A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Depending on the heroes they choose at the game's start, players will encounter varying themes, such as the relationships between parents and children, the bonds between siblings, and putting up challenges to established authority. Messages that run through the game for all characters include friendship and responsibility.
Positive Role Models
The main heroes are a mixed lot, including, for example, a thief who robs from the rich to give to the poor and a spoiled princess who doesn't take anything seriously until her mother threatens to sacrifice her. But all of them find their inner nobility when the going gets rough, revealing how much they care and what they're willing to sacrifice.
Ease of Play
The real-time combat is very easy to start, taking several hours to grow much in challenge. Multiple difficulty options allow players to tailor the experience to their abilities, but even the hardest difficulty isn't terribly tough. In-game tutorials lead players through the basics.
Violence & Scariness
The player's characters use melee weapons -- swords, staffs, daggers -- against enemies both human and fantastical. Successful strikes are accompanied by flashes of light (without blood or gore), and enemies disappear upon defeat. The colorful anime cartoon presentation and distant third-person perspective helps keep things from growing too dark, though important characters beloved by the game's heroes die through the course of the story.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Many female characters are dressed provocatively, with the camera lingering on scantily covered, heaving breasts.
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Products & Purchases
This is a remake of a role-playing game originally released in 1995.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Bottles of (what is presumably) alcohol sit on shelves, counters, and tables.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Trials of Mana is a role-plaing game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. The game's a remake of a Japanese role-playing game originally released in 1995. It stars a diverse cast of characters, and players choose one of these to serve as the main hero and others to be companions. Each has their own troubled backstory that forces them to head out on an adventure, such as the captain of the guard in a mountain realm that's invaded. Some heroes are a bit selfish to start, but all of them eventually find their inner good as they make new friends, make sacrifices, and help people in need. Combat against humans and fantasy creatures involves standard melee weaponry, including swords and staffs, but the action's bloodless -- expect nothing more than flashes of light and disappearing bodies. That said, several characters important to the heroes are shown hurt or dying in non-interactive narrative scenes. Parents should also be aware that several female characters are depicted wearing provocative clothes, including low cut tops that reveal lots of cleavage and heaving breasts on which the camera sometimes lingers.
Is It Any Good?
This is a simple Japanese RPG that remains faithful to the game upon which it's based. Trials of Mana's battles are fast paced and relatively basic, with players hammering buttons to hit foes and evade enemy attacks, calling on gradually unlocked abilities to unleash more powerful moves once an energy bar fills. The dungeons and country areas between towns are fairly linear, so it generally doesn't take too long to find your way to your objectives. Towns are also pretty small, with only a handful of important conversations to be had with key people marked by star icons, meaning players won't get sucked into seemingly endless pointless dialogue. And everything is presented in an arresting anime style that helps give a bit of added personality to the main characters, who otherwise might seem a tad shallow thanks to some pretty generic writing.
The simplicity of it all might be refreshing for some, but others are likely to feel a little underwhelmed. The combat, for example, isn't particularly strategic -- even in boss fights. It demands more in the way of patience than serious thought. The leveling system, weapons and armor, and character growth are also on the basic side. Players simply assign earned points to attributes whenever they level up, and there's really not much variety in weapons, armor, or accessories. More powerful gear gets doled out at shops on a regular basis, and it's rarely too expensive to afford the instant you find it. That said, this simplicity is clearly meant to be part of the game's retro appeal -- a change of sorts from the endlessly complicated systems and hyper realistic presentation that have become the norm for modern blockbuster role-playing games. If you're looking for a little blast from the past in handsome anime packaging, you could definitely do worse than Trials of Mana.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.