With Granblue Fantasy: Relink, the latest RPG from Cygames, around the corner, a demo has been released for PlayStation consoles that allows you to experience a small snippet of the story along with its multiplayer questing mode. As someone excited for the full release but, ultimately, unsure how the game will play, I’m grateful for the opportunity to get hands-on time with it. The demo includes a basic tutorial and allows you to unlock in-game items that will carry over to the main game by clearing the demo’s single-player mission and three quests. I tested the game on PlayStation 5 and it took me about one hour to clear, but what’s there does offer replayability to get a better idea if it’ll be worth it to dive in when Granblue Fantasy Relink releases on PS5, PS4, and Windows on January 29th, 2024. As such, let’s break down the demo in further detail, shall we?

Early Impressions

As someone who has been aware of Granblue Fantasy but never experienced the mobile game or anime, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this console release, especially since the game changed hands from Platinum Games to Cygame’s in-house studio after years of development. What I can say is that the game seems much deeper than your traditional anime game and looks to offer more than just a single-player experience/story. After you complete the tutorial, you can tackle a small portion of the story that sees your character, Gran by default but referred to by other characters as “Captain”, along with a party of three other NPCs rescue villages from goblins. This section allows you to explore what looks to be level or zone-based areas with items and chests found about and culminates in a boss fight after clearing several goblin locations.

Moving about the locations was fairly straightforward and allowed two primary paths, both of which you had to embark on but in any order. Where the game truly shined was the boss fight and this is a common theme I found with the demo, more on that later. As for the moment-to-moment, Granblue Fantasy: Relink is an action RPG. You can chain combos together with square and triangle inputs and you have up to four skills assigned to R1 + the face buttons that are on cool-downs. As for your party, the NPCs engage in combat with you and offer access to special chain combos if executed within the same time frame. Once I got the hang of it, timing attack with the party was fairly natural and I could see how performing this in co-op would elevate the experience. As the demo is very early on, the combat didn’t offer a large amount of variety but we’re missing access to additional skill options and equipment that I expect will change this. Overall, I came away from my first experience fairly optimistic that, at the bare minimum, Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a competent action game with a lot of thought put into its various systems to keep the flow of combat engaging.

Monster Hunter-like Questing

After completing the story section, the demo offers three repeatable quests you can play, which looks to be the real meat of Granblue Fantasy: Relink. Within this mode, you enter a hub-like area that you, along with other players if you play co-op, can navigate to shops and a quest board to select missions to journey out on, an experience very similar to Monster Hunter. The demo offers two types of missions: Horde, where you fight waves of enemies, and Bosses. Different from Monster Hunter, these mission types are exactly as they’re stated, throwing you in an arena-sized map along with the specified enemies so there wasn’t any exploration involved, however, this could be different in the full release. Where I had the most fun was with the Boss battles in both the single-player missions and the quests. This was because the bosses, while very tanky, offer an almost MMO-style experience where you’re forced to watch for telegraphed attacks and dodge AOEs. The three bosses throughout the demo all felt very deliberately designed and I can see myself losing hours to playing these, especially online. Gearing up and joining a party looks to be the main way to experience this portion but it can be played with your NPC party, as well. My main hope is that the full game will offer a large variety of diverse missions and maybe something akin to raids, something that the mobile game also features.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, after my hour with the demo, I came away from Granblue Fantasy: Relink even more optimistic than I already was. Releasing so close to several important JRPGs, I was afraid this game would get lost in the shuffle but it’s moved up my priority list and I expect it should offer a diverse gameplay experience upon the full release. Between having a full story mode, interesting boss design, and a Monster Hunter-style questing system, there’s a lot to unpack when Granblue Fantasy: Relink releases on January 29th, 2024 and I’m looking forward to it.