Like A Bolt From The Blue
Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a fighting game spun off from the popular Japanese mobile and browser-based game Granblue Fantasy. Jumping into this, I’d never played the original game, so Versus is my first exposure to the franchise, as it will be for many people outside of Japan. But, with a cute mascot and Arc System Works as a developer, there was more than enough to pull me in and grab my attention.
Luckily, for first time players, the game does a pretty good job of catching you up to speed with who’s who, and is apparently in an alternate timeline from the main game, though it does maintain several similarities of course. Protagonist Gran is able to catch you up on the basics early on in the story, so there was no wading through two hours of gameplay before learning anyone’s names.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus comes with four different game modes: RPG, Versus, Arcade and Training. RPG is where you have the story and characters and all that fun stuff. Versus is for playing battles either against a second user or CPU, and being able to change up characters, color schemes, arenas and more at the end of every match played to best 2 out of 3. Arcade mode lets you pick a character to start with and then sends you through a gauntlet of battles against a CPU, letting you choose from three different difficulties at the end of every fight. Training, as the name belies, focuses on letting you test out characters and weapons styles without having to worry about losing a match. Trying to really nail that one special move? Training mode has got you covered.
RPG Mode is pretty standard for what’s expected from a fighting story game. There’s battles, and little bits of dialogue and plot progression in between battles, but the main focus is on the fighting. That being said, Granblue Fantasy provides enough interesting characters that RPG Mode integrates into the story that it’s rarely dull, even if I did keep forgetting names in between battles. Gran is the protagonist, with his trusty sidekick dragon-type creature Vyrn, but my personal favorite characters were ship’s captain Rackham, who’s always got his head screwed on right, and rogue soldier Katalina, whose betrayal of the main cast starts off the story.
RPG Mode does a good job of introducing you to the gameplay from the get-go, having you play through tutorials until you nail the moves properly, and separating types of combat so it doesn’t just throw you under all at once. Still, it’s a lot to take in, and the pause menu allows you to re-check controls, combos, and moves at any time that you need a refresher. The biggest drawback to RPG mode is that combat generally centers on Gran, who was my least favorite fighter in the game. His style doesn’t mesh well with how I usually play fighting games, though he’s set-up to be fairly standard if a bit slow as a fighter.
By contrast, Versus mode is where the game really shines, mainly for the reason that you can play as any character in any arena, against anyone. The game gives you the freedom to choose everything, including background music and weapon skins, letting you customize almost every aspect. Here is where I really hit my stride, as the roster of characters offers much more freedom of play styles. My favorite was Ferry, the whip-wielder and dead spirit communicator who suited my style of semi-Lancer combat perfectly. However, a close second was getting to play as Katalina, who focuses on defense and has a greater attack range than Gran, and an excellent counter.
For Versus and Arcade mode, there are 11 characters to choose from, and a randomizer option if you really can’t decide. There is also 5 characters planned as part of the first DLC pack, with two of these already released, so while the roster isn’t massive, there’s plenty of options for those, like me, whose fighting style clashes with Gran.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus also includes an online mode where you can play ranked matches, after first playing through several preliminary ranking rounds. Like with any online play, your experience depends on the availability of opponents and your internet connection, though the set-up is all easy to get into and just as much fun as Versus and Arcade modes.
What I found the most impressive, out of all the modes, was the game’s animation. It’s absolutely gorgeous, top-notch quality, both in battle and in the cutscenes with the anime-style designs. Even the recolors of the characters look fantastic, which I was a little surprised at, with recolors appearing in the intro and outro animation of battles as well as the battles themselves.
Overall, Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a fun game and considering it comes from Arc System Works that’s really not surprising. It’s easy enough to get into for those new to the franchise, but it does lack the same emotional pull. While the game doesn’t break any ground in the genre, if you’re looking for a good 2D/3D styled fighter, with gorgeous graphics, you have a solid choice here.
TechRaptor reviewed Granblue Fantasy: Versus on PC via Steam using a code provided by the publisher.
- Gorgeous Artwork and Animation
- Fun Fights and Play Styles
- Limited Character Roster
- No Real Genre Innovations