PAX East Hands-on: Visions of Mana

28 Mar 2024

It’s been more than 30 years since the Mana series debuted with Final Fantasy Adventure, and in that time more than a dozen entries in the series have been released on a variety of platforms, but Visions of Mana – the new offering from Square Enix scheduled to be released later this year – is first “mainline” title in the Mana series since Dawn of Mana way back in 2006.

After a few words of introduction from producer Masaru Oyamada, we were treated to a hands-on preview of two different areas of the upcoming game – Fallow Steppe and Mt. Gala.

The initial impression is certainly of the quality and style of the graphics. True to the series, the aesthetic is full color saturation and cartoon-like, in a satisfying way. It is complex with beautiful landscapes with a long draw distance revealing far off destinations. While we were only able to preview two areas, the graphics did not disappoint.

The gameplay we encountered was fairly simple. The first zone we experienced – Fallow Steppe – was an open world meadow-like zone. Mobs roamed the lands and, when you got too close, battle ensued. Visions of Mana fits squarely into the action RPG genre, and your buttons are your standard quick attack, power attack, jump, and dodge. You can quickly hot-swap (with up/down) between four characters, each with the same standard moves, but each character also has a series of special elemental attacks which can be used when their elemental gauge fills up. Battles with the roaming mobs were short and easy, although whether this was specifically tuned for a PAX preview was unclear. You can run away after engaging, but avoiding the roaming mobs was also easy here as the zone was very spread out. Scattered around the zone are various orbs, chests, and other things to collect. A trusty mount – Pikul – was also available to quickly traverse the terrain.

The second zone, Mt. Gala, was more linear with some light platforming, and concluded with a boss fight against a giant mantis with various targetable body parts.

There was not a lot filling the world in the form of side quests or activities, but as a preview it was nevertheless enjoyable. Visions of Mana is certainly a game to keep an eye on as it gets closer to launch later this year.

Images and video courtesy of Square Enix