Granblue Fantasy: Relink Review – A Grand Adventure Awaits…Post Credits

Granblue Fantasy: Relink Review: A Grand Adventure for JRPG Enthusiasts

When Granblue Fantasy: Relink was officially revealed in 2016, expectations for the project were high. By that point, the franchise had reached acclaim through its popular mobile game and anime adaptation, and this was meant to be a fully realized adventure in this world. Almost 8 years later, Granblue Fantasy: Relink is finally here, and delivers what I feel meets the expectations of general fans, but the experience as a whole may not bode well to truly scratch that action JRPG itch you’ve been having.

Exploring the Enchanting World of Granblue Fantasy: Relink

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Granblue Fantasy: Relink allows you to choose either Gran or Djeeta as your main character. This doesn’t change any of the story beats, and the characters generally play the same, so choose your favorite. The story follows an original adventure after most of the crew has already met, which means fans of the IP will catch on a bit faster to what exactly is going on. Further, the story is only about 10 – 12 hours long, which leaves little time for actual character development. Still, there are options for players to learn more about the characters, but we’ll get into that later. The core narrative revolves around the bond between Djeeta and Lyria and then later gets rounded out by the antagonist, Id. While supporting characters such as Rolan play significant roles in progressing the narrative, none of the other crew members get the chance to grow.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink meets the expectations of general fans, but may not fully satisfy those craving a deep action JRPG experience.

While the runtime and lack of significant character growth might be negatives, this is one hell of an adventure. Every moment of this game is packed with epic set pieces and memorable boss encounters, and that becomes the main driving force to press on. In retrospect, focusing mainly on the leads was a good choice not to lose sight of the overarching narrative. It allows players who may not be interested in this world a chance to get a taste of it without busy work or overly grindy sections. Considering the brief campaign, I won’t spoil any of the big moments, but it keeps its pacing fairly well and offers more than enough diversity within questlines and objectives to never become dull.

Character Mastery and Strategy in Granblue Fantasy: Relink

The world of Granblue Fantasy: Relink isn’t as open as other entries in the genre, but that doesn’t mean the developer cut corners with this experience. There are several towns to visit and explore alongside various themed islands, which you gain access to over time. Exploration is encouraged, but the lack of a real map becomes an issue early on. There’s a compass that shows the direction of points of interest, but the stage design can be pretty complex, making it tough to find your way, especially in town. This sense of confusion becomes even more apparent post-game when you have to deliver and accept quests because you have trouble finding the NPC. Still, the environments are very well designed and fun to explore, which is rewarded with hidden materials and treasure chests.

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The campaign plays a bit differently when compared to side quests and online content. During the campaign, the stages represent traditional action levels where you move throughout the stage and conclude with an end boss. With that said, there are different objectives that creep up between those two points that shake up gameplay with more enemy encounters. On the other hand, the side quests are accepted from the Quest Counter and range in difficulty, but these are more traditional arena-based levels with objectives that include wave-based battles, bosses, material collecting, and tower defense. I actually never felt like I had too little or too much to do, but if you want more, there are optional character-specific chapters called Fate Episode that dive into each individual character with extra stories that unlock as you progress. The additional benefit of this is that it raises the character’s stats along with providing optional difficult battles, but you can’t skip the text-only chapters upon first viewing, so keep that in mind if you’re just looking for the rewards.

Navigating the End Game of Granblue Fantasy: Relink

The world of Granblue Fantasy: Relink is well-designed and fun to explore, rewarded with hidden materials and treasure chests.

Aside from the core crew, you’ll be able to unlock various other characters as you reach milestones in the campaign. Even if you can choose the characters and take them into story missions, they aren’t featured in the actual story scenes, but you do have their individual Fate Episode chapters, as mentioned earlier, if you want to learn more about them. Interestingly, every character has a unique fighting style that opens up so many possibilities in terms of party creation and strategy. Each time I chose a new character, I had to really practice with their combo strings and skills to determine the highest damage output. Depending on the enemy, specific characters are just a better match, and some of the post-game enemies are no joke. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this entire post-game experience is basically NieR: Automata meets Monster Hunter. The boss battles resemble 3D-shmup-style arenas where you have to time your attacks and avoid telegraphed damage. Further, the boss enemies have various phases and attack patterns that keep you on your toes and do require some strategy to get through. If you fall in battle, a master timer begins to tick. Although you can be revived, once that timer ends, it’s Game Over.

