Granblue Fantasy Versus is coming west in March and it brings the iconic mobile RPG off mobile and onto consoles. Gamespace was lucky enough to get hands-on with the brand new RPG mode.
Developed by Arc System Works and coming to the PlayStation 4, Granblue Fantasy Versus’ jump up to a bigger screen might look like the sort of traditional 2.5D fighting game that Arc System Works is known for but you’d be mistaken. Instead of a cut and paste endeavor that throws a cluster of cool looking artwork in among some frantic versus action, the latest entry under the Granblue banner tries to bridge the gap from mobile to front room with a unique Granblue Fantasy Versus RPG mode.
The Returning Tale
Following Lyria and Gran, two characters that fans of the franchise will already be familiar with, the opening 30 minutes of this RPG mode takes fans through a multitude of streamlined mechanics that aren’t too far from the mobile Granblue adventure. While the first few scenarios of Versus make it clear that this owes a great deal to the heritage of the original game, it doesn’t shy away from the 2D fighting system that Arc System Works excels at. There’s a very carefully balanced mix that steps players through the fighting style of each side-scrolling instance, putting plenty of emphasis on the combo mechanics at the heart of the combat system.
As things progress the game quickly introduces blocking, dodges, and dashing. This provides a solid counterpoint to the combo systems that could otherwise lock players out of the action in other games like Dragonball Fighter Z. This is augmented by special skills that are dotted along the top of each character’s status bars, a stylized concept that provides a cool set of powerful moves that don’t just provide flexibility to each character but a nod to classic RPG combat.
This is, however, a story mode and the links to the RPG lineage of Granblue continue. Each combat encounter scrolls through waves of mobs, various varieties of difficulty, and culminates in a boss monster or two. These are essentially the game’s quests rewarding Gran with a series of drops and rewards for exploring each of the new areas of the world. Quests are spilt between side and main storylines, providing the ability to explore a range of floating areas of Granblue. These side quests aren’t exactly flavor text either. The item and weapon system expose several upgrades and elemental attunements that allow players to maximize the ability of their weapon when taking on opponents. For anybody that’s had to grind their way into Blackwing’s Lair, the systems will be very straightforward, involving some item upgrades and level unlocking. This is, however, a nice set of concessions to competitive players looking to dabble in the story without losing themselves in the grind.
The narrative elements of the story are very pleasingly put together. All too often games taking the jump off the small screen lose their identity or simply cut and shut the existing assets into a new platform. Granblue Versus Fantasy benefits form the experience of Arc. Games like Blazblue are assurance enough that the character design and movement feel authentic without looking out of place in a high def environment. Ambient character movement, lip-synch, and the same voice actors that fans will have gotten to know in the recent Granblue anime are even present. Overall the console interpretation of Granblue Fantasy is just a wonderful retelling of the small screen title with a whole new set of twists, power-ups, and detail that has far more depth than Cross tag Battle or Smash Bros brings to the table.
Granblue Fantasy Versus is coming to Playstation 4 on 3 March. For more detail check out the official website now and have a look at my fist 30 minutes in the sky world.