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Cygames, the developer behind Granblue Fantasy, took a different approach than industry standards. While many companies initially release their franchises on consoles or PCs and then port them to mobile, Cygames did the opposite.
Granblue Fantasy is a mobile phenomenon in Japan – now also on browsers – that sought to expand its media to dedicated gaming platforms, starting with fighting games and now a glorious take on action RPG in Granblue Fantasy: Relink.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a JRPG through and through. We start our adventure hunting goblins and conclude it by preventing an apocalypse.
The power of friendship is a frequent driving force among allies. At every opportunity, our characters repeatedly shout the names of their abilities.
The colorful aesthetics, a lore filled with concise and creative world-building, and a soundtrack that is nothing short of epic are ingredients that make Granblue Fantasy: Relink a genuine JRPG. But most importantly, it’s an extraordinarily competent and engaging game.
Want to know more? Then check out my review here on RPG Informer of Granblue Fantasy: Relink, played on the PlayStation 5.
The Vast World of Granblue
For those unfamiliar, Granblue Fantasy is a mobile/browser JRPG from 2014. It hasn’t had a global release to date but has an English translation for those interested. I never played this version, but those who did say the game is incredible, with a cast of spectacular characters, envy-inducing world-building, and a growing narrative.
I knew about the classic game. So, when I saw the first trailers for Granblue Fantasy: Relink, I noticed that they were creating a standalone story but not from scratch. To prepare, I watched the game’s anime, and it was a great introduction, already placing me in the lore and the main characters of the plot.
Maybe I didn’t even need it, as Relink has a Glossary system that can be activated during dialogue, explaining various terminologies, similar to Final Fantasy XVI’s ATL system (I love games incorporating this feature).
Characters are brimming with personality and authenticity
Granblue Fantasy’s setting is in a celestial world, in vast airborne archipelagos called Skydoms. Our group is a crew of skyfarers, captained by either Gran or Djeeta – the male and female protagonists, depending on your choice – plus a fixed cast of characters. The crew sails from island to island, facing gigantic creatures called Primal Beasts while trying to find their way to Estalucia, the Land of Astrals.
The story of Granblue Fantasy: Relink takes place in Zegagrande, an unprecedented Skydom for the game that introduces new characters only seen here. The best analogy is that this story is like an anime movie; it involves various known characters but is still a spinoff story that shouldn’t affect the canonicity of the original work.
Lyria, a girl who can control primal beasts, loses control of Bahamut, a magnificent dragon – yes, same name and sovereignty. In a frenzy, Bahamut attacks the crew’s airship, forcing them to land on the nearest island. This is where the crew’s journey begins.
Areas are linear, but they hid quite a few treasures in plain sight
The story presents a fantastical tone that gradually expands, reaching epic heights. It’s the classic tale where we start hunting goblins to eventually prevent a global apocalypse.
Although the plot is somewhat simple with development and conclusion commonly seen in other works, it is sustained by superb writing and engaging characters that make it more grandiose, even though supporting characters are there only to support the main cast or act as a spokesperson for our silent protagonist.
Throughout the chapters, there are numerous action-packed cutscenes in that colorful and dramatic anime style, while an imposing and decorated soundtrack accompanies every story beat. For those dedicated solely to enjoying the main story, expect to invest 20 hours, but these hours are very well spent.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink has almost 20 playable characters. This raises a concern: with so many characters, how do they fit into the unfolding of the main quest? The truth is, they don’t. Only those enabled from the beginning appear in the scenes.
Do you remember when we recruited Yuffie and Vincent in the classic Final Fantasy VII, but they never directly participated in the story because they were optional? Well, it’s the same thing. But you can still use them during main story battles.
This storytelling delivery format is one of the best I’ve seen in a JRPG
But anticipating this and preventing it, Cygames presents a feature called Fate Episode. Every character has up to 11 Fate Episodes, which function as a backstory and sidestory. The characters narrate these stories, covering their background, the moment and why they join the crew, and a unique anecdote within Relink.
This is where the writing shines even more because these episodes have a short story format. They are texts on a static background. For those who want to get to know all the supporting characters, Fate Episodes are perfect and extremely well-crafted, giving that sense of belonging to the secondary characters that had been somewhat neglected.
Easy to Learn, Easy to Master Combat
Granblue Fantasy: Relink is as traditional an action RPG as it gets. We can attack, defend, dodge, and use skills, mixing all this during any encounter against enemies. Each character can have up to eight abilities but only bring four into battle, allowing for different builds depending on the context.
Boss fights are undoubtedly the highlight of the game. They are overly creative and mimic MMO gameplay, marking the ground with the area of effect of a subsequent attack and giving us a window to prepare.
Some stages also feature a different traversal system. Nothing too elaborate, but it works as a great refresh. The gameplay values simplicity but manages to be detailed simultaneously, with many other mechanics supporting it.
That menacing bright red line on the floor is where the boss intends to trample me over
Weapons have different attributes and can be evolved and enhanced. There is a skill tree mechanic called Mastery, which does exactly what a skill tree should do: unlock new abilities and improve attributes.
