Granblue Fantasy: Relink, the latest installment in the beloved series, has arrived with a bang, proving that even after ten years, it can still deliver incredible content. This chaotic and captivating experience takes players on a thrilling journey, though the story and characters may occasionally feel familiar. Nevertheless, Relink shines through its stunning visuals and exceptional gameplay, making it a must-play for fans and newcomers alike.

The Western release of Granblue Fantasy has had its fair share of quirks. While the original mobile game never made its way overseas, the anime and some manga adaptations did. The previous entries that did reach Western shores, Granblue Fantasy: Versus and its sequel, Granblue Fantasy: Versus: Rising, were more focused on fighting games rather than traditional RPGs. This makes Granblue Fantasy: Relink a highly anticipated console RPG for fans, and it certainly lives up to the expectations.

The storyline in Granblue Fantasy: Relink may be relatively short, but it never overstays its welcome. Most players will find themselves engrossed in the game's co-op and post-game content. Without revealing too much, the single-player narrative follows the crew of the Grandcypher as they embark on a quest to rescue a fellow crew member, battle Primal Gods, and confront the Church of Avia. While the plot may appear formulaic, reminiscent of the Final Fantasy games that inspired it, Granblue Fantasy: Relink excels in its presentation. The game's stunning visuals and seamless gameplay make up for any lack of originality.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink offers a surprisingly deep and engaging spin on a well-known franchise. The gameplay is divided into two main aspects: the continuation of the original Granblue Fantasy storyline, introducing both new and familiar characters and plots, and standalone episodes and missions that can be played solo or in co-op. As someone who played through these episodes alone, I can confidently say they are still immensely enjoyable. These bite-sized adventures not only provide a welcome break between story chapters but also offer valuable rewards such as upgrade materials, stat boosts, and unlocking more Sigil slots. They are a perfect way to strengthen your characters and have a blast while doing so.

The combat in Granblue Fantasy: Relink starts off simple but gradually becomes more intricate and satisfying as you unlock new abilities and face increasingly challenging bosses. The game introduces Link Attacks and Bursts, which can be strategically employed to maximize damage. While the action-RPG combat may seem standard at first, it quickly becomes frenetic and exhilarating. With a wide array of characters to choose from, battles never feel repetitive. For example, Gran, a traditional hack-and-slash fighter, can be contrasted with Eugen, whose combat style transforms the game into an intense over-the-shoulder third-person shooter.

One of the most enjoyable moments in the game was blasting goblins with a shotgun and tossing bombs while exploring a mine shaft. This kind of gameplay is not typically found in high fantasy RPGs, and it's just one of the many delightful surprises Granblue Fantasy: Relink has in store. Early on, players find themselves engaged in an epic battle against enemy airships, firing cannons, boarding the ships, and eliminating waves of enemies to destroy their engines. This was the moment I realized how much fun I was having.

For those interested in Granblue Fantasy: Relink, the mobile/browser title, Granblue Fantasy, is also worth exploring. It offers years' worth of additional content to delve into, providing an even deeper connection to the game's world.

Further into the game, players encounter a boss fight in the desert, where they must dismantle a gigantic golem piece by piece. Sliding across dunes, hitting speed-boosting portals, bombarding airships through captivating cutscenes, and climbing the colossal boss to reach its core are just a few of the thrilling elements at play. Granblue Fantasy: Relink constantly surprises and delights, ensuring that combat is not the only aspect it excels in - its aesthetics are equally remarkable.

If there's one flaw worth mentioning, it lies in the game's heavy reliance on farming materials and various currencies to enhance characters. Upgrading weapons and Sigils demands numerous materials, gems, and gold, sometimes necessitating repetitive boss fights or mindlessly clearing waves of enemies. While this may not be an issue in co-op mode, solo players might find it tedious.

While the story in Granblue Fantasy: Relink may not break new ground, its exceptional combat mechanics prove that the game is not just relying on its good looks. It will be fascinating to see how the game's longevity unfolds in the post-game phase, especially as more players join the adventure and co-op experiences become more prevalent. Even in the early months of 2024, Granblue Fantasy: Relink has already established itself as one of the best RPGs of the year.

(Note: This article is based on a PlayStation 5 code provided by the publisher,and the experience may vary depending on the platform and personal preferences.)

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