The Granstream Saga (グランストリーム伝記, Guransutorīmu Denki) is an action role-playing game for the PlayStation. The game was developed by a team consisting of staff from the developer Quintet under the name Shade.
The Granstream Saga is lauded as one of the first fully polygonal RPGs, as opposed to using pre-rendered backgrounds. The game features anime-style cutscenes by Production I.G. It is also somewhat unusual in that the characters the player meets in the game are faceless.
Gameplay consists of top-down rpg-exploration and storytelling. When confronted or ambushed by an enemy, the camera angle shifts to a 45 degree angle, and combat gameplay begins. Combat gameplay consists of realtime battles, as opposed to the norm of turn based rpg combat. In realtime combat, you will utilize several weapons and abilities, such as swords, daggers, axes, warhammers, and various spells. When not in combat, you will spend a very large time exploring, gaining new weapons and armor, and conversing with the many characters of the different continents.
Taken from the English version manual: "One hundred years ago, on the planet of Granstream, a terrible war took place. The Battle raged between two opposing forces - the evil Imperial Wizardry and the noble Allied Spirit Army. Both sides were nearly evenly matched, and victory seemed out of reach for either army. Then, in desperation, the Imperial Wizardry used a weapon that had been banned long ago due to its terrible destructive power and unpredictability.
The weapon was fired into the core of the planet, with the objective of annihilating a huge portion of the Allied Spirit Army's forces. But a miscalculation by the weapon's operators caused a catastrophic chain reaction. The damage was so great that the planet actually shifted on its axis, causing the melting of the polar ice caps and threatening to entirely cover the planet's surface with water.
Far above the battles of the two forces, four Wise Men had been watching, waiting for the disaster they knew would come. Foreseeing the cataclysm through their magic, the Wise Men acted as the continents began to submerge. Using their mystical Fortress Airlim, powered by four elemental Orbs, the Wise Men were able to raise four of the continents into the air. These four continents were the only land not swallowed by the rising oceans, and the people on them were the only survivors of the catastrophe.
The Wise Men knew that to keep the continents floating, they need to recharge Airlim periodically with the four Orbs - each one representing one element (Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth). Each Orb corresponded to a continent, and each Wise Man controlled a single Orb. To prevent the power of the Orbs from falling into the wrong hands, each Orb had to be activated by a special verse, recited by one of the Wise Men.
As the Wise Men aged and began to weaken, they each selected a descendant to carry on their task. And so it was, for one hundred years. But now, as the people of the four continents struggle to renew their civilization, dark rumors begin to spread amongst them - of the Wise Men disappearing, of Imperial Wizardry airships once again seen in the skies. And the continents themselves are slowly sinking lower, closer to the hungry waters waiting below.
On the continent of Shilf, a young orphan named Eon is being raised by a kindly old man, Valos. Valos is using magic stones to carve off pieces of the continent to try and make it lighter and slow the descent towards the ocean, But without the help of the Wise Men, Valos knows, such measures only delay the inevitable. He wonders if anyone can save them now..."
The game takes places after a short animated sequence where Eon and Valos cut a section of land off of Shilf. After discovering a young boy has disappeared, Valos performs locating magic to find the boy in an ancient cemetery. The spirit of the Wise Man speaks to Eon here, and asks him to find and help his daughter, Arcia, to use the Orb and recite the lifting verse to raise the land. Together they make it a goal to raise the other continents as well, and set off on a journey.
The game's anime cutscenes feature music by composer Kohei Tanaka while the rest of the in-game music was composed by Quintet's sound staff including Masanori Hikichi, Miyoko Takaoka and Takako Ochiai.
Upon release, GamePro scored it 5 out of 5, stating it is "one of the most enjoyable new role-playing games of the year," praising its "intriguing story line, evil enemies, and frantic fighting action." They considered the "voice-overs during most of the cut scenes" as "audio highlights" and concluded its blend of "classic RPG elements (puzzle solving, spells, saving mankind) with those of the action/fighter genre" make it "a fun, challenging adventure."
The game holds an average score of 66% at GameRankings, based on an aggregate of 9 reviews. THQ was the United States publisher, and their job with the English version's voice acting in the game has been criticized in retrospective critiques. Hardcore Gaming 101 gave it a positive retrospective review, stating that, with "its immensely enjoyable combat system, excellently executed story, and very strong presentation, Granstream Saga is easily Quintet's finest work."