Trials of Mana PS4 Review – Gently Upgraded

The original Trials of Mana, known as Seiken Densetsu 3 in Japan, released in 1995 on the SNES Super Famicom in Japan, almost 25 years ago. The world of video games was such a different place back then, with real-time 3D graphics still mostly a thing of the future. Could this remake bring what was great from the original to the surface, with a current-gen shine? Find out in our Trials of Mana PS4 review.

Trials of Mana PS4 Review – Timid Use of Unreal

The Unreal Engine 4 was used for this remake, like so many others these days. The result leaves something to be desired. The environments are mostly bland, and while characters reflect the originals, the models are not very detailed. It seems much more work went into the audio production of Trials of Mana, and rightly so. Hiroki Kikuta, the composer of the 1995 original, was brought on to consult with the reimagined soundtrack of Trails of Mana. The music is a great homage, as it segues between light and upbeat, to ominous and back again. Some of the overworld tracks are repetitive, but the music is enjoyable enough that the repetition isn’t annoying. An option to hear the original soundtrack is also included, which fans are sure to enjoy.

Brand new to this remake is voice acting. All characters have voices now, which wasn’t really a thing in the old SNES days. Some side characters have over-the-top, melodramatic acting, but considering the source material sits firmly in the campy category of storytelling, some of the encounters are entertaining simply because of the way they are presented. A funny side effect of staying true to the original spirit of the SNES release is that there are reused assets everywhere, which includes an item merchant (or maybe they are all brothers?) who is always inexplicably dancing until you approach him to browse his wares. His voice acting, in particular, fits his character perfectly, as absurd of a character as he is.

There are four difficulty levels to choose from in Trials of Mana. All but hard should be a cakewalk for most gamers. The first act of the game, which sets up a lot of the exposition, is laughably easy. The first time most players will even need to consider using healing items during battle will not be until about eight hours in when the first series of serious boss battles takes place. From there, however, things ramp up quickly, and the player’s lessons are finally put to the test, a little. It is quite an ask to have a player sink so much time into a game before things get interesting, but this harkens back to the original RPG, which had a similar pace.

Trials of Mana PS4 Review – Battles Remade

Regardless of the difficulty level selected, gameplay has been updated to fit with the remake’s design. Battles are performed in real-time, which is not new for this series. But since the action takes place in a 3D plane, new abilities such as jumping, and dodging have been added. Also, while the action takes place in real-time, selecting an item or character ability pauses everything, which can be useful when facing a late-game boss. Once characters reach certain levels, they can change their class, which unlocks special abilities and additional ability slots. This is standard fare for real-time RPGs but represents an evolution over the systems used in the original release.

Multiplayer was scrapped for this remake, which is a shame. But with the new 3D perspective, multiplayer was always going to be difficult to pull off unless done online. This is a single-player, focused campaign, and the only way to play with others would be a good old-fashioned pass-the-controller, or maybe sharing control via the PS4 Share Play option for friends that can’t currently come over due to that pesky pandemic. A lack of connectivity options in Trials of Mana is not such a bad thing, though it does mean those who can wait a while may be able to score a deal on this game in a few months.

Trials of Mana PS4 Review – Comfort Gaming for the Locked Down Soul

Maybe it’s the times we currently find ourselves in, where venturing outside requires suiting up in the hope that we are able to ward off an invisible enemy known as the novel coronavirus, but the general lightheartedness of Trials of Mana, combined with an easy combat system and bright color palette, can make you forget about what’s going on outside, if only for a few hours at a time. The campaign will take most players around 30 hours to complete, which can also unlock a New Game Plus mode. As there are also six characters to choose from, three at a time, completionists will likely be busy for perhaps three times that amount of hours if they wish to see the ways all of the cutscenes can play out, fully voiced to boot.

Trials of Mana is an escape from reality many of us can use these days. The plot is easy to follow, generally lighthearted, and as mentioned combat is about as easy as it comes. The beginning eight hours or so are very slow-paced, but once the first chapter is cleared, things really pick up. The graphical overhaul leaves a bit to be desired, but the audio work makes up for this, even with the occasionally cheesy dialogue or overdone acting. While RPGs have come a long way since the ‘90s, Trials of Mana stays true to its roots as a game most everyone can enjoy.

Trials of Mana review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.

7.5Bronze Trohpy
  • An entertaining story retold
  • Lengthy and replayable
  • Expanded character options
  • Too easy for veterans of the series
  • Graphics don't impress
  • No multiplayer