Review Granblue Fantasy: Relink | Lots of fat for little meat

Cygames

When I played Granblue Fantasy Versus, in late 2023, I became genuinely interested in the franchise. I had never seen anything about it and the little that the fighting game presented about characters and their universe made me curious to see more of this world — and the RPG scheduled to hit consoles a few months later seemed to be the perfect opportunity to present this saga. However, at the end of the day, Cygames doesn’t seem to be interested in players like me who are just arriving.

This is because, contrary to common sense, Relink is not a gateway to the series nor is it a recap or definitive version of what the Granblue Fantasy original presented in its mobile version in Japan. The new game is, in fact, a continuation of a story that the entire West is unaware of and, worse, that seems to turn its back on those who are familiar with the series — almost as if saying that my presence , as a newbie, you are not welcome here.

It’s a very bizarre approach and one that greatly affects the overall experience of a title that has very fun and varied gameplay, but that doesn’t know how to take advantage of it for the simple fact that it alienates those who are coming to it. Granblue for the first time.

And, taking into account that the true gold of Relink is in its post-game content, with all the additional missions focused on multiplayer and the sea of ​​unlockable elements, enduring a campaign that lasts between 15 and 20 hours that clearly doesn’t give a damn about engaging the player becomes an ordeal and so much.

Nobody cares

You can argue that Granblue Fantasy: Relink It’s not really an introductory game, but an intermediate chapter in a series that’s completing 10 years and, for that reason, it doesn’t make sense for the game to be an introductory game. After all, no one will watch Fast and Furious 10 waiting for the characters to be introduced again.

It’s an argument that would even make sense if we were talking about a franchise that had been available here all this time. Granblue Fantasy was born in 2014 for Android, iOS and browsers in Japan, but never reached the West. If you look for the game on your smartphone, you simply won’t find it.

For that very reason, Relink is the first game in the series to actually reach the general public in this corner of the globe — in addition to being the RPG’s debut on consoles after two stints in the world of fighting games. So, it’s not wrong of me to embark on this trip without knowing anything or anyone.

And why is this so uncomfortable? Because the new Granblue Fantasy it is simply an adventure that the player takes half way through. Imagine it as a series that you started watching in the second season, in which there is a universe of characters that you don’t know interacting and referring to important events that you don’t know about. How do you get involved and care about any of these things?

It seems like a cheap pet peeve, but this lack of care for the public that is arriving now (and, I repeat, this is the franchise’s debut as an RPG on consoles) simply prevents you from caring in the slightest about the heroes or what is happening. Why is the protagonist Gran so obsessed with Lirya? What are the girl’s powers? What connection does the entire crew have with the young captain? It doesn’t matter.

Truth be told, Relink brings a contextualization option, but it is done so lazily that it would be better to pretend it doesn’t exist. The Episodes of Destiny provide a great summary of the journey of each of the 19 characters, but this is done in the form of long texts that, because they are so boring, offer prizes for those who read them. It’s as if the game told you to go to Wikipedia to find out the story instead of creating a more welcoming solution for new players.

This inability to Granblue Fantasy: Relink Creating a newbie-friendly experience deflates the campaign too much and makes it clear how, in the end, the story of Gran and the crew of the Grandcypher ship is just a huge fat pad for what Cygames is actually offering.

We’ll talk a little about real meat soon. For now, let’s keep beating the fat.

A campaign as an excuse

Without being able to engage the player in its story, the main adventure of Granblue Fantasy: Relink ends up being drained of pure generic JRPG juice. An uncharismatic hero with a good heart, a funny pet, a girl with a mysterious past and a very varied group traveling through a medieval fantasy world populated by three or four different races as they see a threat emerge that could destroy the entire world. You’ve seen this story countless times and you won’t find anything different here.

And it’s really unfair to summarize the game just to that, but that’s what Cygames itself does when it alienates the player from all the richness that this world offers.

My interest in Granblue was born precisely from the small pinches of history that Versus: Rising had left. I was curious and wanted to know more about the mythology of this universe. The primeval beasts, Lirya’s relationship with these beings and Gran’s own bond with these elements is something interesting, but that Relink treats it as if it were common knowledge, without knowing how to bring the audience into this story.

This means that, as said, the entire campaign is a huge fat 20 hours made for you to test the characters that will be used in the post-game, which is where the studio’s real interest lies. However, by following this strategy, it alienates the player — not to say that it loses him for good.

Unlike most JRPGs, Granblue Fantasy: Relink allows you to control any of the 19 characters throughout the campaign, not limited to the hero Gran at any time. This is very positive not only because the protagonist is completely boring, but because the cast is very varied and has very different mechanics, showing that the game’s true strength lies in its gameplay.

Characters like Katalina and Gran himself are more balanced and combine strength and agility with the sword. Lancelot attacks with great speed with his ice blows, while Percival is the ultimate fire fighter. There are also figures who mix support and elemental magic, like Io, and those who use firearms and attack from a distance, like Rackan and Eugen.

All this variety is well felt in the gameplay and the campaign is just for you to test these different styles until you find a figure that fits the type of game you prefer. It’s a very interesting path and one that adds value to such a neglected campaign.

On the other hand, the fact that the game doesn’t provide any context about who is who in this universe makes it difficult for you to even know who works in which way. So, one of two: either you will go through trial and error (and a lot of persistence) until you find someone who suits your style or you will use all your mastery points and resources to optimize Gran’s abilities, limiting himself again. Relink to any JRPG.

Frantic and a lot of fun

If you can overcome all that fat that Granblue Fantasy: Relink presents, gets to the meat, the part that really makes the game interesting. While the campaign seems to want to keep the player away from each moment, the frenetic gameplay is what makes persistence worthwhile.

All of the game’s combat mechanics are very fun, exploring all the chaos and frenzy that a good action RPG requires. In addition to each character having a different type of performance in confrontations, there is a very significant number of skills to be explored and which make the fights very rich both in the strategic field and in terms of good fighting.

The logic behind the combats is very similar Genshin Impact, in which the use of special moves is dictated by the charging time of these attacks rather than an MP bar or something similar. This way, you don’t worry about saving resources and can use and abuse these unique powers — which makes clashes a real show of lights and effects.

In fact, the comparison with the miHoYo title is very pertinent, as there are other similarities in Granblue. Although Cygames’ RPG has given up on the gacha mechanics found in the original game, the entire dynamic of character evolution is very reminiscent of what Genshin also presents.

Mastery points are shared among all dolls and you need to do and redo missions several times to be able to evolve them, gaining new skills or improving their attributes. Additionally, there are various types of points and coins that you must collect to unlock weapons and upgrades — and that’s where the charm of Relink.

This is because, just as in Genshin Impact, Granblue Fantasy also rests on the basis of grind It’s from farm. And while these practices tend to be pretty annoying in the vast majority of JRPGs, Relink It uses its multiplayer component very well to transform this ordeal of the genre into the best in the game.

All this collection of resources to evolve your characters is done through these missions that are parallel to the campaign and can be carried out alongside other players. And this social component of forming a team and fighting at this frantic and crazy pace works very well, especially if you are among friends. So good that you don’t feel the repetition or the weight of collecting coins and crystals.

It’s the real filet mignon that all that layer of fat hides. And Cygames is well aware of this, so much so that they make no effort to hide the fact that what they really wanted to develop was this multiplayer experience. So much so that when you finish the campaign you release a…