Visions of Mana is lining up to be RPG comfort food

The latest in the Mana series doesn't look like it's changed much and after trying it out, that feels just fine.

Square Enix

In 2020, Square Enix re-released a classic game in the Mana series. Trials of Mana wasn't a new chapter in the series, but rather a remake of a classic title never released in North America. It was new to Western audiences and, more importantly, showed that they still an appetite for these games. Fast-forward four years and Square Enix is finally working on a new Mana game. Visions of Mana is a brand new installment of the series for the current console generation. Shacknews recently had a chance to give it a look.

Given how deep the Mana lore for any given game can get, Visions of Mana's story is simple, at least for the moment. The story follows childhood friends Val and Hinna. Like the rest of Tianeea, they are preparing to celebrate the arrival of the Faerie, who appoints alms to go to the Tree of Mana and help rejuvenate its flow of power. Unexpectedly, the Faerie names Hinna the Alm of Fire, which means Val must escort her to the Tree of Mana as her soul guard. Along their journey, they'll face harrowing dangers and meet new friends as part of a tumultuous adventure.

The open fields in Visions of Mana

Source: Square Enix

Val fights alongside other playable characters he finds in his travels. Careena is a young dragon girl from Longren, the Vale of Wind. She travels the world despite a terrible accident that left her without a wing and does so alongside Ramcoh, a baby sacred beast. Morley is a cat warrior from Etaern, the Moonlit Parish. He joins Val on his journey as part of his personal journey to cope with the destruction of his home, razed by a terrible disaster.

For those familiar with 2020's Trials of Mana, Visions of Mana works in much the same way. It's a semi-open world action RPG with real-time battles that begin upon confronting any group of enemies in sight. Some areas will be laid out in a more linear fashion to facilitate the story, while others, like fields of Fallow Steppe, will be more wide open to encourage exploration.

Players can venture through open fields at their leisure and search for side quests and treasure chests. They can run around on foot or they can ride the adorable Pikul, which is a lovably furry companion that can trot through large distances quickly. Many areas will be packed with enemies hovering around their experience level, though some heavy hitters will also patrol areas meant for the late game. There weren't many NPCs hanging around during our playthrough, but Square notes that this number will be increased for the final version.

Aerial combat against a giant mantis boss atop Mt. Gala in Visions of Mana

Source: Square Enix

Elementals and corresponding elemental vessels play a big role in Visions of Mana, both in and out of combat. For example, during our time climbing Mt. Gala, Val was able to use the powers of the Vessel of Wind for traversal. The Sylphid Boomerang could control air currents to create powerful gusts capable of carrying the entire party to distant areas. As useful as it is to get across field obstacles, the Sylphid Boomerang is just as useful in combat. It can bind enemies in a mid-air tornado, which can then be broken to hit any foes in the surrounding area. Players will come across elemental vessels throughout the story and will be able to mix and match those with different characters to unlock different classes.

The colorful beauty of the Mana series shines through this early build of Visions of Mana. There were more than a few lingering questions after our time with the game. We're certainly eager to learn more about the story, the characters, the settings, and the villains. We're also eager to uncover more of the game's elemental vessels and see the potential classes that will be made available through them. In our limited time with the game, it played very similarly to Trials of Mana, but that's definitely not a bad thing given what an outstanding experience Trials was. Battles promise to be deeper and allow players to engage in aerial combat, something we saw a small piece of during our fight against a giant mantis atop Mt. Gala.

There's plenty more to come from Visions of Mana and we look forward to seeing more of it. Look for Visions of Mana to release on PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 4 this summer.

This preview is based on an early PlayStation 5 version played during a private press event held in the Square Enix USA offices in Los Angeles, CA. The final product is subject to change.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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