Grandia for the PS1 was one of my favourite games growing up. The unique levelling system (at the time), character sprites, combat system and actual sense of adventure always stood out to me. I've finally gotten around to playing through the HD Remaster after over maybe 15 years since I last finished the PS1 version.
Storywise, it's not bad. It's nowhere near the best story I've experienced, but it was good enough to make me want to progress. The mysteries of Alent and the Angelou civilisation were something I was genuinely invested it, especially back on my first playthrough all those years ago.
The combat system is fantastic, and only gets improved upon in Grandia 2, which has one of my favourite battle systems of all time. The combat system allows you to plan out attacks and spells, with the added risk/reward of cancelling out your enemies attacks if you use a critical hit or another powerful move whilst they're in the middle of their animation or charge up. This goes both ways as enemies can cancel out your attacks if you decide to use a skill that requires a charge up time and you get hit during it.
It was definitely a unique system when the game first released, and even now I think it's aged very well. The only downside I can give to it is that the animations for most spells and some skills take a long time to play out, which can be a real pain when you're trying to level up your spells, as it'll make fights take a lot 3-4 times longer.
The levelling system is something I loved about this game. Whilst you do have your usual exp and character levels like most JRPGs, you also level your weapon skills and magic skills by frequently using them, which also give permanent stat bonuses. For example. Justin is able to use a Sword, Mace and an Axe, and by using them in combat, he can level up the respective weapon skills and and learn new moves by doing so. The same goes for magic. It's s great system that promotes using different weapons and spells to improve each character's stats and learn powerful new moves and spells.
On average, the game should take around 35-40 hours to finish. There are a few optional dungeons, but they vary in length and doing all 3 will probably add around 4 hours overall. They're not in the post game though, and can be missed if you progress too far into the story.
Overall I definitely recommend this game to all JRPG fans, especially if you still appreciate the classics.

Reviewed on Nov 04, 2021