More than 20 years after its original PlayStation 1 release, the world of Square Enix’s Legend of Mana has gotten a remaster. Are the quality of life improvements worth it, or does the original reign supreme? Check out our review and find out.
Legend of Mana Remaster Review
When Legend of Mana begins, players choose between a female or male character and then select a weapon. You aren’t locked into the weapon choice, but the character is the one you’ll be for the entire game. The world you inhabit was once home to a great mana tree that spread magic throughout the world. The tree was burned down, and everyone fought for the remaining mana until there was none left. You start playing at a time when the world is empty, and it’s up to you to rebuild it. You then set out from your home on a 25-30 hour adventure.
You begin with your house and a single town to place on the map. The items you place down on the map are called Artifacts. They can be towns, mines, jungles, lakes, and other areas you will explore. Generally, each new Artifact has one quest for you to complete, along with treasure to find. It’s an odd system because there isn’t a main story for you to follow at first; just a number of minor quests to complete. The only downside to this system is if you don’t know where to go for the next quest. There are no waypoints, so often you’ll have to speak with everyone you see until someone gives you a mission.
The combat in this game isn’t turn-based, but instead features a more action RPG-like system. You get into fights, and then the actual fighting is in real-time. It makes for a hit-and-miss combat system that you can sometimes exploit or be exploited by. You can’t swing up or down; just left and right. You have to move your character up and down to get someone above or below you. The hitboxes work the same way; sometimes, you find the mark easy, while other times your weapon goes right through the enemy. That being said, I was able to completely stun lock a couple of bosses by repeatedly doing two-hit combos in the corner. I’m partial to turn-based combat, and this game would have benefited greatly from it.
Legend of Mana also gives players the chance to find monster eggs and hatch them into creatures that travel alongside you. Much like the combat system, the AI leaves much to be desired. Your allies will sometimes be on the opposite side of the screen doing nothing while you are off fighting. Other times, they are taking out three enemies before you can even charge up a special attack. Know what’s cool? Consistency. That’s a really cool thing to have in combat. If you can play with two people, I recommend it, but you’ll also completely dominate the game.
Special attacks are learned from weapons and by crafting instruments to use magic. During combat, you fill up your special bar and press one of the buttons to activate your abilities. These have to do a slight charge up before launching, which often means the enemy will move before you strike. I mostly used large area of effect attacks to avoid this problem. You are invulnerable when charging up your special attack though, meaning you can use it to get out of a sticky situation instead of doing damage.
When you aren’t fighting, you will be back at your house doing work around your yard. Here you can forge new equipment, make new instruments, planet seeds, and take care of your monsters. The price of weapons and armor is absurd, so crafting is beneficial. I upgraded from an iron axe to a silver axe as soon as I got blacksmithing and saved about $3,000. Seeds provide food to feed your monsters to make them more powerful or sell for extra cash. Your monsters can join you on your adventure and fight with you. You can send extra monsters to gather items and gain experience when you are away as well.
The monster-catching mini-game probably could have been its own game. You need to find a monster egg and catch it; simple as that. The eggs are moving when you find them, so you need to lure them into food and wait for them to sleep. The problem is if they see you, they run the other way and ignore the food. Each egg hatches a different type of creature, and then you can decide if you keep it, sell it, or have it stay in your barn. You can only hold five, so selling them eventually becomes mandatory. It’s a fun little side quest you get to do while playing. The only downside is that there aren’t many eggs to find; either that, or I missed them.
As far as improvements are concerned, you can save anywhere and the game autosaves. This is a considerable improvement, because you can easily get killed in battle early on. There is no way to speed things up, but you can turn off encounters if you want. The soundtrack has been rearranged, but you can still use the original music. The PlayStation 4 version used for review had no bugs, crashes, or frame drops.
The Legend of Mana Remaster plays things a bit too safe with its combat system, but this action RPG still proves to be a worthwhile experience. Any old-school Mana fan will not be disappointed.
This review of Legend of Mana Remaster was done on the PlayStation 5 using the PlayStation 4 version of the game. A digital code was provided by the publisher.
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