The 2 Grandest of Adventures

The Grandia HD Collection features two classic adventures from the Grandia series, both Grandia and Grandia II. Grandia originally released for the Saturn and PS1 and Grandia II originally released for the Dreamcast and PS2 have since saw a remastered release on Switch and Steam but now the PlayStation 4 has finally seen a rerelease of the remastered version of these two timeless classics thanks to a lot of requests from the community and GungHo Online Entertainment making it happen.


The first Grandia game is somewhat of a big deal. During the era when the game released Final Fantasy was huge so you could be forgiven for passing up or not knowing about Grandia. Although lesser known, Grandia became a huge hit becoming every bit as important as Final Fantasy VII and VIII which were both the games flagship rivals at the time.

Grandia tells the story of Justin who dreams of adventure and wishes to follow in his fathers footsteps. After visiting a local dig site where the rival Garlyle forces are undertaking the excavation of the ruins, Justin finds out there is a lost civilization and plans to adventure far and wide to follow in his fathers footsteps and learn more about the civilization.

What makes Grandia great is the tone of the story and the unique and original gameplay that sets it apart from other big hitter JRPG’s at the time of release. Justin is a young boy who appears childish at first grows throughout the adventure and becomes likeable. Equally the Garlyle forces who Justin races against in this grand adventure appear as the antagonist militia group are not bloodthirsty evil villains although they try to stop Justin at every opportunity. Seeing Justin outwit a whole army at regular intervals never gets old. Along the way Justin meets new friends and allies and the scope of the adventure becomes ever more apparent, the way Justin bonds and becomes who he is throughout the adventure is what really makes the adventure worthwhile. What really amazed me is this was the first JRPG I played that had voice acting. It was not fully voiced but all the key story segments that had them were much more enjoyable. While arguably it isn’t the strongest it adds to the charm that Grandia has.

Gameplay consists of 2D animated sprites on three-dimensional maps. The Camera is completely and fully rotational and is required to fully navigate the world. Whilst exploring towns you can speak to people, buy new weapons and items and learn new magic. NPC’s don’t just say a few words, more often than not they have a few things to say with dialogue changing the next time you see them after certain events have happened. When you are not exploring the towns you will be exploring dungeons, there are no random encounter and enemies can be seen on the map, they will flash red if they see you. If you approach from behind you can get the Initiative on them however they can do the same to you. Battles are really where Grandia is unique. Battles are from a third-person perspective and an IP bar is shown at the bottom right of the screen. When a character reaches the command section of this bar they are able to attack, likewise so are enemies, when it reaches the end is when attacks are utilized meaning if an enemy is slow to act you can delay and enemies attacks or cancel them altogether, however it is good to be aware that they have the same advantage over the players. It’s a fantastic system and even in battles where enemies have the initiative it’s still possible to come away from a battle unscathed.

Battles award money, experience and items, and skill point depending on the weapon or skill elements used. By increasing your skills you can learn new moves and magic. Whilst magic anyone can learn certain elements of magic will play a unique part in some of the characters main attack skills which are unique to each character. The combat is fun and engaging although a little on the easy side. Although characters do increase in stats and levels this doesn’t happen often, it just happens gradually as you progress the game, most of the stat increases will be through the use of magic and skills and by levelling these up you can increase your stats. By finding rare mana eggs you can learn new magic elements for your characters. There are some areas in the game that you can grind and even take advantage of easy skill level ups but grinding isn’t necessary in Grandia. The game is about micromanaging your small inventory as you can only carry 12 items per character so having a few healing items can be important but also dungeons will also award a lot of new items also so it’s a good idea to keep your pockets relatively empty before going into a long dungeon.

Grandia is a rich story game that does not have a lot in terms of optional side quests and content. It does have 3 optional dungeons which is about collecting rare loot and more experience but other than that it is a story driven game but one that is still hefty at over 40 hours.

Grandia II

Grandia II is the sequel to the first Grandia and features a completely new story, cast of characters and gameplay elements. The game has a more mature feel than the first Grandia that focuses on the story of light and darkness and death is more of a common occurrence in the game.

Ryudo is much more of a dark character than Justin. He is a mercenary of sorts taking on odd jobs with his bird companion Skye. Ryudo is known as a Geohound and does any job he is given regardless of morals, meaning he is not well received by many of the people he comes across. Ryudo receives a new job where is tasked with escorting Elena a songstress to perform a ceremony at the top of a tower, after Elena and her friends are attacked in the tower, Ryudo becomes involved in a journey to defeat the darkness Valmar which threatens the very world.

Gameplay remains largely the same as the first Grandia although the graphics are largely improved this time around. The main difference is that mana eggs are now an equip-able item and they give certain magics to that character. Battles award two types of new currency which are used for increasing the skill level and potency of magic and skills and rather than using skills endlessly this is negated just by grinding enemies instead.

Grandia HD Collection is essentially the first 2 Grandia games remastered, much like the Switch and Steam versions just now on PS4, both games have trophy support and anyone confused about if there is a PS5 version, this is it, the game can be played on PS5 but there is no separate trophy list for PS5. There are no extra quality of life features added into these games but I think that is a very good decision. Completing both games can take between 70-80 hours to finish in total, I never saw much sense in a speed boost or any kind of save anywhere/power boosters as these games are insanely easy as it is and these options would negate the fun from them. Grandia 2 does have a hard mode for those looking for a challenge.

Graphically both games hold up well, The smoothed out character models on pre-rendered backgrounds and general aesthetics of the game mean it’s aged far better. The music also really shines amongst both games. The original Grandia still remains one of my favourite JRPG’s and this is due to the stellar soundtrack, unique gameplay and a loveable cast of characters with the most heartwarming story ever seen in a video game, there were no complex story arcs, just good solid game that knew it’s own identity. There was even a concert showcasing the fantastic music of Grandia in Boston’s Symphony Hall in America in the year 2012 which just goes to show the legacy that the games soundtrack still lives on today.

Does the cost justify a decades old series of games. That depends. If you own the collection already on Switch or Steam I could not recommend it. I’d say yes in the case if you have played these games previously on the older consoles but were looking to come back to give them a try or if you’ve never played a Grandia game before. You could do a lot worse for your money.

A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by GungHo Online Etertainment America