What I know about Granblue Fantasy is probably not worth writing. Its origins on a mobile platform means I’m largely in the dark about the lore and premise. Cygames Osaka have been tasked with Granblue Fantasy: Relink, an action RPG featuring a rag-tag bunch of skyfaring adventurers in search for utopia. It’s a game with a fantastic sense of movement and stellar presentation, although the repetitive combat did start to wear me down at points.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink‘s plot is largely focused around Lyria. Whilst there is an overarching goal of reaching Estalucia, a fabled paradise, Lyria has a habit of being kidnapped. Early in proceedings, she’s accosted by some religious fanatics which results in a game-long chase to get her back. It’s a simple enough premise and, whilst it does have a couple of false finishes, I enjoyed the constant escalation of stakes. There is a great sense of pacing to the story and a strong momentum that builds to a satisfying conclusion.
Combat is uncomplicated. It’s takes on a fairly mashy affair with square and triangle dishing out light and heavy attacks. It allows for some simple combos that can string damage together nicely. You also have the opportunity to block incoming attacks or dodge them. Each character has one or two special attacks they can trigger frequently. Some of these can deal big damage, buff party members or penalise foes. Whilst they are limited by timers, they can be used so often that it doesn’t feel a hindrance.
Through the majority of the story, you’re controlling the Captain. As such, their moveset will become familiar pretty quick. Indeed, I find the combat to rarely change up. Mashing out attacks with the occasional dodge or block has been enough to see me through the story. Encounters do hand you enemies that can sometimes feel like tanks to get through. Allies can’t be commanded so they’ll focus on whatever targets they fancy. At least the opposition feels proactive, resulting in times when defensive measures are required.
This cooperative element does result in some link attacks. These are double-team moves that can dispense heavy damage and do help eliminate foes quickly. The final piece of the combat puzzle is Sky Bound Arts. These are a character’s ultimate attack and you can dictate whether they use these at will or hold off until more of the party can unleash theirs. Doing so allows for all four characters to use these in sequence, stacking the damage in a big, glorious pile.
It did wear on me by the half-way mark. Boss fights seem to be Granblue Fantasy: Relink‘s main focus and, whilst they do showcase the game’s fluidity, I felt a few outstayed their welcome. Some of them genuinely feel like death by a thousand cuts. Given how basic the combat can become, I wish there was more to offer besides mashing attacks out. It can feel repetitive, although the opposition do well to keep you on your toes. As far as I can tell, I wasn’t under-levelled but foes felt formidable throughout the campaign.
Failure comes with plenty of opportunities to revive. You can regain your composure by mashing buttons but this can be sped up if an ally arrives to assist. This can also be done to help your other team members. Usually, there’s four chances to recover before the game finally gives you the game over. I felt pretty resilient with my other part members offering health regain at regular intervals.
The main story can feel surprisingly short but there’s plenty of side and post-game content to keep players engaged. The least interesting of these are the character-specific Fate Episodes. Most of the chapters take on a visual novel-esque text crawl. Upon completion, they’ll get stats boosts. There are some that are more involved with combat and these open up their slots. It’s cool to see character development tied in with it but reading a short excerpt can feel underwhelming.
The other side quests are a mix of fetch quests, wave survival and boss revisits. They’re mostly fine but it’s still dealing with repetitious combat. It can be fun to return to an old boss with new gear and stronger characters. I also feel the rewards are worth it. One other thing to note is how you can hire extra party members in towns and rejig your team accordingly. There’s twenty in total which is a strong, diverse line-up. I kept my main party together but it’s nice to see extra people join the fray during the story. It’s a shame the post-game feels like a grind. It’s needed to unlock the last dregs of story content and I’m just not motivated to see that through.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink‘s visuals are very striking. The skyfaring conceit allows for a lot of blue skies and vivid colours. The characters are well-represented with models that combine 3D work with some intricate brushstrokes. It all seems very polished with facial animations looking especially smooth. In battle, it can be an assault on the senses but there’s plenty of room for spectacle.
Performances from the cast are pretty solid across the board. There is an persistent air of optimism from The Captain with the rest of the crew largely echoing the tone. Stakes can often be pretty dire but there’s a can-do attitude that coats everything the squad does. The same commitment could be said of the main villain who remains staunchly determined to the bitter end. Away from the ship, the two towns look lively with the latter having an air of grandeur about it. They can be relatively large spaces with townsfolk offering jobs to do which encourages exploration.
Granblue Fantasy Relink is a much smaller game than it first appears. With a main story that can be tackled within fifteen hours, the fluid, if simple combat did start to lose my interest. Boss fights are spectacular but a couple of them did try my patience. It’s a very polished experience with some wonderful visuals and performances from the main cast. It’s a shame there’s not a lot new and interesting to explore when it comes to side content.
+ A strong story with a great sense of momentum.
+ Kinetic but simple combat.
+ Solid voice performances from the cast.
- The post-game is where the series' mobile origins really start to show.
- Boss fights can drag on.
- Fate episodes can feel very superfluous.