Visions of Mana

Visions of Mana Is An Adventure I’m Ready For

I haven’t played a game in the Mana series since Secrets of Mana on SNES, which was back in 1993. At the time, it was one of my favourite games because of the rich story and at the time amazing graphics. When I found out I would get a chance to play Vision of Mana early, I was excited but met with some laughter from the team here at Console Creatures because I’m not exactly an RPG expert.

My first glimpse of Visions of Mana was at the Xbox Developer Direct, which blew me away. The art design and the fact I had so many fond memories of the series made me think that this would be the perfect game for me to introduce RPGs to my daughter. She is big into Pokémon and video games now, and Visions of Mana is an excellent way for me to introduce her to the genre. Any game I can play with or watch my daughter play instantly becomes my favourite. When I showed her the trailer for Visions of Mana, she instantly said we needed to play that game and let me know it had some “cute” animals in the trailer.

In Tianeea, a village known for its mastery over fire, the locals are gearing up to celebrate the arrival of the Faerie and the naming of an alm. Every four years, a select few alms from around the world are chosen to embark on a journey to the Tree of Mana to rejuvenate the flow of mana power. A soul guard is chosen to ensure these alms’ safe pilgrimage. Val happens to be one such guard.

With the imminent arrival of the Faerie, Val assists by bringing his childhood friend to the festival. As night sets in, the Faerie meets Val’s friend and appoints her the Alm of Fire.

I played two sections of Visions of Mana at the event: Mt. Gala and Fallow Steppe. The demos I played were not the finished game, and I will discuss zero points of the story. After playing, I will share my initial thoughts on gameplay, art direction, combat, traversal, and hype level.

Visions of Mana’s still in development but looks wonderful

The first demo section I played was Fallow Steppe, an open-world game section. I got to take my party, which is made up of Val, Hinna, Careena and Morely, who are alms you can switch between at any time across a beautifully bright open mountain range with trees, farms, houses, and enemies scattered all around. Throughout the world, I found items to collect, including coins, which I’m guessing are for currency, but we didn’t get to use them for anything. The Follow Steppe section of the demo was bright and colourful and was a theme of my playthrough in both demos.

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The cast is charming, like Val, the protagonist with a heart of gold. He loves to help those in need, like his childhood friend Hinna.

Not many details are given during the demo session, but we also meet Careena, another Alm from Longren, the Vale of the Wind.

I learned she had an accident that took one of her wins, but she’s pushed through to continue her journey with her best friend, Ramcoh.

Morely, who hails from the Moonlit Parish and has carried a tremendous weight on his shoulders since a young age, rounded out the cast during my demo.

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The world Square Enix built with Visions of Mana appeals to the eye and is brimming with colour and details, and even though it was an early build, it looked excellent.  There are enemies if you are looking for them, which you can battle with your party, where I quickly learn which strikes affected which enemy. Some characters’ combat felt similar, but Careena had Ramcoh with her, her baby sacred beast companion who could help in battle. The difference in combat comes from their Elemental Vessels, which can be used for exploration, battles, and switching classes.

These Elemental Vessels are found throughout the land and harness the power to generate wind, move rocks, slow down time to open new paths and find items hidden on the map. You can even revisit areas once with newer vessels to discover secrets hidden on the map.

We saw an example in Mt. Gala using the Vessel of Wind, Sylphid Boomerang, which controls air currents. Using air currents, you can create gusts of wind to boost your jumps to get across more significant gaps or pull rocks to and from ledges.

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The levels are semi-open, so using Vessels is a necessity. Another neat Vessel is the Vessle of the Moon, the Luna Globe. This one manipulates the flow of time, allowing you to slow down to move around obstacles or revert an area to a previous state.

Both Sylphid Boomerang and Luna Globe are viable choices for defeating enemies in battle. Using the power of wind in battle allows you to throw around enemies or suspend them in the air to deal damage, while the power of the moon decreases enemy movement speed or shortens spell-casting time.

I mentioned that you can switch classes in battle by obtaining Elemental Vessels. Different classes unlock different stats and weapon types, which should be familiar if you’ve played Trials of Mana. Some abilities even allow you to restrict enemy movement or heal allies, so you need to switch classes to discover what’s available.

Each character also has a fighting style, and during my playthroughs, I found myself using Morely the most with his hack-and-slash and quick strikes.

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The Fellow Steppe demo showed me how exploration could happen in Visions of Mana and the variety of terrain. It had much more to offer regarding exploration and didn’t feel linear. I was met with side quests, but I wasn’t yet ready to tackle them, given my level was below the requirement. I’m excited to play Visions of Mana when it releases to see what else can be done.

Elemental Vessels are mystical artifacts that house the power of the elements within each character that contain mana. The elemental powers you use for exploration are scattered across the world and can be seen by this glowing object in front of you that, when you interact with it, can help you traverse a particular situation.

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I used this power in the Mt. Gala section of my demo, and it whisked me into the air to get across large rock formations. During the Mt. Gala demo, I encountered my first and only boss battle, which was at the end of the demo. During this battle, I used my Elemental Vessel to switch my class of Val. When switching classes, I now have a new ability and a nice-looking armour set on Val. The new ability I tried was Luna Globe, which slows down time and allows you and your team to get more attacks on the boss or enemy you’re fighting. The boss battle wasn’t too difficult even for me, but I’m guessing it was set up for the demo so we could better understand the combat systems. The boss has a variety of move sets, but once I learned its pattern, I was able to win the fight. I enjoyed it so much that I played the Mt. Gala demo twice to see if I could beat the boss faster on the second run.

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While playing Visions of Mana, I stopped and looked at the world Square Enix had built around these characters. I remembered my days on the SNES and how far video games have come since then. It is truly magical what developers can do with games, sending you to this fantasy world where you want to continue spending time. I never thought I would say I was excited about Visions of Mana when it was released in the summer of 2024, but here we are.

After playing the two demos, I’m sold that this is a day-one purchase for me, and I can’t wait to relive some childhood memories and now include my daughter in them.

Visions of Mana will be released in summer 2024 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, Windows, and Steam.