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A Living World: The Inconsequential Stories of Granblue Fantasy Relink

Granblue Fantasy Relink features a 15-20 hour story (as long as you’re hunting for chests, slimes, and crabs) full of excitement, set pieces, and secrets.

But between blowing up towering robots and hurrying across chasms filling with lava, the crew (and player) get to rest in one of the game’s two hubs: Folca, a calm, relaxing rural town, or Seedhollow, a bustling city of markets and manors.

Each one is dressed in astounding detail and color. Seedhollow is resplendent in its reds and greens. Folca is cozy with its well-trodden roads. And both appreciate beautiful blue skies and sunny days. Plentiful nooks and crannies offer no other purpose than to look beautiful (well, sometimes they hide a chest or a party member), with views of distant villages dotting floating islands, or sky ships taking off from port. Cats slink along walls. Children practice the sword. And all the while life goes on.

From the demo, my brother and I took to exploring Folca while waiting for other friends to log in and try out the side quests. It was then we realized the abundance of things to see. The boy in the square, practicing his sword, has an animation loop that’s almost a minute long. Two children playing in the pond have a surprising amount of dialogue, and every minute of it is endearing (“Tidal wave!”). It certainly helps that the music is absolutely beautiful, but it’s the chatter and natural sounds that really bring it to life.

I’ll be honest, lots of this is going to sound minor and silly—after all, Granblue Fantasy Relink isn’t the first game in which birds fly away at your approach.

But the birds in Relink don’t just head up into the sky until they phase out of existence. They go somewhere. You can see them up on stone walls, or cross the clearing.

Granblue Fantasy Relink

Citizens cross the town, old men with canes at a crawl, adults as if they have something to do. A mixture of Harven, Draph, and humans lounge around on chairs, call out simple lines, and otherwise add to the feeling that Folca is a real place. This isn’t a game world torn down to nothing, that skips on making towns because making towns feel alive is expensive. Folca is rich with money spent and artists paid for even the smallest detail.

My favorite of these details is the stories that are being told. After every story mission, something is a little different around Folca (and later, around Seedhollow).

The first hint of this storytelling showed up in the demo as we explored every inch of Folca. At a water wheel, we found an Erune man waiting for his girlfriend, wondering why she was late and thinking about the things he wanted to tell her. Then we found another water wheel, where the girlfriend was waiting for him.

A cute little story on its own, but then the game came out. We ran about Folca after a bit of story progression and found their places had swapped. Their dialogue had changed. “She’s not here either.”

He just wanted to tell her he would protect her (responding to current events in the game at the time).

Well, after a couple more swaps and a few more chapters, I’m happy to report that the couple did find each other. And that they managed to set up a double date with another couple.

At the water wheel.

Now they wait for their friends, wondering where they are. While their friends wonder the same thing at the other water wheel.

On the other side of town, a group of friends consider the damage the antagonists have inflicted on Seedhollow. One of them plans to move there to help. He’d already been hoping to move for a change of pace, but now he had the motivation to do it.

And after another story chapter, he does. He’s no longer in Folca. He’s in Seedhollow, speaking with a woman about how he’d love to show her the beautiful town he came from one day.

Well, that wasn’t the end of it. As we progressed in the post-game, we kept checking in on them. Now, his friends back in Folca wonder if he’ll come back soon—and wonder if he’ll have a bride in tow. And the gentleman in question is double-checking with his lady friend to make sure they have everything they need for the trip.

Granblue Fantasy Relink

These side stories aren’t quests. They, and others like them, such as a little girl watching a will-they-won’t-they dance between another couple, are completely superfluous dialogues that provide no gameplay impact whatsoever.

It’s just story-telling for the sake of story-telling, and all the more reason Granblue Fantasy Relink feels so alive.

If you haven’t taken the time to explore Seedhollow and Folca fully, then I highly recommend giving Relink’s world another look.

If you’d like to read more about my thoughts on Granblue Fantasy Relink, then check out my initial piece gushing about the game.

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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