Granblue Fantasy Relink Review – Exceeding Expectations

Granblue Fantasy Relink is one of those games that has caught my eye ever since it was announced many years ago. Unfortunately, this game encountered several hurdles throughout its development. It was originally a collaboration between Cygames and PlatinumGames, but over time, suffered multiple delays and even lost the latter company’s support.

At long last, we have borne witness to the product of Cygames’ efforts. On a base level, I think this RPG is one of the best games I’ve played. However, it also turned out to be completely different from what I expected. While that’s not entirely a bad thing, it can be a turn-off for some players anticipating a game akin to an expanded version of Tales of Arise or something similar.

This game is yet another evolution of Granblue Fantasy’s vision beyond the gacha game. Now, instead of a fighting game, we have a full-fledged action RPG whose events are parallel to the gacha. In my opinion, this is the best of the three games, and easily the game I would pick up first over Versus Rising and Granblue Fantasy.

So, what makes this game so special? Let’s find out through this review.

Granblue Fantasy Relink starts off in an alternate continuity from the gacha game, as the Captain of the Grandcypher crew (canonically named Gran/Djeeta, but can have the player’s name) finds themselves attacked by a mysterious organization known as the Pilgrims of Avia. This faction kidnaps the Captain’s life link and longtime friend Lyria, seeing her as a shaman due to her ability to take control of the prime beasts.

Right away, the plot breaks the status quo set by the gacha game, as the Captain and Lyria are typically viewed as inseparable. Here, however, the crew is dead set on rescuing Lyria from the clutches of Avia while also learning more about the organization’s goals, determined as they are to reach the realm of Estalucia, similarly to the Grandcypher crew.

As the crew pursues their investigation into the Pilgrims of Avia and their goals, they slowly find themselves entangled in a larger conspiracy that transcends the skies they cruise, and could mean the end of the world as they know it. While the original goal of retrieving Lyria is set in stone from the beginning chapters, the plot’s stakes continue to rise as the player progresses through the main story.

The game’s plot is nothing you haven’t seen before when it comes to JRPG stories. It can be quite predictable, but the journey toward the goal is filled with highlights. The twists and turns offered by the game can often catch you off-guard, as even the allies you make throughout the journey have their own skeletons in the closet.

What I love about Granblue Fantasy Relink is the constant access that players have to a Glossary, which explains terms players might not be familiar with. The Glossary is available during the game’s visual novel-like scenes, and it’s a welcome resource that allows players to easily keep up with the story.

I know the Glossary feature is available in Granblue Fantasy Versus Rising, so it’s not exactly new. However, this feature takes center stage in Relink since you need to greatly familiarize yourself with the story’s concepts, as the plot does not hold your hand here. . While it was easy for me to connect the dots regarding the main story beats, knowing I had access to the Glossary at any moment in case I needed clarification about a certain term I wasn’t familiar with provided a sense of relief.

The game’s story is complemented by incredible cinematic cutscenes that, more often than not, are grandiose in nature. The game’s central narrative kept me glued to the screen with cutscenes straight out of an action flick and set pieces that constantly upped the ante. The gameplay video will speak for itself in this regard, as how good the game looks is better seen than told.

While I will praise the game’s cutscenes and journey, they come at a cost – the soundtrack. More often than not, the music offered by the game feels more like background noise than anything substantial. Maybe it’s because the dialogue between characters muffles the music, but no tracks stuck out in my mind. It was especially shocking, given that Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu helped with composing.

The game’s graphics are another one of its highlights. Granblue Fantasy Relink brings nice graphics that look similar to the way they did in Granblue Fantasy Versus Rising and can be viewed not only at a smooth 120 FPS but at frame rates such as 60 FPS as well. The game’s been optimized to run well across systems that meet its strongest requirements.

The story of Granblue Fantasy Relink is held together by a tight Action RPG system that’s easy to slip into and relatively complex when mastering it. Characters have access to a standard attack and a signature attack, as well as four unique Skills that differentiate them from one another. Each of the characters in Relink has their own special gimmick that sets them apart.

Take Gran, for example. As he strikes enemies with normal attacks, his Arts level increases. The Arts level influences how powerful his Skills are. So, his gameplay loop revolves around striking enemies as much as possible in order to execute the most powerful versions of his skills, ranging from supportive abilities that provide buffs to AoE attacks whose range increases according to the current Arts level.

