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GRANDIA HD Collection Review (PS4) – Two Classic RPGs That Should Have Gotten More Love

GRANDIA HD Collection PS4 Review – The Grandia franchise may not be as well known as many classic RPGs, but it holds a special place in my heart. Getting to experience these two classic titles on modern-day consoles should be a dream come true. In a way, that’s precisely what it is, but on the other hand, it should have gotten a little more love than it did with this collection.

GRANDIA HD Collection PS4 Review

Grand Stories With Fantastic Writing And Characters

Both Grandia games tell an incredible story. Though they aren’t connected, both bring much love to their narrative. The first Grandia is a pure adventure story that sees Justin and Sue embark from their home to become adventurers. The narrative doesn’t do anything special, but it’s executed well and has solid character development and writing.

Grandia 2, however, tells a more religious story about good and evil. In it, Ryudo travels with priestess Elena to rid her of the demon Valmar, whose wings have possessed her. Grandia 2 also features one of the most shocking story moments in RPG history that many people have never experienced.

Though the writing in Grandia 2 is just as excellent as in the first game, it suffers from translation issues. The HD remaster of Grandia 2 is also based on the Dreamcast version rather than the PS2 version. This is an important point to make as the PS2 version features almost forty minutes of extra CG cutscenes not included in the HD Remaster.

Exploration Feels Dated By Today’s Standards

Both games feature an isometric camera that can be rotated. It’s not revolutionary, but it was something that not many RPGs did on the original PlayStation. The rotating camera hides paths and items behind terrain and homes.

Neither game has a world map. Instead, you are presented with the option of selecting a location on a map you want to visit and exploring, whether it’s a dungeon or an open area used to transition to another location.

Enemies also appear in real-time, another unique aspect of Grandia on the PS1. If you can sneak up on them, you’ll gain the advantage in battle, but if they managed to get the drop on you, then you’ll find yourself at a disadvantage.

Fun Combat That Still Feels Unique Today

Combat in the Grandia franchise is another high point. Though it seems like a simple turn-based RPG, it features some unique aspects. Your turn order is shown off on a slider, so you know who’s turn is coming up, along with your enemies.

Each character attacks at least two times with combo attacks, which you utilize as your normal attack. If an enemy is about to strike anyone in your party and your attack lands before theirs, it counters the attack, doing critical damage and, at times, can cancel its attack.

This works both ways; enemies can do the same to your party. Pulling off skill attacks or magic attacks takes time. That means the party member slows down on the slider, giving enemies a chance to stop the spell or skill. This, again, works in your favor as well. You can select a different option called Critical Attack.

You can use this attack as you wish and constantly land a critical strike, but its best use is to cancel an enemy attack. This also pushes their turn back on the slider, allowing your other party members a chance to attack.

Leveling Up Skills And Magic Requires A Lot Of Grinding

Grandia features a unique upgrade and leveling system. Though you gain EXP to level up, you also earn points for the various weapons you use. Justin uses swords, batons, and axes. At the same time, Sue can utilize long-range weapons. You gain weapon points with every attack you land.

This is important because it increases your party’s specific stats, like attack power, and is used to unlock and learn new skills. Justin, for example, needs his sword skills to be at level 7 and his axe skill at level 4 to unlock a new skill.

Magic works the same way, forcing you to constantly cast spells to learn new spells as you level up the specific elemental spell you use. This can cause problems as you’re harder-hitting party members, who can gain levels faster as they take out enemies before the rest of the party can attack.

Since magic also takes time to cast, you’ll be forced to defend with party members rather than attacking to provide ample time to attack with a spell.

Grandia 2 Is A More Modern Title Than Its Predecessor

Grandia 2’s combat remains virtually unchanged from the first game but removes the first game’s leveling system and provides a different, though still unique, way of unlocking new skills and magic. Every battle won provides Skill Coins and Magic Coins. These Coins unlock new skills and magic but also level them up.

These coins are shared among the party, so you’ll have to figure out what skills you need to unlock and who should unlock the next spell. This can become a problem because it will require much grinding to gain enough Coins to unlock everything for each party member.

Though the games hold up surprisingly well from a story and gameplay perspective, it suffers from its actual remaster. While the textures have received some solid improvements, it suffers by showing off the textiles on which they are placed. Lines in the textures are revealed and easily spotted, with a small gap from one texture on the floor to another.

No Quality Of Life Upgrades

The cutscenes in Grandia are upscaled, and though the animated scenes look decent, they are a bit blurry. The voice track is also very quiet and hard to hear.

Grandia 2, however, suffers from horribly upscaled CG cutscenes that look worse than a PS1 CG cutscene. They are highly pixelated and look like they’re running at 320p. The character portraits and dialogue text are also pixelated, and it doesn’t seem like it has been upgraded in any way from the Dreamcast version.

Some people will find the biggest offender is the absolute lack of quality-of-life features. The only real upgrade both of these games received was in the visual department. There aren’t any other improvements you would usually associate with modern remasters of this kind, such as a save anywhere function or the ability to speed up battles.

These weren’t issues for me, but they can be a drag for those wanting to start another game but having to go through an entire dungeon to save your progress.

I wish more love went into this collection, but it’s still worth experiencing. Both Grandia titles have lasted the test of time with great gameplay, writing, and stories to tell. They may not be the best versions of the games, but this may be the only way to experience these two classic titles.

Grandia HD Collection is now available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 via backwards compatibility, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Review code kindly provided by PR.



The Final Word

The GRANDIA HD Collection is the only way to experience these two great titles on modern platforms. Both Grandia and Grandia 2 stand the test of time with great writing and characters and a unique combat and skill upgrade system. It's just a shame that not enough was done to provide quality-of-life upgrades. The only real updates these games have received are game visuals and widescreen support.