Granblue Fantasy: Relink offers two distinct experiences in one package. And whether you’re familiar with the Granblue Fantasy franchise or not, there’s a good chance you might fall in love with it.
Originally a role-playing game made for mobile and PC, Granblue Fantasy has unfortunately never been available outside of Japan. Two fighting games based on the title have, though, as well as an animation series and manga. Now, thanks to Granblue Fantasy: Relink, we have something closer to the source to play; an action RPG with thrilling set-pieces and elements of Monster Hunter.
Following the story of the Captain, Granblue Fantasy: Relink picks up with a crew of skyfarers on a great journey. But then disaster strikes. Coming under attack, a young blue-haired girl called Lyria uses her ability to summon great beasts to protect her friends, unknowing that what has always been a friend would also suddenly become a foe. It begins a series of events that will find Lyria being taken by unknown assailants, and with the life of the captain and Lyria intertwined, you must do everything it takes to get her back.
While it’s useful to have some knowledge of the story of Granblue Fantasy before jumping into Relink, it’s really not necessary. The game does a good job of fleshing the world and characters out enough during its main campaign, and then there are Fate Episodes available for every character that really allow you to dig into the nitty-gritty. And it’s thanks to the thrilling gameplay on offer here that you’ll be eager to dig into all of it.
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The main campaign of Granblue Fantasy: Relink, which is a single-player only experience, is essentially a JRPG with all the fat trimmed away. The result is a journey that should take most players only 15 or so hours to complete, unless they dig into some side-content along the way. While there is some exploration to be found here, the main focus is on epic set-pieces, and so you’ll find yourself going from one hair-raising scenario to another. Each chapter of the story also has at least one epic boss for you to overcome – and when we say epic, we really mean epic.
Outside of the campaign, Granblue Fantasy: Relink has a lot in common with Monster Hunter. From within the game’s towns you can pick up quests that you can tackle alone or with others in co-op. In these quests you might find yourself facing off against a giant boss, fighting against waves of enemies, or perhaps even defending something from enemy attack. The reward for all this is a variety of resources that will enable you to develop your character and their equipment.
The important thing here is that combat in Granblue Fantasy: Relink is an absolute joy. It plays more like a character action game than your usual action-RPG, with smooth animation and solid combat mechanics that reward skillful actions. While the Captain is the main character here, you’re generally free to take control of any member of his crew, which you can grow to over 15 characters providing you take the time to acquire Cremate Cards. Each has their own fighting style for you to master, and by earning Mastery points and spending them across multiple trees, you can put together your own palette of skills and steer their development.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of Granblue Fantasy: Relink is that you can’t switch between your party members during the heat of battle. You can generally switch between them outside of battle, sure, but it would be great if you could move from one to another to make direct use of their unique skills. Instead, you have to rely on them to back you up efficiently, which admittedly they generally do. While we’re pretty confident that most players will enjoy the game’s campaign, the grind-focused nature of the rest of its content may not be to everyone’s taste, either.
Playing Granblue Fantasy: Relink on PS5 for review, it’s a nice-looking game on the whole, but in Performance mode image quality is a little soft. It’s the way to play for sure, though, offering a solid 60fps. What we really have to commend is the game’s use of haptic feedback, which is consistently great. Loading times are wonderfully brief, too.
Those expecting a traditional RPG experience from Granblue Fantasy: Relink might be left disappointed, with developer Cygames instead opting to offer something a little more succinct. It’s hard to not get drawn in by the game’s story, though, especially when it’s backed up by such engaging action, which stands head and shoulders above most in the genre. So, whether you’re an existing fan of Granblue Fantasy or not, if you like the idea of playing through the best bits of an epic RPG campaign and then absorbing yourself in hours of additional quests alone or with others, you’d be wise to give this a look.