a great JRPG, just too short

Granblue Fantasy: Relink has a spectacular setting and a brilliant combat system, but the short duration is a minus.

The world of Granblue Fantasy has always deserved a big budget RPG. It’s one of the most beloved gacha franchises, and it has an incredibly intricate and detailed world – especially considering that this is the first time we’ve been able to explore it in 3D since the original game launched almost ten years ago. Granblue Fantasy: Relink is set in the clouds, with traditional kingdoms replaced by Skydoms, giant floating islands featuring vast deserts, dense jungles, and beautiful cities.

Looking up in any of the cities in the game, we discover very tall buildings, with detailed reliefs on the facades of each one, while, on the ground, the market stalls and café windows are full of details, more than we could have imagined. Granblue Fantasy: Relink stands out from the crowd with its cel-shaded art style and elaborate environments, and its combat system is no different either, thanks to more than a dozen playable characters, each with their own abilities . Too bad it lasts so short.

On a temporal level, Relink is set in the midst of the Granblue Fantasy storyline: the crew is once again taking to the skies in preparation for their next adventure, before our friend Lyria is kidnapped by a powerful new group of enemies. We’re not saying we were expecting an Odyssey, but being able to complete the main story in around 15 hours – including all available side quests – was a bit surprising. Major antagonists are developed and eliminated in a flash, and there is no variety between the different chapters: each time you go through a linear corridor in which you eliminate regular enemies and then defeat a big boss, or more than one, towards the end. Once the game puts you in control of a mech and it’s a very fun section but, well, it only happens once.

An excellent combat system —

Bombing these corridors is really cool, though, because Granblue Fantasy: Relink’s action combat is fluid and highly spectacular. Once you’ve unlocked basic abilities, like the Perfect Dodge, the game feels effective and responsive, even if enemies bring out their unstoppable red attack a little too often. Chaining skills with aerial combos and using each character’s unique features, such as energy storage, charged attacks or minions, feels great as soon as you get used to it. But the point is, as soon as you get used to it, it’s all over.

To put things a little further, the game doesn’t let you earn enough experience to level up quickly if you only focus on the main story: you’ll have to complete the side missions and additional Quest Counter missions. These missions aren’t really called side missions, and that’s because they’re as good as they are necessary: ​​in most cases they’re over in a few minutes and don’t pose too much of a threat, but they often reuse areas and even bosses multiple times. We fought a giant ice wolf at least three times, with little variation in attack patterns and very little else.

It’s a bit like Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core in that sense, but what you wouldn’t expect is that Quest Counters quickly become the main focus. Once the main story and the epilogue chapter have been completed, the Quest Counters will continue to be populated with new, increasingly difficult missions, which you will be encouraged to tackle in online cooperative. The most probative missions require careful optimization of the party’s equipment and abilities, and this is where the gacha influence of the original mobile game starts to become apparent.

The endgame —

Here you’re asked to continually collect items from chests and complete quests, and these items feed into an upgrade system where you level up a weapon, unlock its level cap, level up further, perhaps combine an item with another, you unlock the level cap again, and so on. Seals work in a similar way: they give small benefits when equipped and can be upgraded in exchange for a long list of nonsensical items.

granblue fantasy relink

Coming to the endgame, we have a Monster Hunter-lite experience, in which we repeat the process of collecting materials, upgrading equipment and more difficult challenges of the main game in abundance. You’d be forgiven if you didn’t even know that the game features co-op, especially since co-op only works with Quest Counter missions.

We’re a little torn. Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a splendid JRPG with a cast of characters that we recognize and like (thanks to Arc System Works’ fighting game), but the story might as well not be there and we wouldn’t even notice, the missions end too soon and we would prefer play a real Monster Hunter that the endgame present here. The diversity of characters means that some players will happily be stuck in a loop of grinding and upgrading as they complete the roster, but that’s not for us.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink, the verdict —

Granblue Fantasy: Relink is good while it lasts. Every now and then we don’t mind having a shorter JRPG instead of the classic 60 hour marathons but, with such a length, the game simply doesn’t have the necessary time to develop both in terms of gameplay and story. And this also means that, if you are not familiar with the cast before starting it, you will have no way to bond with any of the protagonists. The opposite is true, however, for the splendid cities in which it is set. Ultimately, Relink was a fun experience, but we’re both happy and sad that it’s already over.