The levels are quite expansive so it’s not like you need to sit there and grind, but on the other hand, the map provides you with poor directions on how to get to where you want to go. Your radar also clues you in on where to go, but if you want to see where you need to get to you need to bring up the pause menu and find out where to go, and even then it doesn’t account for elevation, so you may be right next to where you need to go, but that more than likely means your target is on a higher level than where are currently located. Couple this with the shoddy platforming as I have mentioned before and you have what amounts to a whole lot of frustration. Most levels run about an hour to an hour and a half, and that’s the likely scenario you’ll face going through the first time. Once you get the levels down it’ll be easier to get through.
So the story behind Dawn of Mana takes place on a little island called Illusia, this is where you’ll be spending most of the early chapters as it provides you with a little introduction and instruction to the story and game play. Players control Keldric, a young man not from the isle of Illusia but he is a regular resident. As the main hero he is set out to rescue his friend Ritzia who is a maiden that some believe will re-awaken the great tree. Then you’ve got your typical villain who could give less of a crap about the world as a whole so long as he becomes powerful. It feels real old and tired, and half the time you’re not caring so much about the story because you are so absorbed in battle. And sometime story developments will come via in-game chatter which could easily be missed if things are a little hectic. Some more breaks in the action to develop the characters would have helped out immensely here.
I can’t be totally negative on this game; it looks beautiful and sounds amazing. Graphically this game is top-notch; it runs well, has great art and character design. The title screen brought me back quite a bit and I thought I was about to play something great like Secret of Mana. Imagine my dismay when I found out what was lying beneath. Once you’re out in the open world though this game is quite amazing to look at, the worlds are colorful and expansive, and having the ability to interact with almost everything just results in some of the most beautiful scenes whilst playing. The theme of the game is performed by Grammy award winner Ryuuichi Sakamoto and as a whole the soundtrack works well, though the rock-ish tunes used for boss battles feel a little out of place. Voice acting is solid which caught me off guard.
I wanted to love Dawn of Mana and tell everyone out there that everyone else’s review about this game was wrong. But after the amount of time I’ve spent with this game. I seriously can’t recommend it beyond anything more than a rental. The one dimensional game play has occasional flashes of fun. But from the get do it’s a slow trudge towards a story that tells of the birth of Mana. After the first few chapters though you kind of don’t really care. Best in small doses, Dawn of Mana continues the downward trend in what really should be a flagship series after the strong start it received back in the SNES era.
As much as we want this to be a great game it's probably worth just a rental unless you're a die hard fan.
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