After you fill a special meter, characters will get access to Skybound Arts which are moves that do massive damage. You can link (hehe) your party member’s Skybound Arts and perform a full chain of SBAs, which will reward you with a final nuke attack that increases its power as more party members perform their SBAs in quick succession.

Once you take a break from the game’s breathtaking battle system, you’ll be able to further level up your companions by increasing their Masteries. Think of the Mastery system in Granblue as a unique, Sphere Grid-like system in which you can level up individual stats based on Offense and Defense. Each character has their own Mastery grid, so you have to consider which character gets the benefits first.

Additionally, you’ll have access to multiple weapons for each character, which all offer their own varied stats and benefits to play around with. Weapons can be leveled up separately from their characters, and they have their own Mastery benefits as well, so mastering different weapons will also become an important part of the characters’ growth. The more you invest in a character, the better they will perform during missions.

It’s fun to experiment with the game’s roster of characters, but I am honestly a bit disappointed that you can’t switch party leaders on the fly. In other words, you will have to stick to the party leader while the rest of the cast is controlled by the AI. While they hold themselves together well in their own right, I would’ve loved to be capable of switching between my party members freely to coordinate better attacks.

Some observant people might have noticed that I said “Main Story portion” when describing the plot of the game. This is because Granblue Fantasy Relink could be seen as divided into two segments: the main story portion and the quest portion. If I were to describe the gameplay structure of Granblue Fantasy Relink to someone, I would immediately refer to God Eater, as it’s very similar in structure. The more you play through the main story, the more missions you unlock for the quest portion.

Quests in Granblue Fantasy Relink can be played cooperatively with up to four players. They will be faced with various types of fights, ranging from mook rushes, where you have to take down several enemies while accomplishing different objectives, to Boss Fights where the players attempt to beat each of the various bosses that can be found throughout the main story.

While you can play the game by yourself in the quest missions with AI teammates, the real appeal of Granblue Fantasy Relink’s quest portion is the fact that you can play these games with other players. You have to bring your A-game to accomplish some of the objectives in order to gain a high rank and earn more rewards. Some of the objectives in the missions expect you to beat the bosses in less than a minute or two, for example.

I like that the game has a way to keep players entertained after the main story is over. Since the game has a roster of multiple unique characters, players will often come back to experiment with new techniques and team compositions to beat some of the harder content the game has to offer. Moreover, the game has multiple side quests that require players to gather specific materials.

In a way, I find the quest portion of the game the perfect way for players to experience the noteworthy parts. Granblue Fantasy Relink offers a lot of unique encounters, and its boss fights are a sight to behold during battles. While I will always be more inclined to play the main story, I do have the odd session or two where I do nothing but quests to gather materials and strengthen my characters further.

Granblue Fantasy Relink is a solid Action RPG endeavor that allows for great opportunities in terms of variety. It has a decent story that features a wide variety of twists and turns, with plenty of content that will keep players engaged even after the credits roll.

While it does have issues, they don’t bog down the overall gameplay. Unfortunately, some players might see the simpler nature of Granblue Fantasy Relink as a gamebreaker, especially when the draw for the game lies in the team compositions rather than how varied and complex the characters’ kits are.

We live in a day and age where players are demanding more out of their RPG experiences. Something like Granblue Fantasy Relink can be satisfactory, but it certainly could have done more. I mentioned the lack of party switching, but the game also suffers from other small issues, such as how you’re forced to pick four skills instead of having full access to your skill set.

So, while I do recommend this game to God Eater/Monster Hunter fans looking for their next thrill, I will find it a bit harder to recommend it to hardcore RPG players who just got off their latest Baldur’s Gate 3 session. Still, Granblue Fantasy Relink is yet another great departure from the gacha game that came before it, and for that, I will say I enjoyed myself.

Reviewed on PC (code provided by the publisher).

Products mentioned in this post


Granblue Fantasy Relink

Granblue Fantasy Relink offers plenty of options for players to engage with in terms of content. It’s an action RPG that is easy to pick up and difficult to master when it comes to its character roster choices and mechanics. However, when you get to the deeper aspects of it, it doesn’t offer much of note compared to its peers. Still, the way the game delivers its narrative as well as how impressive and tough its boss fights are is definitely worth bringing up. Overall, this is a solid game that could have been a bit more intricate.

Pros
  • Great character variety
  • Complex mechanics for each of the characters in the game’s roster
  • Impressive cutscenes and cinematic elements in its fights
Cons
  • Rather simplistic in its execution
  • Gameplay options are rather limited

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