Granblue Fantasy Relink Demo Impressions
Welp, the Granblue Fantasy: Relink Demo is out. It came out yesterday as expected, hot on the heels of Part 2 of the Granblue Showcase. Although, it turns out I could’ve been playing earlier than I did. The showcase said the demo would launch at midnight on January 12th, Japan time. But… That wasn’t quite true! PlayStation store released it according to local timezone.
I legitimately live in New Zealand, but I went to bed thinking it wouldn’t come out until ~4:00 am my time. D’oh.
But not to worry, because in the end: Worth the wait. By now, no matter where you are in the world, it should be available. There is no PC version of the demo though unfortunately, PS4/5 only.
While the demo doesn’t answer all of my concerns — it has made me even more excited for the full launch, if such a thing is even possible.
If you’re keen to give the demo a go yourself — it’s in the PlayStation store. Head in there, find Granblue Fantasy: Relink, and then select the three-dots menu. From there, you will be able to select Download Demo. I missed this before heading the bed, expecting that the Demo would show up as its own edition of the game.
What Does the Demo Include?
- Tutorial — Fairly brief; but runs through the basic controls and I highly recommend starting there.
- Single-player Story/Campaign Segment — Restricted to playing only as Gran with a preset party in the demo. The party screen is disabled.
- Quests — Opens up party selection and gear/builds. Also opens up the option of multiplayer; but all quests can be done single-player if preferred.
The main screen and tutorial initially gave me some concern. You see; I’m an ‘inverted’ player. Whether mouse or controller, I invert the Y-axis (up/down). It’s just what I’ve always done. Couldn’t say for sure whether it was from playing flight sims, from who was teaching me to use a computer, or whether my brain is just wired that way naturally.
But whatever the case, not having the option (while rare) can be a deal breaker. Case in point, you can’t invert mouselook in Genshin Impact, so I just don’t play it despite potentially otherwise being interested.
The limited demo options from the main menu and inability to access options at all within the demo gave me quite a sinking ‘Uh oh’ feeling as a result. Fortunately, you can switch to inverted look controls, even in the demo, but not until you’re in the story or quest modes.
Almost immediately going through the tutorial, I wanted the ability to change the controller button actions. They didn’t seem intuitive to me, and upon entering the story mode for some ‘real’ combat, at first, I doubled down on that view.
But — and I’m unsure whether this is a demo limitation or the case for the full release as well — you have only limited options for changing button binds. The one I really wanted to do (flip dodge and action activation from their current R2/R1 configuration to the other way around) wasn’t possible, despite the fact you could flip block and lock-on (which is L1/L2).
Not really having any other option though, I stuck with it. And throughout the story combat; while none of it is challenging in the sense that you can screw up a lot without really going down — it felt like a lot with the high pace of action while trying to get accustomed to the odd controls.
It seemed to me that enemy attacks were too fast and that dodging or blocking at the right moment in amongst your attacks was more of a crapshoot than a skill game.
It’s fair to say that my initial impressions started leaning toward the negative.
By the time I’d got through the story; and then perhaps 2-3 quest runs… Things started to click.
I wasn’t having to expend so much effort parsing the controls any more, meaning I could spend more effort on parsing the enemy actions on the screen instead.
I found a flow. And I would say I found it within perhaps an hour, hour and a half of play.
You may recall, in my last post, I said that one of the things that could quickly kill off my interest in Granblue Fantasy: Relink would be if the combat was too simple and lacked any sort of depth.
I’m not worried about that any more.
The characters on offer in the demo had a spectrum of difficulty to master. Some had what I imagine will be — relatively — quite low skill-ceilings, but as a trade-off, allow more people to play them and feel good. Others, on the other hand, might rely on stance switching, perfect timing, or the proper use of counters or super-armour moves to keep on trucking.
It was fun to start seeing skills and game understanding coming together. Even in the highly restrictive demo environment. Every character for the Quests mode was fixed to level 10 and allowed to take just 3 sigils (gear slots). Not to mention, each character only had 5 skills unlocked. You can equip 4 at a time, so this allowed us the chance to play around with it… A little… But the full game will have many more per character.
What the demo gave no answer on, however, was the rate of progression.
There was no XP gain, no ability to use the blacksmith, nor even an option to access a shop. Quest drops were disabled entirely, too.
So that does remain as my one outstanding major concern about Granblue Fantasy: Relink. What will progression feel like?
Hopefully, it’s good, but it seems we will have to wait a little bit longer yet to find that out.
Nrgh. Waiting sucks. ;)