Although graphics-wise it has aged about as well as most classic Playstation JRPGs such as Xenogears, Breath of Fire IV and FFVII, Grandia is a great fantasy adventure game that I had the pleasure to play through more than once during my gaming days and I have too much nostalgia for it to give it a reliable review (just warning you). However, there is something unique about it. There’s a scope and atmosphere of, dear I say, grandness of Grandia, the wide world to explore, hyped music and battle interactions making for a pretty decent frame for a story that is paced in a way to build up expectations and wonder.
The story is about amateur adventure, Justin, discovering the magic of a long dead civilization and an evil military group trying to use its magic for corrupt means, risking the resurrection of a monster that destroyed the long dead civilization in the first place. If this story seems generic for a fantasy JRPG, steam punk elements and all, just remember that this was released in the exact same year as FFVII, so it wasn’t the only one. Where I think Grandia shines the most is how it weaves the romance between Justin and Feena into the story for what I think is one of the best romances in games (or anything) I’ve seen.
Although it has a slow beginning, Grandia picks up once you set out on your adventure. Just to give an idea of what the game consists of, the main character, Justin, literally calls himself an ‘adventurer’. Safe to say there are many dungeons and settings to crawl through, many of them with very Indiana Jones feel with pretty or beige ruins. This is fine because the world building in Grandia with its different settings and cultures is superb. The battle system allows for players to choose what strategy and angle they attack from in a form of mixed turn-based and real time combat that actually feels natural.
One of my favorite things about the game is the magic and ability-learning system in which you buy a base spell or weapon which you train up in combination with other spells and weapons to make stronger spells and abilities that mixes other attributes together. In a way it did the combination of element/weapon mixing dichotomies long before Naruto and only two years short of another retro-game, Chrono Trigger. It also had ‘decent’ voice acting long before Final Fantasy even had it… well, decent by anime dubs standard.
Grandia was a great launching off point for what would essentially be an alright game series by Ubisoft. The characters are lovable, the gameplay is interactive, the skills and spell systems are intricate and engaging. Where I obvious can not be trusted on any of this because I’m so nostalgic for it, I would recommend not passing on this just because of its aged graphics and long-ass dungeon crawls. It’s worth it for the epic sense of adventure and heroism this game allows the player to experience though its charismatic characters.
Nostalgia Rank: 10/10