Right now, I'm looking for just about any way to distract myself from the craziness of the real-world. So, when I heard that a colorful remake of a JRPG classic from 1995 was coming to PC in the form of Trials of Mana, I jumped at the chance to review it. The original game initially only released in Japan on the Famicom under the name Seiken Densetsu 3. Since gaming has come a long way in the past 25 years, I was curious to see how a 90s game would fair with updated mechanics.
In some ways, it definitely feels like this game is a relic from the 90s based on the character personalities and storylines. While it is a lighthearted distraction, that feels an awful lot like a toned-down version of Dragon Quest XI, I will say that this game is too simplistic for people who prefer more complex JRPGs. But if you're simply looking for a fantasy story, it's a fun game to play.
In Trials of Mana, players choose three characters from a list of six heroes. The story that unfolds and the fighting style of your team will depend on which characters you choose. The story revolves around the fact that long ago, a goddess fought a great evil by sealing away powerful Mana Stones before turning herself into the Mana tree. It's your job to rescue these stones from evil hands and then bring peace back to the world. You'll discover the origin stories of each of your team members along the way.
Without further ado, here's my full review for Trials of Mana.
Bottom line: Trials of Mana gives modern features to a lesser-known classic. Combat tends to be overly simple, and the story is really basic, but it's still a fun, colorful adventure for JRPG fans to experience.
- A colorful fantasy world
- Rewards you for exploring
- It's a relaxing game to play
- Lots of replay value
- Overly simplistic combat
- Simple storylines
- Charlotte's voice is annoying
What I loved about Trials of Mana
|Trials of Mana
|Windows 8.1/10 64-bit
|AMD A-Series 2.5GHz/Intel Core i3 2.5GHz | AMD Ryzen 3 1200/Intel Core i5 2.5 GHz
|4GB | 8GB
|AMD Radeon RX 460/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 | AMD Radeon RX 470/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
|Needs 20GB of disk space
Trials of Mana takes place in a gorgeous land that's bursting with color. In many ways, the character personalities and storyline make it the epitome of a 90s fantasy game. But it also feels strangely familiar to Dragon Quest XI. and that's not just because of the basic JRPG mechanics.
In both games, one of the most powerful magic users on your team has the body of a child, there are silly creatures hidden in each level for you to find, several of the bad guys have similar designs between the two games, you're trying to collect stones from around the world in both adventures, and the end goal is to eventually get to a sacred tree. Really, the only big changes are the fact that Trials of Mana doesn't have Puff Puff Girls, and you can only have three characters on your team at a time. But that means that if you enjoyed Dragons Quest, you might like this game.
Replay value Six characters to choose from
When you start your adventure, you're asked to choose three characters from a list of six heroes: The main character, a companion 1, and a companion 2. Each figure has their own backstory, their own unique weapon, and their own main villain. The storyline you unravel will correspond with whomever you choose as your main character. However, the dialogue spoken between characters during your journey will be different depending on who's in your party.
There are also three different antagonists for you to go up against depending on who's in your team. Duran and Angela share the magic-wielding Crimson Wizard as their overall villain, Charlotte and Kevin share the soul-eating Goremand as their villain, and finally, Riesz and Hawkeye share the femme fatale Belladonna as their villain.
That means that after you've beaten the game once, you can choose to play again with a different set of characters. You'll discover new plot points, enemies, fighting styles, character relationships, and backstories from when you played before. That definitely keeps things interesting.
You're going to want to play again since the heroes that you don't choose for your team will still make brief cameos in your adventure. You might even get a few glimpses of the other villains, but not be able to do anything about them. Being able to see these other characters but not being able to see where their story goes piqued my interest and made me want to play again with a different team.
A gorgeous world Fantasy locals to discover
While running around in Trials of Mana, you'll enter medieval castles, dungeon prisons, dwarf caves, an elven village, and several other iconic fantasy settings. The environments and enemies you encounter are all brightly colored and beautiful to look at.
I'll admit that I do feel a little strange attacking the adorable Rabites or the Chobin Hood enemies as they seem like cute little critters that are just trying to protect their homes rather than brutal enemies. But how else are you going to earn experience points? You'll unlock more attacks as you continue to fight and can even discover chain attacks for each of your team members to use.
On top of that, each time you encounter a Mana Stone, your characters can level up to a new class. This not only makes them more powerful, but it also changes the clothing each character wears, which, in my opinion, makes them more interesting to look at as the game goes on.
Rewards you for exploring Check every nook and cranny
I love it when there are hidden items and goodies for me to find while I'm exploring a map, and Trials of Mana had plenty of that. You'll discover money, healing items, treasure chests, and more hidden in alleyways or behind large trees. It encourages you to run around each area. If you take the time to search, you're more likely to be able to afford weapons and gear upgrades when you reach the next town.
What I disliked about Trials of Mana
While Trials of Mana allows you to slip back in time into a 90s-era gaming adventure, there are several things I didn't like about this remake.
Basic story and battle mechanics Maybe a little too faithful to the original
To be honest, I never played the original game, even after it was released in 2019 for Nintendo Switch as part of the Collection of Mana. However, I'm no stranger to JRPGs. As I played through Trials of Mana, it felt like I was hitting one fantasy cliche after another. And granted, this is a 90s remake, and that's kind of what JRPGs are like to begin with, but I just wish that the story, characters, and battle mechanics had gotten a little more of an update along with the graphics.
The plot moves along rapidly, giving gameplay more of an objective focus rather than an exploratory one. For instance, you might enter a town only to be told that you need to talk to this specific character. Once that's done, it's already time to leave and move onto the next area. It makes it feel like you're just checking off a list instead of playing on your own. I wish the game allowed for a little more exploration instead of telling you exactly where you need to go all of the time.
While on that subject, the combat mechanics are pretty simple. It isn't turn-based like you might imagine. So you can attack or dodge whenever you feel like it. However, battles are a little too easy. I never once had my team die or even came close to dying while playing this game. You literally just click your mouse over and over to hack away at your enemies and jump out of the way when needed. Some of the bosses require a little more strategy, but it really isn't that hard to beat them. For that reason, I'd recommend that anyone who plans to play the game in Normal mode should bump it up to Hard.
Charlotte Just stop talking
As far as JRPGs go, I always like having a dedicated healer in my party. That way, I can protect my heavy hitters and my ranged fighters while they take to the front lines. The thing is, the most potent healer in Trials of Mana is Charlotte, who looks like a young child but is, in fact, 15 years old. Charlotte's out to prove that she is a mature adult who can take care of herself. Despite this, she talks like a baby and, more often than not, breaks down crying during a scene. She's supposed to come off as cute, but everything from her Ronald McDonald shoes to her baby voice is just annoying.
I got a taste of her voice when I first scrolled over her image at the beginning of the game and heard her say, "Twials of Mana." It was really off-putting, but I figured it would be better to have a powerful healer as my third character rather than anyone else. I honestly have regretted the decision the whole time that I've been playing. Whenever Charlotte starts talking, I end up speeding through her dialogue. The subtitles aren't that much help either because it's hard to tell what she's saying when reading her "W"-infested comments. If she would just talk normally, I'd like to have her in my party a lot better. Fortunately, you can play the game without having her be a member of your team.
Should you buy Trials of Mana?
If you're a fan of JRPGS like Dragon Quest XI and you're looking for a fantasy adventure, then Trials of Mana just might be the game for you. You get to explore a colorful world filled with magic, faeries, and sword fights. The character personalities and storylines admittedly aren't very deep compared to some other games out there, but playing Trials of Mana just might send you into a 90s flashback with how many fantasy tropes it uses.
If nothing else, the fact that you can experience a completely different game depending on which characters you choose for your team really gives Trials of Mana a lot of replay value. The game does feel a little too objective focused at times instead of feeling like an unfolding experience, but it's still fun to play.
A remade 90s JRPG
Choose three of the six available heroes and then see how the story unravels. Each character has their own fighting style, class development, and back story for you to explore. Will your party be able to save the Mana tree from one of three villains?
Self-professed gaming geek, Rebecca Spear, is one of Windows Central's gaming editors with a focus on gaming handhelds, PC gaming, and laptops. When she isn't checking out the latest games on Xbox Game Pass, PC, ROG Ally, or Steam Deck; she can be found digital drawing with a Wacom tablet. She's written thousands of game guides, previews, features, and hardware reviews over the last few years. If you need information about anything gaming-related, her articles can help you out. She also loves testing game accessories and any new tech on the market. You can follow her @rrspear on X (formerly Twitter).