Grandia - Review

A massive tale... perhaps too massive?

By: Jake Alley

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 5
   Music/Sound 3
   Originality 5
   Plot 10
   Localization 6
   Replay Value 2
   Visuals 3
   Difficulty Very Easy
   Time to Complete

60-80 hours



   Game Arts is unique among developers. Rather than setting their protagonists off on a quest to save the world, the hero in most of their titles is motivated simply by boredom. Set in a truly vast and diversely populated world, Grandia demonstrates just how far the theme of pure exploration can go.

   While the plot does eventually turn into the standard RPG affair of saving the world, throughout most of the game, the main character Justin has no motivation other than an intense desire to see the world and make a name for himself. While this is refreshingly different, it also makes for a somewhat slow paced experience. However, it also leaves plenty of time to thoroughly develop all the characters in the game. If nothing else, upon completing the game, the player is extremely familiar with each character's personality.

   Although most of the game is exploring what should be a vast breathtaking world, the graphics simply aren't up to the task of realizing it. Thanks to a fairly rough port from the Sega Saturn, the world of Grandia is composed of rough ugly quadrilateral-based polygons. Even compared to Playstation titles around the time Grandia was first released, the quality is extremely poor. The characters who populate this world however are well drawn sprites, so not everything in the game is an eyesore.

Icky quads
Steam filled town  

   While it may not be pretty, Grandia's world is an interesting place. The towns are simply huge, and filled with people, each of whom provide a large number of well translated tidbits of information. Unfortunately, all important text is accompanied by dubbing so irritating that many players find it necessary to turn off the sound. Even worse than this however are the phrases each character shouts constantly during combat. Muting out the annoying voices however deprives the player of hearing the game's music, which is really quite good.

   While Grandia is a very plot driven game, a large portion of it is still spent fighting. The fights themselves are reminiscent of Chrono Trigger. Monsters move around, complicating the casting of spells that hit all monsters in a small area. There is also a system similar to Square's Active Time Battle system, but with one important difference. When characters and monsters take damage, the delay before their next action is increased. This means that with proper timing, even bosses can be rendered helpless from a barrage of attacks. The experience system of Grandia however is more like that found in Secret of Mana. When a character attacks with a sword, their sword skill increases. When a character casts a fire spell, their fire skill increases. When these skill levels reach certain requirements, new spells and special attacks are learned. HP and MP also increase with these skill levels.

Crossing the ocean  

   As interesting as this skill system is, it has it's flaws. The more powerful a spell or attack is, the more it increases the associated skill. Therefore, once a certain point is reached, spells and special attacks snowball in effectiveness, increasing in damage much faster than the monsters can keep up. The end result is a game which is painfully easy. Further damaging the difficulty is the fact that all save points in the game restore all HP and MP.

   In addition to the lack of challenge, Grandia is also an extremely linear game. In fact, the only two side quests in the game feature large disclaimers, explaining the fact that they are completely optional. Other than these, the game follows a rigid unchanging path, leaving very little reason for a second play through.

   In summary, for anyone looking for a solid story, Grandia is an excellent game, with a solid eighty hours of exploration and character development. However, for anyone looking for a challenging, engrossing game, It's best to look elsewhere.

© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy