A faithful reimagination of a classic

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Classic JRPGs are a genre with moments. has brought new life and a new generation of players to one of the most popular franchises in the world. Recently has given us a spiritual sequel to Ogre Battle that is so good that even series creator Yasumi Matsuno (and director of Final Fantasy Tactics) he is . And later this summer, Square Enix challenged itself and reimagined one of the most beloved SNES titles after more than 15 years. But now I’ve had the chance to preview it. Vision of Manait seems like the developers have kept the spirit of the franchise but in a game that feels more at home in 2024.

One of the most difficult for The vision and transition from classic 2D games to a rich and developed 3D world. And while there are visual similarities to the latest Dragon Quest games, I think Square Enix has done a great job of keeping the franchise’s identity. The game’s color scheme is bright and vibrant, recreating many of the pastel colors seen in previous games. The design of the character favors beauty and elegance in contrast to some of the dark and elegant competitors, which give the theme an interesting look, such as The Secret of Mana he did more than twenty years ago.

In battle, the Sylphid Boomerang can be used to trap enemies, dealing damage and knocking enemies out of the storm.

In battle, the Sylphid Boomerang can be used to trap enemies, dealing damage and knocking enemies out of the storm. (Square Enix)

Another thing that has translated very well is his gameplay. Back in 1993, The Secret of Mana the series of rings was praised for making it easy to switch between weapons and items (or even characters) without making combat too difficult or difficult. And since the Mana franchise jumped to exercise (instead of turns) way before the Final Fantasy games, Vision’s assortment of speedy combo-based, spell and Class strikes (which are like limit. breaks) is perfect. You can also launch enemies into the air and drop punches while they’re parked, which is great because I suck at any game with aerial juggles.

Each of the four characters (Val, Hinna, Careena and Morley) also have different classes like Rune Knight or Oracle, so they all have a unique look and feel in battle. I found myself drawn to the thief/moose Morley, whose katana felt fast and fluid. My minor gripe is that with Square bringing back the idea of ​​three-person parties, things can get tricky when you’re trying to track people doing combos against large groups of enemies.

Pikuls are friendly creatures that the characters in Visions of Mana can ride for fast travel. Pikuls are friendly creatures that the characters in Visions of Mana can ride for fast travel.

Pikuls are friendly creatures that the characters in Visions of Mana can ride for fast travel. (Square Enix)

A very important addition The vision and the introduction of Elemental Vessels, which give you new abilities both in and out of battle. Once you run around the map, similar to things like grappling hooks in Legend of Zelda, ships provide power to pass. For example, Sylphid Bommering allows you to create floating platforms so you can cross valleys with noises or summon hurricanes so you can jump to distant heights. At this point in battle, you can use the boomerang to trap enemies in the air, damaging and scaring surrounding enemies who might want to distract you. So even though it’s not a dealbreaker, I appreciate it anyway The vision It’s using new mechanics to add depth to multiple levels of gameplay.

Unfortunately, one trait of the Mana game that didn’t carry over to Visions is the use of a large list with fear stories. For long-time fans, this may be confusing, but when asked about the change, Visions of Mana producer Masaru Oyamada told me (through a translator) that one of the team’s goals for the episode was a more focused story. So while I wasn’t able to find out much about the game’s plot during my hour-long viewing session, there is hope that Visions will still deliver an interesting story.

A battle scene from Visions of ManaA battle scene from Visions of Mana

Square Enix

But my biggest takeaway from the preview is how Oyamada is trying to honor the legacy of such a franchise while providing a new and exciting experience for new and old players alike. Oyamada said: “I thought a lot about the things I liked when I was a kid, so I leaned on those thoughts to make the latest choices in this series.”

On top of that, I love how mechanics like the Ring menu really pulls double duty into the game. Oyamada told me that not only is this system a shock to players familiar with the franchise, it also serves as an important access tool that makes it easy to adjust and plan your attacks in the heat of battle. Meanwhile, to help the series grow and evolve, Oyamada said “We decided to start as something that was underutilized and underappreciated in previous Mana games.”

The art of Visions of Mana brings back the previous writings thanks to its bright colors and beautiful design. The art of Visions of Mana brings back the previous writings thanks to its bright colors and beautiful design.

Square Enix

And Oyamada supervised the remasters The Secret of Mana, Trials of Mana (AKA Seiken Densetsu 3) and others in recent years, although the main development team has moved on, it’s clear that Square Enix has kept much of the DNA that made the previous Mana games great all those years ago.

In some ways, I wish the game was called Spirit of Mana, because it feels like a more appropriate title for a series whose last entry was released in 1995. Regardless, I can’t wait to play it more when Vision of Mana it goes on sale sometime this summer.

The last note is that Vision of Mana is expected to be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X and PC. Meanwhile, Square Enix says that “We are looking to support Steam Deck compatibility, we cannot confirm at this time as we are developing the game.”

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