Granblue Fantasy: Versus takes a step beyond just a fighting game, but an astounding adventure in RPG fashion using both fighting and RPG mechanics to bring the game to life. Now, we have to ask, is this a powerful contender in the fighting genre or is this one to walk away from? Let’s find out.
+Extremely well-designed graphics and character animations
+Gameplay is easy to learn, hard to master
+The RPG mode is welcoming and offers plenty of chances to learn the game
+The story is actually quite enjoyable
-Online fighting can lead to some extremely laggy matches as it sometimes feels peer-to-peer versus dedicated servers
-Season Pass characters can be a bit offputting to fans
Earlier last month, I began to play quite a bit of Granblue Fantasy: Versus with my six-year-old nephew. We’ve thrown down a few good matches, having a few small laughs along the way as he madly mashed at every button he could, using his tiny thumbs to rapidly swipe across the D-Pad, launching over-the-top anime-style attacks if they connected, hurtling my character across the screen in punishing fashion.
For us, it was a grand time, both of us laughing without a care in the world as we entered lockdown for the safety of our health. Those memories are some you can’t create often, which is where Arc System Works and Cygames come into play, bringing the once mobile and browser-based series, Granblue Fantasy, to life as an all-new title, one that expands upon a well-established world.
One where Gran, Rackam and their pals of the Grandcyper attempt to investigate the mystery of how the Erste Empire somehow returned to full power following their prior defeat in both the anime and the aforementioned title. But to do that, my nephew had to set his controller aside, lips curled into a pout as I took on the unique RPG mode that accompanied this over-the-top fighting game.
Granblue Fantasy Versus is one part fighter one part RPG and both have been mashed together
At its core, Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a genuinely enjoyable 2D fighter, one that goes over the top in every aspect that it can but within reason. It’s a game that uses those 2D fighter elements, much like Dragon’s Crown to bring a unique RPG experience to life using sidescrolling and fighting elements.
The RPG mode comes in the form of a fully-voiced visual novel vignette that comes to life through the mode’s various missions, each having players take on the role of Gran and company. The game itself, believe it or not, will throw a lot of information out, building up as much lore as it can, taking time to generously explain each and every piece of information, giving us a sense of depth to this massive world.
Unlike the anime or the mobile game, however, Granblue Fantasy: Versus was designed with this in mind, offering players an in-depth Glossary to navigate in order to further understand the events unfolding right before them. Except, you’ll take note of something you won’t see in other games such as this: They also explain fighting game terminology that will help newcomers to the genre understand it a little better.
Once you progress far enough, you’ll find even more depth gets added in overtime. You can take the RPG mode online, teaming up with a friend or even locally with someone, such as I did with my nephew. It ups the ante, forcing you to think on your toes while you and your partner fight through as many enemies as you can, both of you unleashing magnificent abilities and combos along the way.
Since Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a fighter at its core, expect it to play like one, which is brilliant
Unlike other fighters in the genre, namely Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, you aren’t going to be just bouncing around from scene to scene, watching cutscene after cutscene before diving back in. Rather, Arc System Works and Cygames knew what they were getting into when designing a 2D fighter that would take advantage of having an RPG mode.
As previously stated, you can expect the RPG mode to act as a tutorial, giving you a chance to learn both basic and advanced techniques ranging from combo attacks to unleashing special moves by chaining them into each and every attack you make. In the opening minutes, you’ll find that you’ll learn how to attack, learning both high and low attacks, how to unleash abilities, how to chain them and even how to block, dodge, and dash.
Since these are common features in the game, it was nice to see a few new elements added in, exclusively to the RPG mode itself. You’ll end up using items, allowing Gran to become a bit more of a capable fighter than he was when you initially started. You’ll find his stats to change, different weapons offering different capabilities in and out of combat, but also, your skill level getting higher with each and every encounter.
Moving from RPG Mode to Arcade or Online modes is well-advised and it lets you learn even more
One of the things that can be taken away from Arc System Works’ previous games is rather clear: They know how to design a game such as this in a detailed fashion. You’ll find that every character is unique, not a single one plays, acts, or functions exactly the same when using the base game itself.
Out of all the characters, we came to enjoy fighters such as Gran, Ferry and Metera, each of them playing quite the opposite as the other. While the initial eleven fighters are a blast, there already are four more available for those that opt to dish out a little extra money for the first Character Pack, allowing them to obtain fighters such as Beelzebub, Djeeta, Narmaya, and Soriz.
Online fights in Granblue Fantasy: Versus do take a hit due to some players having shoddy connections
When it comes to fighting games: I have had a minor issue with the servers from time to time in the past month that I’ve played Granblue Fantasy: Versus. I’ve spent quite a bit of time online, bouncing from match to match in both ranked and non-ranked play, enjoying my time against those that I could.
Sometimes, I found the matches to be of the best quality, even better than some of the AAA games I’ve played in recent days (here’s to looking at you Mortal Kombat 11). Outside of what you would expect, there will be minimal lag if you have the patience, bouncing between challengers the game tosses your way, giving you a chance to play against players of equal, lesser, and sometimes, considerably greater skill.
For me, that’s where Metera came into play, balancing out the others that I fought against. There were times where I’d go up against another player, both of us opting to bounce into another match against one another. This isn’t uncommon as Granblue Fantasy: Versus does see fans taking on one another as many times as they can in both ranked and unranked matches.
Whether it’s online or off, Granblue Fantasy: Versus has a lot to offer from an amazingly well-written story to solid fighting game mechanics that somehow work rather well in an RPG mode. Aside from a pricey entry point for the first season of DLC fighters that released shortly after the official launch of the game. While discouraging to some, it’s still a worthwhile experience, one that brings in dozens of hours of gameplay for dedicated fans.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus
Platforms: PC and PlayStation 4
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Cygames, Arc System Works
Publisher: XSeed Games
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $59.99 (Standard) | $79.99 (Deluxe)
For those longing to pass time, this game will do it and it offers quite a bit of replayability for those looking for both online and offline options. The best part of it all is the thing that seems to be the least mentioned route: Local multiplayer options. It’s fun and it does give the game an extra lifeline for those wanting to have something to play with their friends.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!