As a fan of Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma by Quintent, when I heard Granstram Saga was in fact by Quintent I resolved to sit down and play the game. I had played a little bit of the game and read the reviews calling it immensely entertaining and was excited about the game. Having played through all of Quintent's Gaia trilogy, each one better than the previous one, I was expecting something that would that would be rough around the edges (as reviews said) but would be deliver a philosophical experience with strong characterisation. I was really hoping it would making me ponder on the idea of the reincarnation and humanity's reason to live like Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma did.
Unfortunately, my expectations were not met by this game. Here are my reasons:
Boring story - The story is your typical "save the world" standard fare. The world was mostly destroyed and the remaining inhabitant live on floating islands which themselves are sinking. The imperial wizardy is trying to obtain the power which keeps them afloat while you are trying to use the same power to restore the islands. The characters are fairly typical with fairly predictable plot twists but overall the cast is fairly likeable if bland. It is literally at the last stage where all of suddenly it tries to do a 'Terranigma' style climax on you, which was great but there was no real hint of the ending and completely inappropriate at the end of the game where nobody would want to sit through the typical boring story to actually get there to witness it! There really isn't any hint of what happens in the ending to real string you along unlike Terranigma which had you resurrecting the world and guiding history through your choices.
Bland graphics - I won't fault it graphically too much. I certainly think it could have been better if they had stuck to 2D graphics like Terranigma and the 3D models are okay. What I do want to fault it on is its lack of imagination in the level designs and overall creativeness. It lacks the distinctive regions of Illusion of Gaia or Terranigma based of other cultures. There are certainly a number of unique areas but not enough of it. I suspect it might have been because it appeared early in the Playstation console's phase.
Combat - For an action RPG this is really what makes or breaks the game. And unfortunately, the combat is not up to standard. The game has you fight enemies one on one at a time. This is way too repetitive and combat takes way too long due to the weapons being underpowered, the enemies having way too much life and the the extremely slow special abilities. There is magic in the game but the only way to get mana is to defeat enemies and most enemies don't drop it. All in all very disappointing. I can't understand why they didn't implement the standard top down action that all of the other games in the Gaia trilogy have.
I really wanted to like this game but I just can't in good faith really recommend this game to anybody but really really die-hard Quintent fans. It's mediocrity in all areas especially the combat and with glimpses of brilliance make it all the more disappointing. Thumbs down.