Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a real video game (and it's pretty fun, too)
Announced all the way back in 2016, it's been easy to wonder if Granblue Fantasy: Relink actually exists - however, for anyone that has had the chance to attend Anime Expo 2023, the game's existence is no longer in question; as Cygames has granted attendees a chance to play the latest demo build of the game. During the expo we took the chance to try the demo twice, with two different characters - Siegfried and Katalina.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink is an action RPG whose core gameplay loop revolves around cooperation; not only will the full game support up to 4-player co-op, but even when tackling the game solo mechanics like Link Attacks and Chain Bursts will tax players to work alongside their party members in order to more efficiently clear missions.
While we weren't able to test any of the RPG aspects of the game for the demo, we did get to put to proof Cygames' claim that characters themselves will play radically differently from each other; both Siegfried and Katalina had radically different gameplay styles, even if the core battle system remains the same regardless of the character played. Siegfried specializes in precision-timed attacks, where players perfectly timing attacks will not only strengthen their combo, but eventually allow for a unique finisher that can deal significant damage. Katalina's combo finishers will raise her unique Ares gauge, and upon being filled her commands will be buffed; allowing for a sort of metagame where players might want to save her SBA until her Ares gauge has been filled.
The demo itself tasked players with clearing an area of a group of enemies, before then being thrown into a boss fight against a Goblin Knight. If players managed to defeat the Goblin Knight within 5 minutes, they were then granted an additional Griffin boss to tackle. While both the Goblin Knight and the Griffin came with a unique set of attacks, the Griffin especially was a setpiece encounter.
If I were to describe Relink's combat; well, the most obvious comparison would be Monster Hunter. Instead of changing out weapons, however, each character themselves acts as a unique moveset, with players being able to level up and customize each member of their party individually. While you won't be able to swap characters on the fly in combat, players can swap which characters they'll tackle each mission with before loading in. During the Granblue Fantasy panel during the expo Cygames clarified that the game itself would not be an open-world, but rather divided up into linear missions and side quests that can be loaded into from the main hub.
In practice, Relink was a joy to play, and gameplay was fluid, responsive and a lot of fun to get to grips with. Most importantly, however, the game feels polished and the companies' claims that it's nearing completion feel much more believable now that we've had the chance to get our hands-on with the game for ourselves. The game looks incredible on PlayStation 5, and the entire presentation looks ready to go for launch; which, hopefully, should be later this year. Stay tuned for our further impressions as we get closer to launch!