REVIEW – Cygames’ game is one of the fair (and new!) titles of the year from January, although depending on the time zone it might have been released in some on the first of February, but never mind. The IP, which also appears in the fighting game genre, has also made its mark in RPGs, and mostly only positive things can be said about it. There’s something ridiculous about it, but if you want to invest a few dozen hours in an RPG, this is the way to go.
A grand adventure in the skies awaits! Form a party of four from a diverse roster of skyfarers and slash, shoot, or hex your way to victory against treacherous foes in this action-RPG. Take on quests solo or with the help of others in up to 4-player co-op!
In a team
The airship Grandcypher is attacked by a giant dragon (Bahamut), blocking the sun, scraping the deck, and then in a desperate maneuver, the pilot steers the plane into the dragon’s chest. Although this is a sequel to a ten-year-old mobile game, you don’t need to know it, and it’s good that Cygames’ product doesn’t expect you to know the IP. We then crash to the ground with our partner Lyria, fight off the Primal Beasts, and then find ourselves in the middle of a doomsday cult because they just needed a companion from the deck. We see character development through the Fate Episodes, but these are narrated texts with some side missions. These are forgettable, although the characters themselves can be exciting if you are inclined to care about them. This would be perhaps the biggest negative of GFR (it will be written down properly in the end…): you could almost call the story trash.
No joke, this aspect is what brings it down from a pretty high score! Of course, there are a lot of RPGs on the market, but here it seems that the developers (or rather the writers) didn’t really put much effort into it. That’s not why it’s worth playing, and the story isn’t that present in the gameplay, but the characters could have been brought over from the mobile game to give them some depth, because if the basic material is there, it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to use it. It’s more the combat that’s interesting. You can go into battle with three comrades and choose from twenty unlockable team members to create combos with weaker and stronger sword attacks and also use abilities. Who’s good at what and how to use them varies from character type to character type, but timing is equally important for all. For those who hate button-mashing, Lancelot is not for you. The combat is great, fluid and dynamic, and on the hardest levels you really have to do everything with precision. It doesn’t get boring, and the boss fights aren’t something you just go for, and they’re good because they’re a way to test your mastery of certain elements of combat.
If you’re not playing with friends (because you can, and that’s a plus), the AI can keep you in the game most of the time, although it can get on your nerves towards the end. It’s nice not to have to carry everyone on your back alone, and everyone has access to a strip (to spend) to activate a larger area attack. You can also observe the personalities of the characters through the voices they make during combat. It’s a minimal element, not very important by default, but it plays a significant role in the atmosphere. You could say how this differs from Monster Hunter… well, the focus here is not on monster hunting, and the visual style is slightly different.
Quests are unlocked even after the core story, repeated quests provide rarer materials to tune weapons and ability sigils. These are good. The skill tree is not. It seems perhaps overly long, and there are few options for tuning your character to what you are good at. So it feels more like a forced extra that is only there as a mandatory feature. This would probably be the game’s other major flaw, as Cygames seems to have run out of steam here as well. And yet we find ourselves trying to complete mission after mission, maybe even one more. And that means that this is not a weak game, but rather one of the sleeper hits of the year, i.e. an underrated success, and therefore the rating is something that it deserves…
Is it recommended to buy Granblue Fantasy: Relink? Yes, if you have someone to play with and you like the RPG genre. The soundtrack also features a certain Nobuo Uematsu, and all we need to say is Final Fantasy. No wonder the music is great. So is the game. If the story wasn’t so forgettable, it would get a nine. But no, it only gets an eight and a half. But it’s an 8.5 with the strength of a 9. So it’s good, and with so many characters you can make any combination, depending on your play style, and it’s even more fun with friends.
+ Many characters can form many diverse teams
+ The fights
+ Uematsu’s music can’t be complained about
– Root story
– The skill tree
– Underutilization of the characters’ background
Style: Action RPG
Release: January 31, 2024.