Preview This RPG series is back in force with a new project that plays like Genshin Impact, and that's great news. We played Visions of Mana and loved it!

Preview This RPG series is back in force with a new project that plays like Genshin Impact, and that's great news. We played Visions of Mana and loved it!

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Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Persona… When we talk about the top Japanese RPG licenses, the same names often come to mind. However, more than 30 years ago, another series saw the light of day and was able to establish itself in the hearts of gamers, especially thanks to a second episode that is part of the pantheon of the genre. Seiken Densetsu (Mana in the West) was, and soon, Seiken Densetsu will be back with a brand new episode called Visions of Mana.

It's easy to define what makes the Mana series so powerful, originally a spin-off from Final Fantasy. After a first game released on the Gameboy called Mystic Quest, it was indeed the second installment, Secret of Mana, that acted as a tidal wave for Western players. Although Japan and the United States (to a lesser extent) saw many JRPGs make their way to their consoles, France was much less fortunate and Secret of Mana was one of the pioneers. Incredible art direction, great graphics, legendary music, an original battle system that mixes Action and RPG and even the ability to play with three players, its qualities were at their zenith. But behind the infinite memories that this work will have left in players, the sequel was more complicated: Seiken Densetsu 3 and Legend of Mana were not released in France at the time and between the spin-offs and the somewhat underrated episodes, the series has lost its aura.

Can Visions of Mana be considered a savior? Possible. The first good news comes from the presence of Koichi Ishii, creator of the series, which marks his return after 17 years with other licenses. This is no accident since Visions of Mana is clearly presented as a return to basics and does not hide it. From the title screen, which sees the main characters facing the giant Mana tree, we immediately understand that they are fans of Secret of Mana who are in the nostalgic sights of Square Enix and Ouka Studios. Good choice, especially since the fevered remake of the iconic episode of the saga certainly did not pay homage to it.

The initial step is very simple to understand. Every four years, souls are chosen to serve as offerings to the Mana tree to regenerate it, thus protecting the world from the invasion of darkness. They are then accompanied by a soul keeper to ensure they arrive safely. This guardian of the soul is Val, the main hero of the story, who will quickly find two companions on the way to experience the adventure for three. Note, however, that unlike Secret of Mana, this is indeed a single-player game. On their journey, they will visit new areas, face terrible monsters and of course find powerful elemental avatars that will give them new powers.

In fact, Visions of Mana offers large open spaces that you can walk around freely. Points of interest allow you to identify chests, quests, teleportation points, as well as elemental channels that unlock passages. Thus, using the element of wind in an appropriate channel, we activate a mini-tornado that helps us reach hard-to-reach places. If, like me, you're too lazy to walk all that way on your little legs, you can also ride on the back of Pikul, a kind of giant Japanese spitz. In mind and in-universe, we get the impression that we're playing a less vertical Genshin Impact, to take an example from a popular game. It is beautiful, even visually successful, so much so that we enjoyed capturing the large area we were allowed to visit. However, it's worth noting a very classic aspect to the structure, mainly with some go-defeat-the-enemies-over-style missions where they could prove difficult for experienced players if repeated long-term. We won't be able to tell you with a one-hour play session. Just one thing, Visions of Mana wants to be accessible, maybe not to those new to video games, but at least to casual gamers.

So let's get to the main course, the matches. Each of the three characters has a normal attack, a powerful cooldown attack, and three skills that require MP to use. Decisive action, Visions of Mana allows you to switch from one character to another with a touch, which gives us access to a variety of attacks, while enhancing the tactical aspect, choosing to concentrate your forces on a single enemy per instance. Here we find the Square Enix touch and in spirit, the gameplay is not far from the remakes of Final Fantasy 7 except that there are no ATB bars, so we definitely get away from the semi-tour per turn that we could find in Secret of Mother specifically. Instead, we find the famous Ring System, the active pause that allows you to select items or skills to use in the middle of battle thanks to a ring menu, an invention of the series for those who did not know. Without a doubt, the races are successful especially as the possibilities are multiplied by the class system.

This RPG series is back in force with a new project that plays like Genshin Impact, and that's great news.  We played Visions of Mana and loved it!

Indeed, each item you collect can be combined with one of your three characters to unlock a new class, complete with its own skills and attacks. The fun part is that the class that is unlocked depends on the character. So each primary opens three different classes and if we are to believe the habits of the series, we could at least count on 8 primary. So this opens up a lot of combinations to which must be added the ability to enhance your weapons with passive skills of your choice through a crafting system.

Obviously, this short play session doesn't allow us to form a definitive opinion on Visions of Mana, but we were pleasantly surprised by the overall experience. It is clean, tolerant, very easy to use, everything we expect from such a cute A-RPG in a nutshell. The music is not to be missed, with Hiroki Kikuta returning to the composition, having already created one of the best soundtracks of all time with Secret of Mana. He's certainly not alone, but that's still very good news.

Our impressions

Visions of Mana doesn't want to hide its ambition: to deliver a fun and accessible experience that will delight fans of old school A-RPGs and more specifically Secret of Mana. With that in mind, it has a few cards to play with, mostly thanks to very good character design, open environments à la Genshin Impact, and efficient, technical-free gameplay. Whether the formula holds up in the long run remains to be seen, but in absolute terms, the 'Mana' series could very well receive its best episode in 25 years.

Editorial view

Promising

This RPG series is back in force with a new project that plays like Genshin Impact, and that's great news.  We played Visions of Mana and loved it!

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