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Granblue Fantasy Relink: 20 Hours of Adventure,100 Hours of Fun

Long, troubled development rarely turns out a gem in game-making, but Granblue Fantasy Relink happily bucks the trend, delivering a beautiful, exciting, and brilliant adventure. It feels like a game with eight-plus years of development. As every corner of starting-town Folca can attest, there is a gratuitous amount of detail. From the tiniest stories hidden around the hubs to the sheer depth of combat customization, Granblue Fantasy Relink never stops surprising.

And I’m not sure it ever will.

I’m about a hundred hours deep now, well past the main story (about twenty hours of adventure) and have finally reached the post-post game grind. Even now, there’s more to do, more to discover, and more to enjoy. To the chagrin of Persona 3 Reload (and likely Final Fantasy VII Rebirth), it’s unlikely I’ll be pulling myself away any time soon.

Full disclosure: I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time with Granblue Fantasy. It started with the original Granblue Fantasy Versus’ co-op mode. After that, enough of the browser game to get me over rank 250. And, just last year, some Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising (for better or worse).

Which is to say, I know the characters, lore, and world intimately. I followed Relink’s development closely, cheering when they brought in fringe picks like Ghandagoza and fan-favorites like Cagliostro. I’m thrilled that Seofon and Tweyen are coming in April (especially since Seofon is now carrying my Subaha runs), and I’m horrified of what Lucifer will do to me in March.

In other words, when Granblue Fantasy Relink dropped me perhaps unceremoniously into its story and world, I wasn’t the least bit lost. That’s a definite advantage, but the greater advantage is having low expectations for the story.

Look, Granblue Fantasy has some fantastic character design and writing, but plot is rarely its strong suit. Outside of a few side stories (such as The Magnificent Mole Troupe) and character fate episodes (anything with Vikala), it can be a mess. Most of that has to do with being a ten-year-old gacha game. Some of that simply has to do with the way the stories are told. If you’ve played Versus’s story mode, you might know what I mean.

Granblue Fantasy Relink

But being a triple-A action RPG means Granblue Fantasy Relink doesn’t have to rely on talking busts and drab narration. We get to experience the action. We get to see the danger. And we get to feel the emotions much more acutely.

Granblue Fantasy Relink’s story isn’t phenomenal for where it goes, but for how it gets there. No, we don’t get to make an emotional connection with the new characters before the credits. And no, there’s no growth for any of the pre-existing cast. But the set pieces, cinematography, voice acting, and music elevate Granblue Fantasy Relink’s tale and make it memorable.

I had to constantly recalibrate my expectations. The opening boss fight showed me things would be different. The non-linear stages trained me to look into every corner. And the time I jumped into a mech to defend against a pair of bosses showed me that, even near the end, Granblue Fantasy Relink wasn’t done surprising.

There’s so much praise I want to lavish on Granblue Fantasy Relink that I doubt I can do it all in one article. So I’m going to do it in several. I’ll explore the minutia in the main towns that are easily missed. I’ll examine the title as an adaptation of a historied browser game. And I’ll be looking at what makes the co-op such a blast—even if getting to the meat of it requires everyone do some single-player homework.

If you’re hoping for a review, with a score, and an idea of whether or not Granblue Fantasy Relink is for you, then I’m sorry to disappoint. What I can tell you is that the story is plenty of fun on its own, with hidden secrets to hunt down and exciting boss fights to survive. You may not get attached to the characters without making some effort (Lyria’s Journal and Fate Episodes will tell you everything you need to know about Primal Gods, moon denizens, and monster fish, and do a better job than the browser game at doing it), but I expect you will spend plenty of your time at the edge of your seat anyway.

I can also tell you that there are about a hundred side quests. Twenty of them are unlocked during the course of the story, though they’re a poor glimpse into how the co-op works due to being underscaled relative to the campaign (which you have to play to unlock them in the first place). All of them can be enjoyed with four players, and they scratch a real Monster Hunter itch for those who like to prep for every fight.

It’s been three weeks since early access began. There’s no doubt I’m still riding a Granblue high. But the last game that arrested my attention this much was Eldin Ring, and we all know how that turned out (It was an absolute winner, and just like Granblue Fantasy Relink, only more-so with friends!).

So, to recap, it’s beautiful. It’s big. And it’s clearly a labor of love. Whether you’re looking for a new co-op game to play with your friends or a single-player adventure filled with stunning set pieces, you’ll be more than pleased with Granblue Fantasy Relink.

About Michael

Brutal Gamer's Nintendo Editor spends an endless amount of time on his Switch (when he isn't lost in the mountains), dreaming of the return of 1080, F-Zero, and Custom Robo.

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