GAME REVIEW | Taking The Fight To Estalucia In "Granblue Fantasy: Versus"
Granblue Fantasy may not have as vast of a universe as another certain franchise with “fantasy” in its title, but it does deliver a lot of great characters, stories, and exciting fights. So when it came time for Cygames to expand on its world by bringing it to the fighting stage, there was only one developer worth calling: Arc System Works (Dragon Ball FighterZ, Blazblue). The end result, Granblue Fantasy: Versus, is both pleasing on the eyes and fingers, bringing forth one of the most wonderful surprises to the fighting genre.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus plays host to a few modes for gamers to dive face-first into. As per usual, there are your versus and arcade modes, as well as the opportunity to face off online with combatants from all over the globe. However, unique to this title is the RPG Mode, which brings forth a story involving Gran and his crew traveling from island-to-island to defeat a new threat. This aspect of the game is filled with great storytelling, as well as a terrific English dub featuring some of Bang Zoom Entertainment’s finest voice actors.
Like most RPGs, players can level up their characters as the story progresses, giving them new powers and skills to better their chances on the playing field. Weapons can be strengthened, with the advantage of unlocking new levels if you have the proper items on hand. There’s a good dose of challenge to making sure you have a solid weapon of choice for each element, as players will need the right sword, axe, or whip to take down some of the bigger enemies. As such, it allows players to get accustomed to various tools of war instead of sticking to an all-around favorite.
However, despite its RPG elements and solid character & weapon upgrading system, I cannot help but feel like Granblue Fantasy: Versus’s gameplay can be somewhat repetitive. After the dialogue and story goes by, I found myself going through one level after another where I fought soldiers and monsters over and over again. Hacking and slashing through these enemies didn’t really amount to much of a challenge, not to mention its lack of level uniqueness leaving me not quite riveted by its action. Had it gone a more classic arcade beat-em-up route with more interactivity, it would’ve been a more exciting affair. Alas, it was not to be.
With that being said, players don’t come to a fighting game to experience an RPG; they come to kick ass! And that, readers, is what Granblue Fantasy: Versus does beautifully! Its anime-styled visuals give way to some gorgeous brawls, as Gran, Charlotta, Katalina, Ladiva, and the rest of the cast duke it out Samurai Shodown-styled. There are your punch and kick attacks, but the real fun is when you swing your weapon and cause a little blunt force trauma. Whether it’s Gran’s sword, Metera’s arrows, or — my personal fave — Ferry’s whip, the damage being wielded by these warriors is an impressive sight to behold.
The fights truly shine when you are able to unleash one of the two Skybound Art attacks in your moves list. These moments bring forth some truly gorgeous visuals that feel ripped out from the series’s anime adaptation. You don’t just watch these big attacks trample your opponent; you legit feel them! It’s here where the adrenaline reaches the ultimate high, giving way to a victory that’s practically been written in stone.
Its single-player experience delivers a grand dose of fun, be it practicing in Versus or going the classic Arcade route. The latter is where the game lets you fight at your own pace, letting players choose the difficulty depending on their personal skills. If you want to jump between the easier and harder modes per each fight, there will be no stopping you, giving way to an exciting and comfortable arcade experience. (With that being said: can Arc System Works stop escalating the difficulty in the final battle, especially those playing in beginner’s mode?!)
From a controller perspective, Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a beaut on the PlayStation 4. Rarely did I feel like I had to mash buttons to pull off big attacks, nor did I need my fingers to play Twister to unleash special abilities or specific maneuvers. Unleashing one hit after another felt like a breeze, even when going up against online players rather an the AI ones in Arcade Mode. With that being said, I did have some issues initiating a run/sprint with the left stick, making it hard to speed towards an opponent for a quick smack.
Despite there being a lot to offer gameplay-wise, I cannot help but feel like Granblue Fantasy: Versus lacks in choice fighters. Having only eleven core fighters in the game — with others coming via paid DLC — feels slightly shortchanged. In a world where the recent King of Fighters title had over 50 fighters to play as right at the get-go, it’s becoming very apparent that having very little combatants in a $60 fighting game is pretty much inexcusable. Here’s hoping Cygames and Arc System Works learns from this error in future installments.
- Eclectic fighting styles
- Beautiful visuals
- RPG Mode has great story, voice acting...
- ...but gameplay can be repetitive
- Not many fighters for current price tag
Granblue Fantasy works well as a fighter, thanks to its great mixture of weaponry styles and unique characters. While the RPG Mode can be a little tedious at times, it still delivers a great story with some superb voice-acting. On the whole, Granblue Fantasy: Versus is an outstanding fighting game, one that will certain take fans of the genre by surprise.
Now what’s it gonna take to convince Cygames to bring Uma Musume: Pretty Derby to the fighting ring?
Promotional consideration provided by Kaitlyn Hoyer of ONE PR Studio. Reviewed on the PlayStation 4.