Each character in Granblue Fantasy: Relink has a unique fighting style, opening up many possibilities for party creation and strategy.

At this point, the game becomes all about the combat and material gathering. The End Game turns into taking on quests, strengthening characters, and crafting new equipment. Your gamer brain then needs to shift to all of these materials you were picking up throughout the campaign that you didn’t really understand. Slowly, you’re forced to figure out how to earn specific materials or farm them for better equipment. However, it’s not just the equipment that can be leveled up; each character has a proper skill tree that includes options for improved weapon usage, attack, and defense. I would advise focusing mainly on your favorite characters first because you will likely never have enough resources to level up each character fully. Through online co-op, you can really focus on strategy, but I couldn’t help but wish there were some PvP modes to really show off my skills.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink showcases CyGames at their best, focusing on putting their unique twist on the action JRPG formula.

Combat is just so flashy in this game, where you have up to four skills on cooldown and optional Link Abilities that grant more ways to cause damage. The controls are extremely responsive, especially the dodge that allows you to cancel out attacks and gain i-frames. As you take on more challenging quests, you’ll need to start paying attention to your equipped sigils, which adds another layer to the game’s character customization mechanics. There’s a clear tie to Relink’s mobile roots found within the loot and material farming systems, but there are moments, such as when you’re surfing across sand dunes, where you kind of wish this wasn’t tied to Granblue Fantasy if only for a 50-hour adventure in this world to make sense.

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The audio direction for Granblue Fantasy: Relink is just as epic as the campaign. The orchestral arrangements fuel the lengthy boss encounters with heart-pounding scores that keep you pushing forward, even after a few falls. Further, both the English and Japanese audio tracks were great. I kept the English Dub on because the characters talk to each other during dungeons, and I didn’t want to miss any conversations.

CyGames’ Unique Approach to the Action JRPG Genre in Granblue Fantasy: Relink

Granblue Fantasy: Relink showcases CyGames at their best. They don’t attempt to reinvent the action JRPG genre; instead, they focus on putting their unique twist on the formula. The result is a responsive and addictive experience for solo and online play. For those wanting the most, the online quests offer an almost endless supply of action. At the same time, the story campaign serves as a general introduction to the mechanics but remains equally epic. There’s room for improvement, though, and post-launch support will determine the lasting appeal of this experience, but for what it’s worth, the wait was worth it, and I’m excited for future growth in this series.

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A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Granblue Fantasy: Relink (PS5)

Granblue Fantasy: Relink meets fan expectations, offering an engaging but brief action JRPG experience. The story, centered around a tight-knit cast, unfolds over 10-12 hours, focusing on impactful set pieces and boss battles rather than extensive character development. Exploration is rewarding despite some navigational challenges. Combat is a highlight, with each character bringing a unique style that enriches strategy, especially in the demanding post-game content. The game's audio enhances the epic atmosphere. Overall, while not groundbreaking, Granblue Fantasy: Relink impresses with its solid gameplay and holds promise for future expansions in the series.

The Good

  • Packed Adventure: The game is described as a non-stop epic adventure with memorable set pieces and boss encounters, keeping the pacing engaging throughout.
  • Diverse Exploration: Despite not being fully open-world, the game offers various towns and themed islands to explore, rewarding players with materials and treasure chests.
  • Unique Character Customization: Characters have unique fighting styles and skill trees, providing depth in party creation and combat strategies.
  • Impressive Audio Direction: The game boasts an epic orchestral score that complements the boss battles and overall gameplay, along with high-quality English and Japanese audio tracks.
  • Responsive and Flashy Combat: Combat features up to four skills on cooldown, Link Abilities, and responsive controls, especially the dodge mechanic, which enhances the gameplay experience.

The Bad

  • Limited Character Development: The game's relatively short campaign leaves little room for significant character growth, with some crew members missing the chance to evolve.
  • Navigation Challenges: The lack of a real map can make navigation complex, especially in towns, leading to confusion and difficulty finding NPCs or points of interest.
  • Repetitive Boss Mechanics: Early bosses may feel monotonous due to similar attack patterns, potentially leading to boredom during these encounters.