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Granblue Fantasy: Relink Review

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The long-awaited release of Granblue Fantasy: Relink has finally arrived, much to the excitement of fans who have been eagerly anticipating its arrival since its official reveal in 2016. With the franchise already enjoying immense popularity through its mobile game and anime adaptation, expectations for this fully realized adventure were understandably high.

While Granblue Fantasy: Relink does deliver on many fronts and meets the expectations of general fans, it may not fully satisfy those craving a truly immersive action JRPG experience. Despite its visually stunning graphics and engaging gameplay, there may be some aspects of the game that fall short of scratching that action JRPG itch you've been yearning for.

Enchanting World Exploration

In Granblue Fantasy: Relink, players have the option to choose either Gran or Djeeta as their main character, but this choice does not affect the overall story. Both characters play similarly, so players can simply pick their favorite. The game's narrative follows an original adventure with the crew already acquainted, making it easier for fans of the IP to understand the plot. However, with a relatively short story length of about 10 to 12 hours, there is limited time for in-depth character development.

Nevertheless, players do have the opportunity to learn more about the characters through other means. The central focus of the narrative revolves around the bond between Djeeta and Lyria, with the introduction of the antagonist, Id, adding depth to the story. While supporting characters like Rolan play important roles in advancing the plot, the other crew members do not have much opportunity for personal growth.

Meeting Fan Expectations: A Balanced Perspective

Despite its shortcomings in terms of runtime and character growth, this game offers an extraordinary adventure. Every moment is filled with breathtaking set pieces and unforgettable boss battles, which continuously drive the player forward.

Focusing primarily on the main characters was a wise decision, as it keeps the overarching narrative intact and allows players who may not be fully invested in this world to still enjoy the game without being bogged down by unnecessary tasks or tedious grinding. Although the campaign is relatively short, it maintains a steady pace and offers a plethora of diverse quests and objectives, ensuring that the gameplay never becomes monotonous.

Mastering Characters and Strategies

In the world of Granblue Fantasy: Relink, while it may not be as open as other games in its genre, the developer has certainly not cut corners when it comes to creating an immersive experience. Players have the opportunity to visit and explore several towns, as well as various themed islands that become accessible as the game progresses. Exploration is strongly encouraged, however, the lack of a real map can pose a challenge early on. Although a compass is provided to indicate the direction of points of interest, the intricate stage design can make it difficult to navigate, particularly within the towns.

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This confusion becomes more apparent in the post-game when players are required to deliver and accept quests, as locating the necessary NPCs can be troublesome. Nevertheless, the game's environments are exceptionally well-designed and offer a thrill to explore, ultimately rewarding players with hidden materials and treasure chests.

The campaign in this game offers a unique gameplay experience compared to side quests and online content. In the campaign, players navigate through action-packed levels and face end bosses at the conclusion of each stage. However, in between these points, players encounter various objectives that add more enemy encounters and spice up the gameplay.

On the other hand, the side quests, which can be accepted from the Quest Counter, provide arena-based levels with different difficulties. These quests involve wave-based battles, bosses, material collecting, and even tower defense. Personally, I never felt overwhelmed or bored with the amount of content, but for those seeking more, there are optional character-specific chapters called Fate Episode. These chapters unlock as players progress and provide extra stories for each character.

Additionally, these episodes raise the character's stats and offer optional difficult battles. It's important to note that the text-only chapters cannot be skipped upon first viewing, so keep that in mind if you're primarily interested in the rewards.

End Game Navigation Challenges

In addition to the main crew, players have the opportunity to unlock a diverse range of characters as they progress through the campaign. While these characters can be chosen and taken on story missions, they do not appear in the actual story scenes. However, players can delve into their individual Fate Episode chapters to learn more about their backgrounds and personalities.

