, as the story and structure follow the original game very closely. Dialogue seemed similar to the recent localized release of the original, as part of Collection of Mana, though this time much of it is voiced. Some of the performances felt a bit bland but for the most part they were fine.
Like the original release, players pick three of the six available main characters to be their party for the game, and start with the intro adventure of whichever character they pick first. New to the remake, however, is the option to play through the intro adventure of the other party members when you meet them. It’s thankfully optional for those that want to get to the main adventure quicker, but its a wonderful nicety for those that want to see all the stories the game has to offer.
Where the game obviously diverged from the original extensively is in the combat. Regular light and strong attacks are readily available, while special attacks slowly build up over time. No magic was available in the demo, so I was not able to try out how that integrates into combat. A dodge roll was available and enemies show a tell when they are about to use big attacks, meaning reacting and moving around with the flow of battle is key to success rather than simply mashing the attack buttons. The combat was simple, fast, and engaging and a wonderful modern upgrade of what was in the original game. Switching between characters was easy to do on the fly, and the camera did not prove troublesome in the heat of combat.
Though not pushing new technical boundaries, the game looked and sounded wonderful. The character models and environments look like amazing 3D approximations of the original sprites. The soundtrack has been wonderfully remixed, and it was great to hear new versions of classic songs, to the point that I was not even tempted to see if there was option to switch to the original. There was the occasional minor hiccup in performance, but by and large the game performed perfectly well. From start to finish the demo pulled at my heartstrings, and any fan of the Mana series should be excited by the promise of this remake.
The demo of Trials of Mana will be available on March 18, 2020. The full game is set to launch on April 24, 2020, for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.