Try as I might, I’ve never been someone who could fully immerse herself in the land of MMOs. There are too many things to do, for one, and I’ve always been one for playing RPGs in my lonesome. But Granblue Fantasy: Relink, an MMOlite nearly one decade in the making, threw me for a pleasant loop.
Here’s my honest review of Granblue Fantasy: Relink.
The biggest draw of Granblue Fantasy: Relink is its gameplay. It plays so damn smoothly. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of playing Final Fantasy XVI, this ARPG’s controls are that fluid.
While you’re not exactly free to build your own character ala-MMO, Relink does provide you with a ton of characters to play as. Whether you’re a big spear buff or prefer to snipe enemies from afar, there is a right “main” for you.
The only real is how you’re not able to switch characters midbattle—but I suppose that’s why it’s an MMO(lite)!
Speaking of its MMO-ness, Relink also lets you play with your chosen playable character online. You can enter a party of up to four and take on challenging side quests. They require tactics, coordination, and real-time timings that only humans can input. In fact, some of these quests, you will never be able to complete with CPUs (which are quite good in this game).
This is practically MMO for those who’ve never played them before but want to test the waters first. It’s styled like an MMO (though clearable solo) but encourages you to matchmake for harder content.
Look at this artstyle. It’s amazing. It’s anime, sure, but stylized in such a unique, drawn-comic way. In fact, Granblue Fantasy: Relink’s style reminds me of Valkyria Chronicles, which continues to be one of the best games I know. Yes, I spend my cutscenes appreciating the environment’s shading and colors—but so what?
Here’s where things get a little murky for me. Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a game with 10 or so chapters and a main story that can be completed in less 20 hours.
The problem lies with how expansive the world is. There isn’t enough time to focus on each of the characters, their motivations, and the places they explore. The story is severely lacking because of this, which is such a shame, as the characters (all 20+ of them) are all such interesting people.
There is also so much lore written for all your visited areas that are locked to a Journal. You can read them light novel style. And as much as I love my novels, I’m here to play—not read.
As a sucker for found family, I absolutely love the cast of Granblue Fantasy: Relink. I love seeing Eugen, the father with an estranged daughter, and the protagonist, who is missing their father, interact. I love watching Rosetta observe the people who accepted her despite her origins. The problem is, again, the lack of time to explore these dynamics.
Instead of watching these people develop into fully-fleshed characters, the story starts you off near the end of your journey. You’re then given “Fate Episode” to read (not even watch!) if you want to explore their backstories and see what they do between main story quests.
And isn’t that so sad? To have your background be footnotes for one girl’s story. It’s a waste of good characters.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk about Granblue Fantasy: Relink’s OST; because it’s great. It features dynamic scores, a trend I wish more games would adapt. It’s when the music arrangement perfectly lines with the action instead of playing a steady melody in one area.
For example, it changes when a teammate is downed, mutes when YOU are downed, and enters a crescendo during important moments.
Music helps build a game’s narrative, which Relink does very well at.
Verdict: A good MMO-like game for those who’ve never played the genre
If you’re iffy to try MMOs, Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a good introductory game. It’s an offline MMO with content you can clear alone. It introduces you to different classes and races, providing you with an opportunity to try different loadouts and builds.
Once you’re comfortable with the format, you can tag team with other players to challenge difficult bosses and other quests.
However, since Relink does lean into the “MMO”ness of it and not the single player JRPG experience, there is a distinct lack of story and character development. No shade to MMOs that DO excel at those of course (like Final Fantasy XIV), but this game just doesn’t have that much time nor story content in it to be that fleshed out.
A free copy of the game was provided to PGG by the publisher for review purposes.