What makes the character selection truly exciting is the fact that each character boasts a unique fighting style, opening up endless possibilities for party creation and strategic gameplay. As I experimented with different characters, I found myself having to invest time in mastering their combo strings and skills to maximize damage output. The game also cleverly incorporates enemy weaknesses, making certain characters more effective against specific foes.

The post-game experience takes things up a notch, resembling a fusion of NieR: Automata and Monster Hunter. Boss battles unfold in 3D-shmup-style arenas, requiring precise timing and evasion skills to avoid telegraphed damage. These formidable adversaries possess multiple phases and attack patterns, demanding careful strategy and quick thinking to overcome. Falling in battle triggers a master timer, adding a sense of urgency to the fight. While revival is possible, once the timer reaches zero, it's an immediate Game Over.

Diverse Fighting Styles and Party Strategies

In the later stages of the game, the focus shifts towards combat and material gathering. The End Game introduces a range of quests, character strengthening, and equipment crafting. As a player, you need to redirect your attention to the materials you have been accumulating throughout the campaign, which you may not have fully comprehended their significance earlier. Slowly, you realize the importance of earning or farming specific materials to enhance your equipment.

Moreover, character progression is not limited to equipment upgrades; each character possesses a skill tree that offers options for improving weapon usage, attack, and defense. It is advisable to prioritize your favorite characters as resources may not be sufficient to level up each character completely. Engaging in online co-op provides an opportunity to strategize effectively, yet a desire for PvP modes lingers, as it would be gratifying to showcase one's skills in a competitive setting.

CyGames' Showcase of Excellence

The combat in this game is undeniably impressive, with its flashy and visually stunning animations. With up to four skills on cooldown and the option to use Link Abilities, players have a variety of ways to cause damage to their opponents. What sets this game apart is its incredibly responsive controls, particularly the dodge mechanic that allows players to cancel out attacks and gain invincibility frames.

As players progress and take on more challenging quests, they must also pay attention to their equipped sigils, adding yet another layer of character customization. However, it is evident that this game has its roots in mobile gaming, as seen in its loot and material farming systems. Although the tie to Granblue Fantasy is understandable, there are moments, such as when players are surfing across sand dunes, where one can't help but wish for a standalone 50-hour adventure in this captivating world.

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The audio direction in Granblue Fantasy: Relink matches the epicness of the campaign itself. The orchestral arrangements that accompany the lengthy boss encounters are nothing short of heart-pounding. These scores serve as a constant motivation, keeping players pushing forward even after experiencing a few setbacks. Additionally, the game offers both English and Japanese audio tracks, both of which are of exceptional quality.

Personally, I opted for the English Dub as the characters engage in conversations during dungeon exploration, and I didn't want to miss out on any important dialogue. Overall, the audio direction in Granblue Fantasy: Relink adds another layer of immersion and excitement to an already captivating gaming experience.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink Review – Verdict

Granblue Fantasy: Relink exemplifies the brilliance of CyGames. Rather than attempting to overhaul the action JRPG genre, they instead put their own unique spin on it. The end result is a game that is not only responsive and addictive, but also offers a refreshing experience for both solo and online play. With its online quests providing an almost limitless supply of action, players can immerse themselves in an endless adventure.

Simultaneously, the story campaign serves as an introduction to the game's mechanics while delivering an equally epic narrative. While there is room for improvement, the post-launch support will ultimately determine the game's lasting appeal. Nonetheless, the wait for Granblue Fantasy: Relink was well worth it, and I eagerly anticipate the future growth of this series.

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Granblue Fantasy: Relink Review
Granblue Fantasy: Relink exemplifies the brilliance of CyGames. Rather than attempting to overhaul the action JRPG genre, they instead put their own unique spin on it. The end result is a game that is not only responsive and addictive, but also offers a refreshing experience for both solo and online play. With its online quests providing an almost limitless supply of action, players can immerse themselves in an endless adventure.
Stunning visuals
Diverse quests prevent monotony
Unique character fighting styles
Short story, limited character growth
Mobile gaming roots evident
Navigation can be challenging