The strict Legend of Mana “stan” secured access to the Echoes of Mana closed beta for the Japanese server, with this session scheduled to run from 16 November 2021, 15:00 JST to 24 November 2021, 14:59 JST. Without further ado, check out my impressions of this build! Echoes of Mana is currently planned for a 2022 simultaneous worldwide release.
A Mana game not having gorgeous visuals sounds like an absolute travesty, but fortunately, Echoes of Mana is gorgeous. If you like HACCAN’s artwork, it’s pretty much all around here, seen in the characters and the “Memory Gems”, which basically work like Fate/Grand Order‘s Craft Essences and other similar games.
The closed beta is in Japanese only, with some of the text boxes strangely rendered in English. Unlike my time during the Alchemy Stars closed beta, the English text is an oddity rather than throughout, so I basically understand nothing. At this juncture, it’s hard to determine if the game’s story will be fully voiced, as some oddities with the Auto play cut off actual voiced dialogue, while the other characters are either silent (the protagonist) or stock clips. If you choose to skip the story section, you can actually read the entire text log instead of a summary. Sprites have some animations, for blinking and mouth flaps.
From what I can see, 3- and 4-star characters have some light Live2D effects when in their details screen, with lower rarities remaining static. Whether the effects are applied to characters who have been raised to that star level, I can’t tell as yet. One nice touch is that high rarity characters you summon are also accompanied by their game’s main menu music. Speaking of the music, I have no complaints. I believe that the stages use slightly arranged tracks of the featured game’s OST, but I’m not too confident on the games outside of Legend of Mana.
The colours are mostly vibrant and colourful, as I would expect of this series, really. The spritework aren’t pixels, 3D or chibi, basically rigging 2D art to move around a side-scrolling 2D plane. The menus are alright, with some of the difficulty coming from not understanding the language.
Echoes of Mana is a 2D side-scrolling action game at its core. You can bring up to 6 characters in a party, 3 of whom will appear on the field at any time. You can simply tap on their portrait to swap them in. There’s no virtual joystick, while the skills are on the lower right of the screen. You should be able to bring up to 4 skills, besides your auto attack and your Special. Skills use mana / MP.
Your Specials can be used once charged up to 100%, which then contributes to a Elemental Sprite summoning in the top right. It requires 3 of these Specials to be used, with the element depending on the first used Special, or the majority element e.g.:
- 1. Aura, 2. Undine, 3. Jinn = Aura
- 1. Undine, 2. Undine, 3. Gnome = Undine
The maps are very slightly non-linear, with occasional branching paths that may have destructible “terrain” for treasure or Mana statues. The Auto Battle AI is not good at this point, as they ignore chests, won’t use Mana statues nor summon the Elemental Sprites. There’s a Semi Auto setting but without knowing the language, I can’t be sure what I can change.
You can bring up to 4 consumable items to a map, and use “boost” items. There are 2 “stamina” bars, with the orange / gold one used for story or event quests, and the blue for your material grind. For now, if you fail a quest, the stamina appears to be consumed regardless. At the very least, there’s an auto repeat where you can set a number of tries and use stamina replenishing items as needed. It doesn’t appear to tell you if you have enough stamina to run the quest, something to fix for launch.
In combat, enemies can inflict status effects on you, or knockback. There is that dodge button of sorts to help you get out of the way, like how some bosses will have this area of effect zone coloured in red. I believe you have some invincibility frames on casting skills but it’s somewhat hard to tell. There will be multiplayer battles, something I don’t believe is currently available.
The 7 elements are here from the mainline games, so the elemental chart is definitely in. There’s no “obvious” legend for their weaknesses / strengths, and it’s entirely possible I missed it somewhere.
Characters can be “evolved” up to 6-stars, increasing their level cap as they go. Characters can be equipped with “Memory Gems”, the previously mentioned “Craft Essences” of this game. They can also equip… well, equipment, that look to give set bonuses. You have the 3 piece “Protector” set (armour), and 3 piece Accessory set. Characters have limit breaks, and one more level that appears to require level 100. I’m not sure where else you can get equipment early on besides drops.
In addition, the Mana Boards you might be familiar with from Trials of Mana (as a most recent example) are here as well, where you can get materials to max out various parameters. Hitting a 100% Mana Board and level cap is required for Evolution, along with an additional material.
Memory Gems are pretty straightforward. Each character can equip one and getting its respective bonus stats. Memory Gems can also be limit-broken.
This being a gacha game, one must of course check out the rates. 4-stars are the highest base rarity, with 3% for characters, and 1.5% for Memory Gems. The individual rates for a specific item are not great, nor is there a pity system currently implemented.
What is nice is that you can check out the characters in a trial battle, to see their Special cut-ins and the effects of their skills.
The beta uses 2700 currency for a 10-pull, and 300 for a single, so save those gems!
Presentation wise, I do love how Echoes of Mana looks, with the ever familiar art style that I am fond of. The music is one I look forward to get a CD for, or at least, listen to on loop should it be uploaded somewhere.
I don’t have strong feelings about the gameplay. It’s pretty easy to execute, and you’d definitely prefer manual control when it comes to boss fights. It’s probably going to be quite a bit of grinding especially to unlock Mana Boards for your characters. Outside of that, the actual “evolution” and limit breaking is relatively easy, as you can use an alternate material instead of a duplicate.
I do think it has the potential to be a pretty good gateway into the Mana series as it stands. I’ll keep an eye out for certain, to get my Legend of Mana rep in.