Grandia HD Collection Review - Another Classic Returns 34534

Grandia HD Collection Review – Another Classic Returns

PlayStation One was something of a renaissance for RPGs. Around that time a number of classic series released, beloved experiences found new life, and technology ushered in untold possibilities. It was a crazy time to be alive, one that still stands out to this day. Among the highlights was the unexpected hit, Grandia. The fantastic story, traditional values, and charming experience is one that continues to resonate in players. With ample time passing, GungHo Online decided to finally release Grandia HD Collection on consoles. Containing the first two adventures, is it a must for players, or has its time passed?

Grandia HD Collection starts with the initial experience, Grandia. This journey starts by introducing Justin, a young kid who dreams of adventure, and his friend Sue, in the unassuming town of Parm. After playing games with his local friends, and being regaled by stories of his now missing father, he sets forth into the wider world and comes across a mysterious object known as a Spirit Stone. Justin learns there is more to this relic, setting forth on an adventure to see where this will take him.

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That ’90s Charm

Despite the slow introduction, Grandia ultimately builds to a fascinating narrative filled with twists, and turns as they attempt to stop the world from ending. While this type of plot isn’t quite as original as it was, it’s ultimately the smaller things that stand out more today.

These are things like world building, character interactions, the type of dialogue, to even the humor itself. It’s so emblematic of ’90s culture that it leaves a comforting feeling. It’s simply different from modern experiences, and even if it didn’t age perfectly, it’s hard not to be charmed by the wide cast of distinct characters.

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Even if narrative is strong, it’s everything else that kind of falls behind. Despite being an HD collection, it still has a lot in common with the original experience. Load times aren’t great, graphics look extremely dated, camera is janky, to even motion giving me a headache at times.

I understand certain things will simply not age well, such as the animated scenes, but it’s basically just the original experience upscaled for modern televisions. Where this is most evident is the dialogue itself.

Every statement needs to reach its actual conclusion before players can progress. This can be annoying if you’re a fast reader, or the voices take a particularly long time to play out. Not to mention accidentally reengaging with someone, and having to listen to their dialogue loop again.

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There are a number of other examples, like being limited to fixed save points, that are unfortunate to see. A couple quality of life changes would go really far, especially given how rough some of the other aspects are. That being said, the turn based combat remains quite enjoyable.

In the sequel, Grandia II, players control Ryudo, a young mercenary that accepts a job from a mysterious client that ends up being more than he expected. Like the first adventure, this is a deep and robust experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It also concludes with a climatic reveal that is sure to keep players entertained.

In the grand scheme of things a lot of the initial criticism applies to Grandia II as well. It’s essentially an HD port of the original title, though it benefits greatly from being a Dreamcast/PlayStation 2 release

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Dangerous Spiders

For this reason the graphics look better, camera is a lot smoother, and the overall gameplay experience is much better. It also handles the introduction a bit better, opting from a slow narrative in a small town, to transversing a treacherous forest. Many players will also appreciate the better flow, as less experienced players might need a guide to overcome the original experience.

While this is still a turn based RPG, a lot of the charm of the time is present. It’s nothing revolutionary by today’s standards, though there is enough going on to keep players engaged. Something that builds to a much greater experience as the danger increases.

Grandia HD Collection Review Verdict

Grandia HD Collection: Grandia HD Collection is in a rather rough place. While the original experiences are classics, this collection is essentially the same games with a slightly fresher coat of paint. For some this will be enough, as the amazing narratives persist, though I fear the choice will limit its appeal. Even some of the more basic expected quality of life choices, such as save anywhere, are not present, and for this reason it's one of those experiences that will either blow you away, or leave you underwhelmed. Mark

von 10

Editor’s Note: Grandia HD Collection was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.

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