And lastly, the Sigils system, the most basic form of gear, provides many different statuses, ranging from a simple attack boost to an increase in invulnerability time after a perfect dodge. There are over 40 Sigils, and the more of the same type you equip, the higher the level and effect.
I spent hours and hours creating a build for my main character. Sometimes, I focused on increasing Attack to kill enemies faster. At other times on HP because I was the one dying too quickly. Later, I merged a Drain to recover my HP while hurting the enemy but decided to take a Stun damage sigil because a stunned enemy can’t attack me.
And this customization and skill tree mechanic extends to all characters. Each has its unique and authentic style with original and satisfying gameplay. Granted, you’ll probably like some more than others, but the option for diversification is there.
Each character has an element that is useful when facing an enemy who is weak against it. It is in this dynamism and character rotation game that Granblue Fantasy: Relink shines. Since my main character became a glass cannon, I created my party to have one healer, one tank, and one buffer, supporting me to the fullest. Luckily, the AI-controlled members were highly competent and understood my strategy.
When every party member unleashes their special attack in succession, a Full Burst occurs
The game has side quests and missions. Side quests are snappy and easy to resolve. Talk to an NPC; they’ll ask you to hunt a monster or deliver items without fuss, simple and clean. Missions are the content designed to keep the player engaged after the main story ends.
They range from killing creatures to protecting an area or facing a boss. After completing them, we receive varied rewards, such as materials to evolve weapons and Sigils, as well as experience and money. This is where I felt that Cygames put everything they learned from working on the classic Granblue Fantasy game over the years.
The gameplay loop is very reminiscent of a mobile game. We will do missions repeatedly to collect materials and strengthen ourselves.
After reaching a threshold where I thought I was already at the maximum, the game releases yet another feature and unlocks more missions with fatter rewards, rinse, and repeat. Fifty hours in, I was still unlocking new crafting levels for my weapon. Unlike a mobile game, however, the grinding isn’t that time-consuming. In the Main Story, everything comes naturally; no farming is required.
Even in the post-game, I only needed to do each mission once for the most challenging battles. It was enough to collect the necessary resources. That is, for my main character only. If you try to level every character, you must spend an entire season just playing Relink.
It’s why I got stuck using the same character until the end. After leveling and investing so much in one character, I suffered from the sunken cost fallacy that just thinking about starting over made me exhausted. As the endgame progresses, missions begin to repeat. It’s the same boss fights back-to-back, which can eventually become a slog. However, this repetition is only reserved for the most hardcore among you.
If you like action RPGs with an anime style, a fantastic story, and many characters that could grace a model magazine, check out the following alternatives:
- Trials of Mana
- Tales of Arise
- Star Ocean: The Divine Force
- Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
The Verdict – Score: 9.5/10
This is a review where I wouldn’t want a scoring system. I loved Granblue Fantasy: Relink, sincerely. It’s a wholly well-executed and nearly flawless game. Simple but remarkable.
There was not one thing I disliked about it. I had fun from soup to nuts and know I will continue to enjoy it with my friends in online mode – I didn’t mention multiplayer in the review because I couldn’t find any matches before the embargo.
But at the same time, I feel like I’m being extra subjective in the analysis, even though all reviews are entirely personal.
This is because I’m fascinated by the infinite progression of numbers. I love seeing my characters getting strong, dealing damage in the millions, and killing bosses in less than a minute. Every time I play an RPG, the main story becomes too easy because I dedicate my time to doing all possible side quests, strengthening myself beyond what is required, and steamrolling any enemy.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink has a short life for the casual player who just wants to dedicate themselves to the main story. But for those who, like me, want to elevate the power of their party to infinity, then Relink becomes a field day with endless hours of fun.
- The narrative is snappy, cohesive, and epic
- The lore and writing are top-notch
- Impeccable visuals and performances
- Rewarding and easy-to-track progression system
- Various characters with unique and amusing gameplay
- Some items are locked behind multiplayer
- Repetitive missions eventually become boring
Murillo played for 53 hours before writing the review. Finished the main story and the post-game story, completed numerous missions at the highest difficulty levels, raised his main character to level 100, unlocked several weapons and sigils, and collected 60% of the trophies. He intends to continue playing until netting a platinum trophy and with friends in multiplayer mode.
Question: Should I play Granblue Fantasy before Granblue Fantasy: Relink?
Answer: No need. Those familiar with the original work will surely be acquainted with the characters and lore. Still, Granblue Fantasy: Relink has a standalone story and introduces new characters and locations, making the experience unique for newcomers and veterans alike.
Question: Does Granblue Fantasy: Relink have crossplay?
Answer: Apparently not. The official game website has a fine print that says cross-platform play is only available between PS4 and PS5. Since the game will also be released on Steam, no crossplay will likely exist between consoles and PC.
Question: How long is Granblue Fantasy: Relink?
Answer: The official statement says the main story lasts for 20 hours or 40 if you want to do all the side quests and missions that become available during it. The post-game, however, contains 60 hours of content, demanding about 100 hours for total completion.