Granblue Fantasy: Relink is going to impress new players | Hands-on preview

by on August 23, 2023

Thanks to the generosity of Cygames, I was lucky enough to spend a small chunk of time playing a passage from its forthcoming action-RPG, Granblue Fantasy: Relink, which is coming to PS5 and PS4 globally on February 1, 2024.

The core mobile RPG has a huge 35 million player fanbase, so this title is considered a big deal and will also be Cygames first real foray into the European market. It has been a long time coming, with a protracted gestation period that dates back to a collaboration between Platinum Games and Cygames back in 2016. With some of the former studio now part of Cygames, the influences of Platinum, from where designer Yasuyuki Kaji came from, are evident.

As an action role player with a focus on party-based multiplayer and spectacular chained attacks with your teammates, it can be played as a solo affair or with friends on or offline, with a variety of comfort options that are incredibly inclusive for all levels of player. An assist mode for fans of the mobile game or those that may find the kind of combo-based action a little intimidating can experience the story with a simplified game engine, but with the full story available.

If you want to play it as a complete action title, there are a huge number of RPG-style customisation options including upgrade paths with up to four unique skills assignable at any time, and the ability to customise your loadout of items, weapons, and skills before each stage. Weapons and Sigils can be equipped with a variety of helpful effects and traits that improve defence, attack, XP gained, and much more.

I played through the short demo available to us on the day as Arthurian Lord of Flames Percival, one of my favourites from Granblue Fantasy: Versus. 

Immediately I was taken by how much fun everything is. It moves along at a spectacular pace with a lot going on. It is very much reminiscent of the recent Tales title that we loved here at God Is A Geek, as well as feeling a little similar to some of the Koei hack-and-slash fun that I have experienced over the years.

It is intuitive and easy to get to grips with, with a handy on-screen display to show you how to pull off combos and deploy items, spells and suchlike. Battling across a stunning verdant landscape in the sky against all manner of lurching skeletal foes, the segment I played culminates in a boss battle against a giant skeleton behemoth, known as a Primal Beast, who takes a huge amount of punishment to defeat.

Immediately I could see that this game is really going to sing when playing in multiplayer, as your party of four can combine and link together for obscenely OTT attacks, comprising of taking turns to deliver Granblue mainstay Skybound Arts into Chain Bursts that see all four of you absolutely pile on the enemy in a dramatic one-sided onslaught. All the while there are nice little in-game challenges that pop up and offer you conditions or goals to take on – such as defeating the Primal Beast in five minutes or less.

The whole experience lasted around ten minutes but left me clamouring for more as I was ushered away from the console. It looks sublime, the music is absolutely incredible, and the amount of sheer bombast and ferocious action is something that I think a lot of people new to an IP relatively unknown in Europe are going to fall deeply for

With a grand, sweeping story promised, tonnes of stages (over 100!) and enemies to fight, and a huge selection of diverse characters, this is shaping up to be one of the best games of early 2024.