Granblue Fantasy: Versus Review – Approachable and Beautiful

    Title: Granblue Fantasy: Versus
    Developer: Cygames, Arc System Works
    Release Date: March 3, 2020
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: XSEED Games
    Genre: Fighter

When it comes to anime fighters, the hardcore fighting game community seems to pick them up for their fast-paced action and intricate combo variety. However, developer Arc System Works’ approach to Granblue Fantasy: Versus seems more like an attempt to include casual fans of the franchise while creating a unique fighting game experience, unlike one you’d find out today. In a sea of other fighters, Granblue Fantasy: Versus manages to stand out in several areas with its systems. However, the RPG mode leaves much to be desired.

Granblue Fantasy: Versus brings the Granblue Fantasy world to console. Based on the popular gacha mobile game and anime series, you’ll find yourself on a brand new adventure starring a roster of 11 characters. The size of the roster is a real issue at first, but after a few hours of gameplay, each of the character’s unique skillset stands out, and I didn’t mind the slim pickings.

By design, it seems that the battle system is kept simple and straight forward. Attacks are tied to light, medium, and heavy attacks, along with a special attack. Connecting an attack begins an auto combo that follows up with consecutive hits. This alleviates any pressure off the player to remember complicated combinations, which actually works out quite well. Furthermore, skilled players will be able to respond to these attacks by using the handful of abilities each character has.

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Each ability is tied to R1 and must be combined with the attack actions. When used, the abilities need to recharge, but it all happens rather quickly. Learning how to connect these attacks is rather simple as there aren’t too many elements of infinite combos, although you can get the number pretty high. If you’ve never touched a fighting game before, it’s possible to pick this one up and find comfort knowing that the learning curve for this game is surprisingly low.

I will say that the tutorial is refreshing to play through. It takes its time showing you each of the character’s attacks, which pretty much work the same for every character. This also includes how to properly block and dodge enemy attacks, along with showing you how to pull off higher attack combinations.

There were some characters that I enjoyed more than others, but I should mention that Granblue Fantasy: Versus is kind of slow. During fights, you’ll have to react and respond to enemy attacks and combos. Knowing each character’s move set will also benefit you as some characters match up better with others. Whether you’re a mid-ranged fighter or like to keep things up close and personal, multiple characters will fit your playstyle. If you’re used to the speed of Dragon Ball FighterZ, well, you won’t find that here, but this doesn’t hurt Granblue Fantasy: Versus’ appeal.

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Where Granblue Fantasy: Versus struggles is found in its RPG mode, which doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. There are gacha elements tied in with beat ’em up and visual novel storytelling. This mish-mash of genres takes players through the game’s story, where some of the characters have lost their memory due to a powerful dark force.

After the first set of missions is cleared, you’ll have played everything that this RPG mode has to offer. The mode also has gacha elements tied to its weapons where players can upgrade and manage elemental damage, but this doesn’t really need to be touched until the last few boss battles who are attack sponges that will run down your time unless you hit hard enough.

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The RPG mode will take about an evening to get through while you add more characters to your roster and get to the bottom of all the terrible events happening around the world. Each mission is the same as you drop in and have to fight off a few waves of enemies.

This goes on and on until the very last boss. Luckily for those playing, the boss battles are unique and require some thought to get through them alive. Still, the level of control that they need you to have to dodge special attacks is asking a bit much considering these characters move so slow. After you complete the story, you unlock harder difficulties and must play through the same missions again.

What’s kind of cool is that you can play with a friend if you want. Each mission allows a CPU or 2nd player to join the battle. This makes the fights go by quicker and is just a fun way to kill a bit of time. This mode is also available online.

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What’s best about Granblue Fantasy: Versus is that RPG mode is not the only thing this game has to offer. The Arcade and online ranked mode quickly show you everything this game does great. Mechanically, there is a little for everyone here. A fighting system that is simple to learn means you’re in for some difficult matches coming your way. The game opens the door for anyone looking to step into the anime fighting community, and you find a game that does it better than this.

Granblue Fantasy: Versus is gorgeous. Character designs and animations mimic their anime-style designs perfectly. This level of detail transcends into its stages, which change if a match goes to a third round. Each attack and ability look amazing, and the quality only improves based on the love and care that the developer spent implementing these characters into the game.

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Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a fighter that stands out in a sea of other anime-fighters with its approach to simplistic design. Fans of the mobile series will find it easily approachable while fighting game enthusiasts will do their best to learn how to read enemy attacks and respond accordingly.

Granblue Fantasy: Versus strikes, a perfect balance within its systems, and it makes for hours of exciting matches. The RPG mode is something to go through once and probably forget about, but that’s okay because Arcade and ranked online matches will be there for you time and time again.

Score:
8/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.