The SEGA booth in ESGS 2023 featured well, their games. But three of them were what mostly caught my interest. Two of them would be Yakuza games, the other one is one that hasn’t given a playable build for us to try, until that day. That game would be Granblue Fantasy Relink.
Now, I’ve actually not played the turn-based version of Yakuza, which is actually called “Like a Dragon” in its English form. But I was pleasantly surprised with the crazy mini-games that the demo did not hesitate for me to try out. One of them is a throwback to Crazy Taxi, and the other one is a strange alternate universe of Pokemon Snap. Which does have its own charm.
As for “The Man That Erased His Name,” it feels like the usual fare of open-world brawler stuff that we’ve known the series for. Along with all the side activities, and definitely with all the zany side quests that we’ve come to expect from it. The twist so far is that as Kiryu you now have something of a James Bond movie set, where you incorporate the various gadgets and gizmos that we’ve seen in spy movies into his very discreet way of maintaining the peace on the streets with beatdowns out in the open. That one is currently in review.
What I did get to play, which I wasn’t allowed to record, is CyGames’ Granblue Fantasy Relink. And that’s what I’m going to tell you about today. The demo was more of a set of feature matches rather than what feels like the actual game content itself. You are asked to choose who you’ll play as and you are joined by a preset party, totaling a team of 4.
We go straight to combat and it shows you the ropes of the usual Light and Heavy attacks, dodging, and the use of skills. Dodging precisely gives you additional openings, but there will be cases where you just want to avoid areas like in boss fights in Final Fantasy 14.
The combat seems to slide between two types of games. One would be the rather manic, messy, and rather manageable combat of Dynasty Warriors, and the other would be something like Monster Hunter. When fighting mooks and weaker enemies, combat seems to be rather easy-going. But when getting to fighting bosses and giants, it’s pretty important to get hit as little as possible, as recovering from them can prove rather difficult, if not costly.
This becomes a bit of a problem when you’re not familiar with your enemy’s attacks and the system you’re trying to use. Thankfully the AI-controlled members of the party are capable of healing and can respond rather quickly. It does bother me a bit that the reliance on healing might be something you have to account for, as I’ve been used to games that make you focus much more on preventing getting damaged rather than mitigating it.
However, if you think about it, this is probably the best translation of the mobile game’s combat. As everyone suffers damage and is healed to keep them in the battle, much like most turn-based RPGs. Granblue Fantasy Relink in my opinion is trying to make the most direct translation of the original game into an action game and adds functions to keep it interesting. Much of which I was having a hard time grasping, as keeping track of the many things happening on the screen was already a challenge for me.
So, what do I think of GBF Relink so far? I’m more used to faster combat that relies on perfect dodges and getting heavily punished for mistakes. This title doesn’t seem interested in playing into the currently popular tropes of such action games. It makes me wonder if the experience will translate much better on online coop, as making link attacks and tracking your party’s status might not be as taxing when you have at least one more human fighting through the quests with you. The demo I got to try was purely featuring the combat that you’d get to experience, which I think was passable for what it’s trying to do. If it manages to have great content to play through, I believe this will be a genuinely good game to play.