Seiken Densetsu, better known in the West as the "Mana" saga, is one of the oldest Squaresoft franchises -the current Square-Enix after its merger in 2003-, one of those eternal unnoticed when we talk about the successes of the company, almost always associated with the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest brands. So much so that the first Seiken Densetsu, released in 1991 for the first Game Boy, did so under the name Final Fantasy Gaiden - Mystic Quest in Europe - for fear of low sales and it was indeed a spin off of the star saga of Hinoburo Sakaguchi.
In 2018, Octopath Traveler arrived on Nintendo Switch, a curious role-playing game that presented an original game system in which its eight playable characters interfered with the plots of others and created different situations according to the members of our group. What people do not know is that the germ of this had already been created previously in Trials of Mana –Seiken Densetsu 3-, the third installment of the saga in question that was released in 1995 for SNES and now comes to us in the form of a remake three-dimensional for Switch, PlayStation 4 and Steam.
But let's put ourselves in context: the Seiken Densetsu saga almost always revolves around the mana tree, a concept very present in many mythologies and religions of our world. This tree is tied to the energy of the entire planet and if that tree dries up or dies, terrible misfortunes will occur. Under the tree's feet, the famous mana sword is nailed, a very powerful weapon capable of carrying its wielder to fulfill whatever its objective. In the case of the game at hand today, the mana tree is weakening and only the power of the eight benevodons can return it to normal. Our protagonist, whoever he is, must embark on the odyssey of meeting these spirits and restoring the power of the tree while dealing with the military interests of a world on the brink of war.
And I have said that whoever is our protagonist is because we will have more than one and all equally important. We will have 6 playable characters that we can select as soon as the game begins, one main and two others that will serve as support in the combats: Durán, Angela, Kevin, Charlotte, Falco and Lis. The character that we select as the main one will be the key to everything, since the story will revolve around him or her, our companions will be simple secondaries almost relegated to help us in battles.
The truth is that we are facing a perfect remake. With this I do not mean that it is a perfect game without flaws -that has them-, but that we are facing a remake in the purest and most literal sense of the word. Everything in this new Trials of Mana is identical to the original installment: characters, artistic design, locations ... even the dialogues are exactly the same, but now in polygonal instead of 2D.
Square-Enix has limited itself to taking the original game as-is and remaking it with a three-dimensional look, missing the opportunity to add new content to expand the game world or add more updated mechanics. We do not ask for a radical change like the one in Final Fantasy VII Remake, but it is true that the game is too conservative, giving the feeling of being a game from 25 years ago with a simple visual wash.
Entering the playable terrain, personally, the combat resembles a more basic and simplified version of the Kingdom Hearts, both in the handling of the character and in the attacks. We have a weak attack, another stronger attack that we can also load, another to roll and of course the jump. We can also have commands such as magic, special attacks and objects that we can assign to the L and R buttons to use at any time.
The truth is that the combat system does not have too much complexity or depth, at least in terms of direct control, in fact most of the times it will be enough to pound the attack button without stopping until the enemies fall. Despite this, this strategy can be useful in the early stages of the game, but little by little we will see that this is not going to be enough for us if we want to survive
This does not mean that the system is completely flat, because when we level up they will give us points that we can invest in acquiring new techniques or passive skills with which to make our battles easier. To offer a little more variety to the gameplay, we will also have a class system or «jobs» that change the stats and abilities of each character. We will have up to 8 classes for each character -two of them totally new for this remake- until we make a total of 48, classes that we can change once we have reached a certain level of experience. This class system is a little different from what has been usual in RPGs, since they are divided into a branched system based on light and dark, for example having a light> dark class or another that is dark> dark according to our choices .
As for the exploration, it could be said that we have the right and necessary if we compare it with other RPG games. Although it is true that the stage design is good and allows some freedom when moving, normally the tours are quite guided, with some dead ends in which chests or consumable objects will normally be hidden. In cities it is perhaps where we can get lost the most, although most have a fairly recognizable design with few houses and establishments to enter.
Again, the origin of this problem is the move to three dimensions, where it has been chosen to maintain the same path and dungeon design as in the original 2D release, in which it looked great and was effective, but it loses quite a lot seen from another free camera angle that allows you to see everything at a first glance. A redesign of the mapping would have been great without that necessarily meaning to stop being faithful to the original version.
In conclusion, Trials of Mana is an excellent set-up of the original game that will appeal to everyone. It may not be perfect and there are elements out of date today that are noticeable within a few hours of play, but those who played the original in their day will enjoy it again remembering all the good times, while new additions will discover this excellent work updated to this day.