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Granblue Fantasy: Relink review

An airship crew with an unquenchable thirst for exploration flying through an endless sky: Granblue Fantasy has always had the perfect setting for an RPG, but the original mobile game only hinted at the wide open breadth and potential of its sunny world. Relink fully owns that potential, expertly capturing the feeling of going on an epic adventure with an upbeat bunch of friends. Verdant islands magically float within a sea of fluffy clouds, lush dappled forests brim with life, and mighty beasts practically beg for a heroic party to come and vanquish them.

Need to know

What is it? A popular long-running F2P mobile game brought to glorious ARPG life
Expect to pay £49.99/$59.99
Developer Cygames, Inc.
Publisher Cygames, Inc.
Reviewed on Intel i9-13900HX, GeForce RTX 4080 (laptop), 16GB RAM
Multiplayer? Yes
Steam Deck Unsupported
Link Official website

Relink is a spectacular game.

I loved it even though I haven’t been diligently keeping up with the F2P mobile game’s story over the past decade. No knowledge of Cygame’s long-running hit is expected or required. This action RPG, which I can enjoy alone or cooperatively with friends, sets sail for new lands filled with new friends and new enemies—the only thing anyone really needs to know is where to point their party’s swords and spells.

Relink barely gave me a second to ponder its optional lore anyway before plunging me into one breathtaking battle after another. It’s a fast-paced and focused game, chapters whisking me away somewhere new every hour or so before building up to a dramatic ending with a novel twist. One particularly memorable climax played out like all of my wildest Monster Hunter/Metal Gear Rising fantasies combined, giving me the chance to take down a gigantic adversary piece by piece.

It was supposed to be a simple mission—go in, get the treasure, and leave. Nobody mentioned that treasure was protected by a towering colossus buried beneath the sands, or that this mighty guardian was armed with laser death beams and was so huge I had to start the fight by chipping away at its ankle defences to get to the juicy glowing parts inside. And even after I’d done that it was all looking a bit desperate until the air support bristling with guns came in and… did basically nothing other than explode, conveniently dislodging a few still-functional turrets for me to use down at ground level. The fight just kept outdoing itself, layering on more and more adrenaline-fuelled setpiece moments.

Was I really going to have to make a mad dash up its temporarily prone body? Yes. Was I seriously going to get thrown high into the air afterwards, and have to slide vertically down the same arm cannon I just saw casually obliterate an airship—while it’s still firing? Yes. Was I practically vibrating with excitement while finally standing face-to-face with its vulnerable core, more than ready to finish the damned thing off? YES. If the smile I’d been wearing for the previous 20 minutes had got any bigger, I’m sure my face would’ve split in two. I was in action RPG heaven.

And I stayed there. No matter what the game put me through, from picking off packs of goblins to world-ending threats up in the skies, Relink always showed me a good time. Some of that’s down to cast, their gorgeous, pencil-textured, designs backed up by reactive battle dialogue that reinforces their personalities and dishes out genuinely helpful information at the same time. But most of it’s thanks to the fantastically fluid combat.

Relink wants me to not just play a hero but act like one too, charging into battle with a sword in my hands and friends by my side. Combat is fast, furious, and no matter if I’m playing as an armoured knight or a fireball-flinging mage, almost always done at close range. Combos are short and simple but emphasise flexibility and reactivity, making it easy to break off my own flurry of blows to assist an ally at a moment’s notice, or quickly block a magical blast that would have otherwise torn through my character’s health. MMO-like danger markers often fill the floor, indicating where barrages of ice magic, giant sword swings, or red-hot balls of fire are about to land, Relink daring me to perfectly time my dodges straight through potentially fatal blasts to keep my assault going.

Dishing out a few blows of my own was even more satisfying than perfectly dodging an attack that looked undodgeable. Some characters’ combos will do more damage with proper timing, and special moves can open up new attack opportunities, grant temporary invincibility, debuff enemies, or rapidly close the distance. And even though the game only has two basic attack buttons, fighting as a sword-swinging hero is nothing like taking control of a mage, gunslinger, or even another kind of sword-swinging hero. Every character’s personal quirks and unique skill trees make them stand apart.

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The hands-off AI permanently controlling the other three members of my team turned out to be surprisingly reliable, even when a one-eyed beast chaotically spewed ice beams everywhere that they had to dodge. I didn’t have to babysit a squishier character when an angry horde appeared out of nowhere, or worry that someone wasn’t going to trigger their devastating Skybound Art—essentially a charged-up super move capable of dealing thousands upon thousands of points worth of damage—in the short window to keep an attack chain going. It just worked.

Between the long list of characters and their even longer move lists, Relink is practically begging for extensive testing to find out which skills work best together in each character’s four skill slots. There was a danger Relink’s emphasis on combat would end up overwhelming, all the fun buried under layer after layer of intertwining systems. Thankfully concise explanations for absolutely everything are never far away: every menu is designed to give me as much information as possible with the least amount of effort.

The game soon settles into a comfortable loop, a gorgeous hub of a town offering shops, sidequests and a counter allowing me to take on a selection of increasingly difficult trials, some personal to specific characters, some designed to crush anything other than a finely tuned offline party or a coordinated group of online friends. Outside the hub, the story doesn’t waste time, dropping me off exactly where I need to be: either an enclosed battlefield or a tightly choreographed path full of monsters leading up to one. No matter where I was in the main story or the further adventures beyond it, it always felt like there was a world of exciting experiences just waiting for me to grasp them.

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Relink’s not just a great game that’s been polished until it shines—playing it actually made me happier. I was literally on the edge of my seat at times, cheering for my crew, and always thrilled whenever some monster with glowing body parts and giant claws dared to take us on. I never had to stop having fun to tediously grind for materials during the main story; I found the game balanced to carefully provide just (and only just) enough of everything I needed to keep pushing forward. When I did lose a battle, a quick restart followed by an attempt to focus and fight better always turned things around.

That balance shifts slightly after the credits have rolled and the post-game challenge really gets into gear, but even then I regularly took on fights I was supposedly underpowered for and still came out on top by keeping a cool head and using my skills wisely, instead of expecting my stats to protect me.

I honestly enjoyed every moment of Relink, and once I finished the main game the combat encounters blossomed into something even more wonderful than they already were. The designers clearly felt free to focus on creating tough trials for the sort of person still eager to battle even after the credits rolled. I want to wring every last delicious drop out of it, and play it again purely for the pleasure of getting to spend more time with it. Action RPGs this good should be praised to the skies.

The Verdict


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Granblue Fantasy: Relink

Relink offers fluid combat against inventive bosses in gorgeous landscapes—this is an essential ARPG.

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