Grandia (PSX) Review

Click here if you wish to visit the Grandia description page for screenshots and more information.

Review by tankMage (July 2015)

Score: B

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Grandia did not impress me much initially, but over time it has grown on me despite its flaws. Before we get to why I like Grandia, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. Here is a quick breakdown of the aspects of Grandia that drag the game down:

  • Easy combat- by easy, I mean pathetically easy. A seasoned RPG player will breeze through the majority of the game without much grinding. Of course, Grandia’s lack of difficulty makes it highly accessible to novice RPG players and I would recommend this game as a first RPG.
  • Terrible inventory system- Game Arts chose to limit how much each character can carry for some reason. As a result you are forced to use storage spaces at inns and some save points to stash extra gear. To make matters worse the interface is clunky and the process of storing and withdrawing items can be tedious.
  • Repetitive enemies- lots of palette swaps and overall uninspired monsters (unless you find ghosts and spiders novel).
  • Cliche story- this game’s plot is not all that original. However it was very nicely executed, but I’ll get to that later.
  • Some minor bugs- since in-battle character movement is controlled by the game’s logic, there will be a few instances where a character fails to attack a monster due to buggy pathing. There are also spots where the player can get stuck in towns and dungeons, but these are rare.
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Even Justin’s friend, Sue, hates the inventory system.

    So now that the bad stuff is out of the way, I’ll talk about what makes this game worthy of a “B”. First of all, Grandia looks and sounds good. Game Arts wisely chose to represent NPCs, playable characters, and monsters with good old fashioned 2D sprites (let’s face it, most human character models on the PS1 look like Lego people). The developers made another smart choice by using the PS1’s ability to generate polygons and 3D environments to create towns and dungeons. The result is a vibrant world that pops out at the player and an RPG that has aged much better than some of it’s contemporaries in terms of aesthetics *cough* Final Fantasy VII *cough*. The soundtrack for this game is also well done and features a wide variety of songs; just be warned that some of the tunes are cheesy. Even the voice acting in Grandia is fairly decent, albeit stiff and amateurish compared to more modern games. 

Another awesome feature of Grandia is it’s optional dungeons. Remember when I said the game is too easy?  The devs must have been aware of this and added a few challenge dungeons. While these dungeons still aren’t super tough, players will need to prepare a bit for them and use strategy to win the boss fights. Ironically, the challenge dungeons reward players with weapons that make the regular game a joke.

Grandia’s most endearing feature is its story. I know, I know, I said the story was cliche earlier and it is, but the cast really makes Grandia shine and breathed life into an otherwise dull plot. Justin, Feena, and Sue are three of the most likable characters I have ever encountered in a video game. They possess a combination of humor, humanity, and enthusiasm that is rare in many RPGs. You won’t find the usual edgy, maudlin story lines and personalities that have become so common in video games here. Instead, you will be greeted with an adventure that is simple and filled with a contagious spirit of optimism. Grandia even managed to pull off a few poignant and memorable moments in its story.

Final Thoughts

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    Admittedly, I wrestled with Grandia’s score for some time. On one hand, I found the game fun. On the other hand I was somewhat disappointed by it’s lack of difficulty and some rather amateurish design flaws on the dev’s part. Ultimately it was Grandia’s overall presentation that convinced me to give it a “B”. Every piece of Grandia comes together to form something special and rare: a game that I can look back at and think of fondly.

Recommendations

Grandia is a great introductory RPG. If you have no experience with the genre and are looking for a game that will allow you to learn the ropes, then this title is a great choice. I also recommend this to veterans that are in search of an easy, but entertaining game to sit back and relax with.

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