Round of applause to publisher/developer Cygames. The Japanese-based studio has done the unthinkable - release three console games based on a mega-popular mobile gacha JRPG that hasn't even made its way to our shores yet. I never would have imagined an IP that gamers may have never played in their life inspiring the release of two quality fighters and a long-in-the-making action RPG that has made those same gamers a fan of Granblue Fantasy's fascinating world, characters, and storylines. To be quite honest, I'm one of those fans. Granblue Fantasy: Versus and its updated follow-up Rising have caused me to fall in love with the likes of Djeeta, Siegfried, Lancelot, and more of Granblue's charismatic saviors. With all that love and respect for everything established in the Granblue Fantasy's expansive world, I came into Cygames' next lofty project with plenty of hype. I'm happy to say that my high level of hype was met tenfold. Here is my Granblue Fantasy: Relink review.
'Granblue Fantasy: Relink' Review: From Mobile Gacha to Action RPG Glory
'Granblue Fantasy: Relink' Review
Cygames worked its magic when it came to replicating the same superb art style established in the mobile game within Granblue Fantasy: Relink. It's mindblowing watching the characters that originated in a comparatively simple gacha RPG come to life with more complex combat actions and movement options. Watching Narmaya summon her ancestral beasts against a giant golem leads to one of the many jaw-dropping moments that occur for fans who have become infatuated with Granblue Fantasy's most recognizable party members. The nice variety of biomes you'll venture to & explore, the lively towns you'll inhabit in between tackling story missions & assorted side tasks, and the eye-popping special moves each playable character pulls off are further examples of Granblue Fantasy: Relink's stunning visual output & art style. The only blemish on this game's graphics is the overabundance of special attack effects that take over the screen at times when multiple characters simultaneously activate their respective moves. It can be a bit much at times when your eyes are greeted by overwhelming splashes of red, green, blue, and yellow during some of the game's more explosive boss fights.
If you come into Granblue Fantasy: Relink expecting a sweeping orchestral soundtrack that's pure class, then you'll be more than pleased with the tunes that play out here. My adrenaline rose whenever "Moment of Truth, Lyria's Rescue" came through my headphones, I had a bit of fear put into my heart whenever the opening salvo of "Id's Theme" started playing, and I fell in love with the more soothing undertones of "Leautagne Island." The music that's presented here is top quality and exactly what I've come to expect from major Japanese studio-developed JRPGs.
The main attraction for Granblue Fantasy: Relink is its thrilling combat mechanics. Before leaving all of the game's development duties to Cygames, PlatinumGames (Bayonetta, NieR:Automata) worked on the game for a bit to provide their expertise in the area of impactful & exciting combat. That aforementioned studio's previous work is evident in just how great the combat looks and feels. I never grew bored of taking the fight to cannon fodder enemies and big brutes because of how fine-tuned this game's playable roster is. Every party member has a fun signature playstyle that gives you a reason to swap between them right in the middle of a story mission. Pulverizing foes with Ghandagoza's heavy punches, clearing the way for your friends with Vane's sweeping combined spear-ax, and trapping multiple foes in an area-of-effect spell with Io point to those moments during a battle that feels so fulfilling. Mindlessly hacking and slashing isn't a thing here, thankfully - you'll have to keep track of when to use your special attacks, watching their meters refill before you can use them again, using the "Perfect Guard" & "Perfect Dodge" mechanics to gain the upper hand with stat boosts, being notified of the chance to land a "Link Attack," when to activate your "Skybound Art" to further lead into a catastrophic "Chain Burst, etc.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink is split up into two major parts - its single-player campaign and online co-op missions that range in difficulty. I ended up loving the main campaign because it wasn't too lengthy when you consider the average time sink JRPGs require of its players and also because of how enthralling I found its plot to be. When you factor in just how extraordinary the main campaign's bosses are (that fight in the desert against the towering "Maglielle" must be seen and played to be believed!) and the high stakes attached to putting an end to the evil machinations of a powerful cult, you have even more reasons as to why Granblue Fantasy: Relink's story is such a great time. My only issue with that portion of the game is the sometimes unreliable behavior of your AI partners. While they're effective when it comes to staying on the offensive, they tend to lose all common sense when it comes to being properly defensive. I lost count of how many times I had to stop what I was doing to revive my crewmates because they decided to stand in the highly telegraphed attack radius of an enemy. Moments like that one left me wishing that the online co-op option was also applicable to the game's main campaign.
The multiplayer portion of Granblue Fantasy: Relink manages to be a fun detour in between story missions and once you're done beating it completely. It was always a fun time to scrounge up some randoms or link up with friends to take our highly-leveled characters into battle against increasing waves of assorted enemies and confront a singular behemoth when the time came to clash with a dominant boss. A lot of work and care was put into this game's content suite and it shows - single-player story missions, online co-op missions, character-specific "Fate Episode" quests, tons of character upgrading & weapon crafting opportunities, unlocking new playable warriors, and more kept me busy for much longer than I expected. With the promise of more playable characters and challenging battles as free DLC, Granblue Fantasy: Relink has what it takes to become grander as time wears on.
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