For every good and fair gacha game, there is always a horrid one: one essentially designed to force you into spending excessive money to accomplish in-game goals or get the shiny, desirable character/item. At their core, all gacha is intended to make money first and foremost; every player should understand this going in. As a huge Mana fan, I want nothing more than to sit here and write that Echoes of Mana is a good and fair gacha game with a whole lot of nostalgia mixed in. With the game having been downloaded over four million times worldwide, surely that would be a sign of its quality, right? That, unfortunately, couldn’t be further from the truth of the game, with its horrid business model approach and poor gameplay decisions.
Before we dive into the quagmire of negatives about Echoes of Mana, let’s first look at the game’s good points. Aurally and visually, the game is very pretty. The graphics for a mobile game are colorful and fit the Mana style exceedingly well. Animations are fluid and the special attacks are very faithful to their original counterparts. There is a ton of great music in the game with slight variations of some classic tracks. I personally love all the classic Mana tracks, including their version of “Pain the Universe” from Legend of Mana and “Danger” from Secret of Mana. I am a sucker for awesome boss themes. What can I say? It has that Wright Flyer Studio polish in these areas that made Another Eden super fun to play. The story is also decent and, while it’s nothing to write home about, it is enjoyable (so far) with some funny scenes and cute characters. This is all the praise I can give Echoes of Mana.
Now, let’s move to the worst aspect of this game: the gacha system. Some games manage gacha where you feel at least some hope of getting the prize on the banner, or you eventually get it with pity points after a certain amount of pulls. Echoes of Mana has four issues with its gacha that make it feel very unfair and almost predatory in its approach. First, there are zero free daily pulls in the game. For all the gacha games I have played, this is pretty much unheard of. There was even a free daily pull at the start of Final Fantasy: Record Keeper, my first gacha game, and that came out seven years ago! You need to use your hard-earned gems if you want to scratch that itch to gamble even a little. It is a minor issue but still kind of annoying, as the next issue makes this small one hard to swallow.
The second gacha issue — and most egregious — is the rate of getting a four-star on these banners is pretty horrid. You are not guaranteed a four-star character or memory gem on a ten pull, only a three-star. This isn’t unheard of in other gachas, but the issue is compounded in this game because you are expected to get many duplicate versions of the three- and four-star characters to make them stronger and more versatile. You need six copies of any character to fully power them up via the game’s unleash mechanic. This means you need six with no guarantee that you will even get one, an unrealistic expectation for free-to-play players. It wouldn’t be so bad if the pity rate were reasonable. Most gachas pity at ten full pulls to give you the character or item on the banner. Echoes of Mana expects you to do 20 full pulls to get one of the characters or items on the banner. With multiple characters and equipment on the banner, it is almost impossible to get what you want if you are unlucky.
I experienced this firsthand with the Black Pearl and Hawkeye banner that was just released. I saved a good 85% of the gems from the start of the game because Black Pearl and Hawkeye are two of my favorite Mana characters, and thus my folly began. I did 15 full pulls and used up all the free gems the game currently offers, as I have cleared all the content, and got zero of the four-star characters and items. I didn’t even get an off-banner four-star. I just got none of them. To make the sting worse, I still would have to pull five more times at 2700 gems per try to get even one, which isn’t likely to happen by the time this banner ends unless I pay real money. And even then, I would have only one of six copies needed to make the character better, and I would have to choose between Hawkeye and Black Pearl. It has pretty much killed my desire to continue the game knowing this will likely happen again in the future. If you want player bases to stick around, they need to feel as if they have a shot at getting characters or items without spending money to do so.
There is a silver lining to the pity points you acquire. If you never get to use your points, you can apply them to a global pity system called the Rabite Shop. However, this is the third issue with the Echoes of Mana gacha system. The global pity system expects you to have 500 Rabite points for one choice of character. So, 50 full pulls before you even get one. That’s a lot of pulls for just one copy of a character, and aside from the 500 points for one character, the Rabite Shop has a ton of junk added that is easily available in-game by playing. If you have been lucky and don’t need the pity pulls, the rest of the shop is practically a waste. It is a waste of a good thing and another ridiculous slog for something you may want.
All this wouldn’t be so bad if the number of gems you get from the game allowed you to enjoy it. That just isn’t the case and leads to the last issue with Echoes of Mana‘s gacha system. Outside the honeymoon phase of gems, there is a tiny trickle of gems you get each day. That’s about it. It’s enough to maybe get around 4500 gems a month and do approximately two full pulls, which is nowhere near enough to get a pity character on a banner. With the Rabite Shop, you can then expect up to ten months to get one pity character. It’s the icing on the cake of this horrid gacha system. And though the game has received updates to its gacha mechanics since its release, the overall issues still remain.
The gacha isn’t the only thing wrong with Echoes of Mana. It has a multitude of other issues, such as numerous and long load times for changing to every menu and map, a gear system designed to waste time to get the stat rolls you so desire, and a control system for an action game that is flat-out terrible. You can mistakenly hit regular attacks unless you precisely hit the tiny skill buttons on the screen or accidentally evade the wrong direction. It’s almost infuriating when you need to avoid attacks. It also has a split stamina system that requires you to waste serious amounts of the precious blue stamina on the absurd requirements for each training stage. Alongside this, there’s gameplay with bosses sporting un-dodgeable attacks that straight-up kill you if you don’t have the means to survive yet. This is likely to be abused as paywalls in future content to force you to spend money.
If you’re considering playing with others, there is forced and broken co-op for certain events and stages, and rampant cheating in ranking events. Lastly, a severe lack of content in the game can be seen as a blessing and a curse depending on how much you enjoy wasting your time with one game. For me, that isn’t truly a negative since I only play when I have free time, but it certainly can be for many players who want to get the most out of the game.
All in all, this is just a disappointing game, and the Mana series doesn’t deserve to be brought down like that since it already has so many hit-or-miss games. Wright Flier Studios needs to rethink and retool this one and fast before the player base is gone and won’t come back. They only need to look at other Square Enix gacha games to see how to do it right, like Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, or even their own Another Eden. I can not recommend Echoes of Mana in its current form, but hopefully it can be fixed before it joins the graveyard of other dead gacha games.