I do my best not to invest too much hype into a video game. I’ve been burned before, but it’s mostly related to me thinking a game is something that it’s not, but I digress. In 2016, Cygames announced Granblue Fantasy: Relink to be developed in collaboration with Platinum Games. Okay, sold. However, that excitement would fizzle away slowly over time as years passed and updates became few and far between.
Then, Platinum Games left the project leaving Granblue Fantasy: Relink to be the first in-house developed console title. Again, years passed, and the developer even released their second in-house developed game, Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle, before Granblue Fantasy: Relink even received a release date. Now, in 2023, the time has come for the wait to finally be over because Granblue Fantasy: Relink will launch on February 1, 2024. What’s even more exciting is I had the opportunity to go hands-on with the game and take on a few of the larger enemy types.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a much more straightforward action JRPG than seen in trailers and gameplay. Players assemble their teams and head off to take on a mission. The world isn’t open; instead, it is made up of large sections. There are towns to explore and NPCs to interact with, but the core gameplay is mission-based, with an emphasis on straightening bonds within your party to utilize in battle.
During a mission, each character I played, whether a strong warrior class or ranged caster, had strength behind each of their attacks. This was further emphasized when chaining together combos, which can include each member of the party. The result is action-driven fights without coming off as button mashy. However, that said, I didn’t have to think about strategy too much during the fights. The boss was able to cause some major damage, but I wouldn’t say this is a difficult game.
On that note, the developers seem to know that mobile game players may not be the biggest action JRPG fans, so they’ve included two different modes players can pick to get through the game. First is Assist Mode, where you can perform combos with a single button press. This Mode also includes auto systems for guard, dash, and healing, along with Map assistance. Alternatively, there’s Full-Assist Mode, which basically does everything for you throughout the entire game, automatically allowing players to enjoy the story.
I appreciated this, and even though I didn’t get to see the Game Over screen, I saw plenty of my colleagues meet a quick end. The battles do have phases, but I’m eager to take part in some of the more significant fights. I’m hoping for real tension and party comradery throughout the campaign. This is a game that I’ve been looking forward to for so long, and seeing it in such a grand state makes me eager to play more.
While I wasn’t able to experience too much of the story, I found the action to be a balanced and enjoyable time. The battles are hectic and colorful as you chip away at the boss enemy’s health while clearing out the grunt enemies. When it comes to what I’m looking for in the final product though is based on the mission structure and the gameloop. Action games like this have a tendency to grow repetitive over time, but with a cast this diverse and the wealth of lore the developer can tap into, I’m staying positive.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via Steam on February 1, 2024.
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