- Game: Granblue Fantasy: Versus
- Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), PC
- Publisher: Xseed Games
- Developer: Arc System Works
A Granblue Fantasy: Versus review code was provided by the publisher.
The Japan-exclusive mobile RPG series known as Granblue Fantasy is a massive property in its home country. Since 2014, fans have spent countless hours staring down at their phones engaging in turn-based battles backed by a gorgeous anime sheen. Cygames has chosen to try something different in its efforts to spread Granblue Fantasy to other regions – instead of making the mobile smash hit playable around the world, Cygames has chosen to get gamers into the fold with a spinoff release. And even more interesting is the fact that that release is an Arc System Works developed fighting game. Granblue Fantasy: Versus ends up being a great addition to the anime fighter sub-genre that acts as a gateway to the genre for incoming beginners.
Like everything Arc System Works is involved in regarding fighting games, Granblue Fantasy: Versus simply looks magnificent. What helps it stand apart from other anime titles of its ilk is its painterly art style that pays homage to its source material. Everything from the main menu right on down to the stages themselves, Granblue Fantasy: Versus exudes beauty. Even when it’s not in motion, this fighting game stands tall above its 2D contemporaries. The anime visuals are so good, they’ll even force you to sit through the dry dialogue scenes featured in the game’s RPG Mode. That’s pretty much a testament unto itself. The game’s audio is just as good – the sounds of blades clashing and even the post-battle victory theme are proof of its amazing quality. Granblue Fantasy: Versus is an elegant fighting game that’s also a pleasure to listen to.
Mechanically, Granblue Fantasy: Versus is not as complex as your usual anime fighter. Auto combos are a regular occurrence, plus each character’s special moves can be pulled off via incredibly easy command inputs. During your first few matches, you might come under the impression that its gameplay is a bit too beginner-friendly. But once you spend more time with it, its battle options become a bit deeper in practice. You can choose to rely on traditional special move inputs in order to have their usage meter refill faster, dodge and dash past your foes, pull off slick wall bounce combo strings, learn each character’s specialty gimmick, etc. Seeing as how each of the game’s launch roster members are all worth utilizing, mastering them all is an enjoyable endeavor.
While the game’s starting lineup of characters is fun enough, it’s quite disappointing to see that only 11 of them are available at first. For a fighting game in 2020, coming out of the gate with less than 15 characters is nonsensical. What’s not lacking in this game however is its tutorial options. Granblue Fantasy: Versus has one of the best learning experiences offered by a current-day fighter. It teaches the fundamentals of battle to gamers making their way into the genre, breaks down character matchups, shows you the best ways to implement special moves into your overall game, and learn all types of flashy combo strings. By the time you’re done learning everything there is to know about this fighter’s mechanics, you’ll be able to apply them to other fighting games. That speaks to how good this game’s tutorial mode is.
The rest of Granblue Fantasy: Versus’ package comes with other fighting game basics, such as an arcade mode, local/online competition, and a gallery jam-packed with art, cutscenes, and music. The mode that’s most integral to the experience is the RPG Mode, which is pretty much a simplified rendition of the mobile game’s mechanics. It acts as a beat ’em up that evokes memories of Dragon’s Crown – your missions usually involve surviving a horde of monsters or simply wiping out rooms of them before you take on a big boss. The boss fights are the most interesting of the bunch and are more interesting than the regular battles, which quickly grow repetitive and stale. Getting the option to play alongside an online buddy is fine and all, but the low challenge factor presented by the mode’s enemies don’t even make the act of punishing them worthwhile. RPG Mode’s implementation is commendable, but its uninspired plot and cannon fodder enemies make it feel like an afterthought.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus Takeaways
Arc System Works has produced another great anime fighter that does its job of bringing in beginner fighting game players and showcasing Granblue Fantasy to a larger player base. Its graphics are amazing, its orchestral soundtrack is pleasing on the ears, and its deceptively simple combat mechanics offers a limitless serving of entertainment. Learning the ins and outs of the game is more fun than it has any right to be thanks to its multitude of quality tutorial options. The main knocks against Granblue Fantasy: Versus is its low character count at launch and lackluster RPG Mode. But its main purpose as a quality fighting game works and offers another addictive experience that will surely improve over time.
Our Granblue Fantasy: Versus Review Score: 8.5 out of 10
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