The Granblue Fantasy series has been all over the show across a range of different genres in the past. There’s the more recent Granblue Fantasy: Versus which is a fighting game starring the cast as sprite-drawn fighters. Then there’s the main series release simply called Granblue Fantasy. The game is widely popular on iOS and Android with almost 39 million active players. Now, we have the refreshing Granblue Fantasy: Relink – an ambitious RPG that focuses less on arcade fighting and more on loot, end-game quests and a rather superb yet short story.
The games have been widely popular in Japan and while there are various lore aspects to each character and the world, unless you play the mobile game, you won’t know what’s going on. As a result, Relink aims to make a dent in the RPG genre and if anything, it stands among the greats such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.
Going into Granblue Fantasy: Relink, I was taken aback a bit by how much the game relies on its ongoing story, which it doesn’t really explain at first. The game starts following a band of Skyfarers across a world known as the Sky Realm. From my understanding at first, this group of people are seeking out a location called The End of The Skies – also known as Estalucia.
The group is led by the Captain and his Life-Linked friend, Lyria. The latter is a blue-haired girl who has the power to summon Primal Beasts. According to the game’s lore, the Captain found Lyria in a forest, the two got roped into an ongoing war and upon the Captain’s death, Lyria brought them back to life forming this Life Link.
Quite a lot happened in-between that moment and Granblue Fantasy: Relink. Thankfully, the game does offer various ways to catch up on the story. There’s a robust journal feature with topics about the Sky Realm, the previous events (which I gathered were told in the mobile game) and how the band of Skyfarers came together. Whatever happened in the past, Granblue Fantasy: Relink kicks off with this group entering the Zegegrande Skydom, a previously unexplored area.
I get that telling the entire story up to this point would have been quite an undertaking but unless you willingly dive into the various pages of lore, you’re not going to have any clue what is going on. With that being said, I did enjoy reading up on the entire story and all the side notes. It gave me a good understanding of the entire Granblue Fantasy world. Of which has been rather impressively created.
The story, of the lack thereof aside, Granblue Fantasy: Relink kicks off with a bang. The group find themselves travelling through the Zegegrande Skydom until Lyria gets kidnapped by an evil group called the Church of Avia. I won’t say much else to avoid spoilers but the quest explores her powers and unlocking a secret realm to vanquish the current Sky Realm and start it anew in the Church’s vision.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink is very much an action game as it is an RPG. The game features familiar fighting mechanics to that of the Tales series including some button mashing and skill attacks that go on cooldown. There’s also a cool dodge-and-defend system that grants a parry attack and invincibility when timed perfectly.
The main story in Granblue Fantasy: Relink doesn’t last very long. I clocked in at 13 hours but those hours were spent exploring some gorgeous islands in the sky, fighting intense large-scale battles and getting to know the cast. While 13 hours is nothing for an RPG, the story manages to wrap up quite nicely and doesn’t draw out. Each Sky Island was also themed around a specific element such as Wind, Earth, Ice and Fire.
It does sound rather cliche but these locations were all beautifully designed and packed with optional challenges, unique bosses, materials to collect and more. I especially enjoyed Dahli Island, a vast desert location where I had to activate four relic platforms protected by a boss fight. I could also surf across the dunes at high-speed thanks to wind boost rings scattered around the area.
In the end, I faced off against a towering stone golem that literally had my party climbing its body to attack weak spots. These fights are no doubt the stand out in Granblue Fantasy: Relink and I was surprised to see such incredible production value behind these story beats. It made the short campaign worth it.
While exploring the Sky Realm and fighting stuff, I also had to manage my party but Granblue Fantasy: Relink has a large focus on the end-game experience which I will explain shortly. I could take control of any character by slotting them into the first party slot and every fighter has a unique skill set and play style.
At launch, there are over 20 playable characters. Only a handful appear in the main story but you can play with whoever you want. Any additional characters simply won’t show during cutscenes. I was surprised to see how detailed each character is. We are talking about an entirely unique play style with its own weapons, skills, upgrade paths and even interchangeable dialogue between other party members.
There’s also gear to find, level up and a unique Sigils system that adds buffs to your play style. Some increase health, some double up as health and stun buffs and later Sigils can take one character and turn them into something entirely different.
Don’t get me wrong here. I won’t say Granblue Fantasy: Relink has the best loot system because it doesn’t. There are only a handful of weapons for each character but there are over twenty characters so this is forgiven.
Characters can be unlocked using Crewmate Cards. These are earned in the main story, through side quests and in various other ways once you finish the game. Vaseraga, for example, is a scythe-wielding knight of death who uses various dark attack skills to deal damage. I unlocked him first. Again, while I could control him and even have him fight alongside my party in the story, he wasn’t seen in any of the cutscenes. That’s because all of those are pre-rendered and revolve around the main cast.
All characters are then playable in the Quests Mode which is where Granblue Fantasy: Relink wants you to spend most of the time. This mode makes up the game’s end-game content and is filled with challenging quests, more difficulty modes, gear to earn and hundreds of levels to gain for each of the characters. It is a big time sink.
While the story has some content to get through, the end-game is where RPG fans will bathe in stat crunching, resource-gathering and monster fighting in order to get through all the various tiers of difficulty on offer. Each character can level up to 100 and each of the various weapons they find can also be levelled up to 150.
Not to mention the large skill tree available for each character, Fate Episodes which are short story-based chapters on each character, and the ability to fine-tune your party to take out the strongest bosses in the game.
What I did enjoy about the Granblue Fantasy: Relink end-game was how diverse it was. The majority of the boss fights were new monsters I had yet to see in the campaign. The real tough fights relied on perfect character builds and a refined team to overcome. It also has an online co-op mode which is fantastic content to play with a friend too.
Again, we are talking about over twenty characters to grow, with more being added later down the line. So while the story was a bit short for my liking, I expect the end-game to offer countless hours of entertainment.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink packs a short and sweet story campaign. However, the end game is where all the fun awaits. The various difficulty modes offer hours of grinding which is perfect considering the excellent cast of playable characters. If you’re looking for a good old fantasy game where you enjoy stat crunching and explosive magic battles, Granblue Fantasy: Relink should definitely be on your radar.
This Granblue Fantasy: Relink review is based on a copy we purchased for review. The game is now available on PS5, PS4 and PC.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink
Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a well-crafted JRPG that comes with a short but sweet story and a robust and in-depth end-game experience worth sinking time into.