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Friday, April 1, 2022

The Granstream Saga

Quintet never really got their footing back after Terranigma was passed up for a North American release; they hung on for a few more years, taking another crack or two at the RPG limelight, but eventually gave way to making mediocre budget titles before fading into obscurity.  Granstream Saga was an admirable attempt to bring their usual style of grim-themed RPGs to a new generation, but it struggled to make headway among other juggernauts of the time (most particularly Final Fantasy VII, released the year prior).  This probably wasn't helped by its overall restricted design -  the game is almost entirely linear with no chance to deviate from the set story path (even level gains are all pre-scripted events) and the combat is focused entirely on one-on-one duels, so it lacks the epic scale of other contemporary RPGs. Somehow it feels both high-budget and low-budget at the same time, with a lot of high-quality animated cutscenes, well-rendered environments and decent VO for the time, though the 3D animation is rather stiff in comparison and a lot of elements are depicted only through text rather than as onscreen events.  However, the story is still a captivating one despite its oft-repeated premise and its writing still strikes a lot of chords on an emotional level, so the Quintet hallmarks are intact.  It also definitely recognizes its own shortcomings, providing a relatively short experience (15-20 hours) that doesn't overstay its welcome.  Granstream also remains one of the few PS1 RPGs that's still relatively affordable, so go ahead and give it a shot - you might just be pleasantly surprised by it.

Developer: Shade
Publisher: THQ
Released: 1998
Platforms: Playstation 1