I’ll admit, I was completely unfamiliar with the Granblue series before I saw Granblue Fantasy: Relink shown off at one of Sony’s State of Play events last year, but that was enough to leave me excited to check out Cygames’ JRPG adventure. It has quickly stood out as an early 2024 hit too, with my lack of knowledge of the series not stopping me from having a blast embarking on its rich fantasy adventure.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Granblue Fantasy: Relink puts players in the role of the captain of an airship known as the Grandcypher, who leads their sky-faring crew across the vast Sky Realm in search of the fabled island of Estalucia. Unfortunately, things take a sour turn when you encounter the Church of Avia, who kidnap one of your crew after believing she holds great power. Of course, you won’t let her go without a fight, so you venture across the land to bring her back. I’m putting things in a nutshell there just to keep details to a minimum, but what follows is an entertaining adventure that’ll keep players invested until the very end thanks to the quick-paced story beats and wonderful writing. There’s a LOT going on in the game and there are a LOT of characters that become part of your journey (and the game does like to put a LOT of plot exposition into cutscenes), but everything feels like it has an important place in the overall narrative.

Oh, and for those unfamiliar with Granblue? You won’t feel out of the loop, with the game not only being standalone in design, but also featuring special instances known as Fate Episodes that flesh out the narrative of characters who play a bigger role in the overall series. It HAS even inspired me to check out the anime in the future, so don’t be surprised if it hooks you in too.

One of the things that I liked the most about Granblue Fantasy: Relink is the fact that it streamlines the RPG experience down to focus on its strengths as opposed to trying to pad it out with needless exploration and battling. I beat it in around twenty hours after getting stuck into a lot of the side stuff, and whilst there were still some things I didn’t finish, I felt like I’d got to experience the bulk of the game’s most significant content. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of the genre and love a meaty RPG that’ll absorb all of my time, but the more focused approach it embraces ensures that players can invest their time in the things that the game does right without drawing out the storytelling or forcing players to grind.

“I know that the PlayStation 5 has a few high-profile RPGs releasing in early 2024, but honestly, if you’re a fan of the genre, you REALLY won’t want to skip Granblue Fantasy: Relink.”

And believe me, Granblue Fantasy: Relink gets a LOT right. The combat is enthralling, with the game taking an action-RPG approach that focuses on stringing together effective button-mashing combos with your characters, all whilst picking the right moment to utilise one of their skills to varying effects ranging from dealing damage, applying de-buffs, or supporting your party. You’ll also have to dodge out of the way of incoming attacks or parry them if you get the timing right, whilst those who time their actions effectively and maintain a safe distance between attacks will ensure their health doesn’t whittle down too much. There are a TON of characters to utilise in combat too, with each bringing something different to the battle that help fulfil different roles for the party. So far, so action-RPG, right?

Well, the enemies you battle also have a stun meter that builds up as you unleash damage upon them – when filled, players can then strike out with a Link Attack that sees each character in the party working together to dish out some hurt. This is effective on its own, but if you unleash multiple link attacks and build up your party’s Link Level, you’ll eventually slow down time and go on a rampant attacking spree against your enemy. It’s a satisfying way to handle some of the game’s more perilous enemies, but also adds an additional element of strategy to combat that encourages players to continually keep the pressure on foes.

Characters also have a special ability known as a Skybound Art, which is activated when the meter associated with said character builds up in combat. Much like the Link Attacks, these are effective abilities that deal additional damage to foes, but if the player unleashes the Skybound Art of multiple characters at once, they’ll activate a Chain Burst which is even more destructive and effective. Whilst this isn’t necessarily the most original mechanic seen in an RPG, utilising it in a more team-based fashion rewards players who are patient and strategic with their combat approach.

It makes for a wonderful combat system that keeps things simple, but greatly rewards players who take full advantage of the different mechanics it has at play. It also helps that the battles themselves are thrilling, with the boss encounters especially standing out as a treat. Not only are they fiercer with their move variety and can cause a LOT of harm when they enter their Overdrive state, but they also look absolutely fantastic with a mixture of creative creature designs and overwhelming size ensuring each encounter is memorable. They bring with them plenty of chaotic set pieces that ensure the excitement never stops, with Granblue Fantasy: Relink rarely slowing the action down.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Of course, it wouldn’t be an RPG without towns or cozy locales to explore, so there are moments of peace in-between the dungeon-crawling and enemy slaying. There’s plenty of customisation, crafting, and weapon upgrading to be done too, whilst there’s no shortage of side quests to complete. You know how I mentioned that the game is fairly short? Well, those who want it to last longer will find PLENTY to get stuck into when it comes to side quests, especially in the post-game. A lot of these don’t feel pivotal to the overall plot of the game, but they’ll keep you coming back if you want to build up your party to take on the game’s greatest challenges.

Better yet, those side missions can be completed in online co-op, giving an even bigger reason to stick with the game post-completion. Whilst the main story isn’t multiplayer, being able to experience the thrilling battling of the game through the side quests in co-op does feel like a treat, and hey, having friends help you out will DEFINITELY make some of the more difficult post-game challenges a lot easier. It’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time playing online, but what I have experienced has been a whole lot of fun.

I can’t end this review without mentioning how pretty the game is, with Granblue Fantasy: Relink’s world wonderfully designed with some magnificent locales to admire that really embrace the game’s anime-like approach. Whilst it can be a little rough around the edges (especially since the 60fps Performance Mode limits the display to 1080p), the vibrant aesthetic and creative character and enemy designs ensure players will constantly be in awe of the visuals.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink Review

Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a wonderful RPG that offers a tantalising narrative, wonderful visuals, and epic action-orientated battling. I found myself completely hooked in from the moment I started playing, whilst the streamlined approach ensures that the adventure feels perfectly paced and never forces players to grind. And don’t worry – even those who haven’t heard of Granblue before will be able to appreciate it’s storytelling.

I know that the PlayStation 5 has a few high-profile RPGs releasing in early 2024, but honestly, if you’re a fan of the genre, you REALLY won’t want to skip Granblue Fantasy: Relink.

Developer: Cygames
Publisher: Cygames
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC
Website: https://relink.granbluefantasy.jp/en/