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Granblue Fantasy: Relink keeps crashing, but I've enjoyed the 9 hours I've managed so far

Odds of saving the world and/or finishing my review are thus diminished

The player character, the Captain, in Granblue Fantasy: Relink, preparing to fight a boss character.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Cygames

The review embargo for fantastical sky-pirates JRPG Granblue Fantasy: Relink just lifted, ahead of its release tomorrow, and I was on review duty. Alas, I have no review to lay at your feet, because the game booted once as soon as I got it, then didn't work for about five days, and for the rest of this week has booted at a ratio of about 1:8 of successful boot to attempts to boot. It has also crashed twice during cutscenes. It's a shame, because I've quite enjoyed the bits that I have played (which amount to about half of the campaign, in single player). As a cross section of the three of us who have the game, one hasn't been able to boot it at all, and it works apparently perfectly for the other - and we tested both the retail build and the review build. I can't speak to what your odds will be if you get it, but sure, if it works, you'll have a fun enough time, probably?

A side effect of the tech problems we've had is that we haven't been able to play multiplayer, which is a big part of the game. The adventure - which is very charmingly earnest, involves giant transforming elemental spirits going off their rockers and a religious cult, and has dialogue choices where you pick which way to say you're going to save innocent people - is undertaken by a large crew, but you only take four of them into your squad when you're fighting. With a co-op group, the other three are controlled by humans. In single-player they're controlled by an AI that will, about half the time, stand them in a huge AOE boss attack indicator.

The Captain character performing their special attack in Granblue Fantasy: Relink
A boss fight in Granblue Fantasy: Relink, where a spirit called Furycane is preparing for a massive AOE attack
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Cygames

This is kind of not a problem, though, because the combat is easy enough that it falls into the action RPG category. As in, say, Diablo 4, you can mow down the mobs of fozen skeletons and goblins coming at you pretty quickly, especially if you've remembered to upgrade your weapons regularly. You make numbers pop out of enemies until they disappear. It grinds to a halt a bit in boss fights because, while I like the boss designs so far, they're basically bullet sponges to force you to understand the deeper parts of the combat system.

The character select screen in Granblue Fantasy: Relink, showing Rosetta, a rose-themed magical character
My favourite is Rosetta, who is a useful DPS character and went to the Lulu from FFX haus of combat couture. | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Cygames

In the regular fights you can spam attack buttons and do alright, but in boss fights you need to understand how to link attack with other characters. Every character can can build up power to do a super special attack (the sexy magician lady Rosetta conjures a huge attack rose; Eugen, the guy with a massive gun, shoots his massive gun but like, massive massive), and if all the characters trigger theirs one after the other, you then follow up with the special attack equivalent of a Megazord, dealing huge damage. The screen at these points becomes basically entirely unreadable. Even so, it takes a while to stab to death a horse made of armour and wind.

Thus I intuit the process would be easier in co-op. I will try to find out. But initial impressions are, yeah, it's alright. I like the different characters who, no matter their respective ages, have smooth foreheads only available to animated characters and e.g. Simon Cowell. I like how their different powers link up in combat. I like the different levels designs so far. I kind of enjoy the melodrama and simple morals of the main story, as well. Bad guys are bad and good guys are good. If only I could watch cutscenes without fear that the whole thing would freeze and fall over. The game is out on Steam tomorrow, February 1st.

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