First announced in 2016, Cygame’s Granblue Fantasy: Relink has been on every action JRPG fan’s mind. Although time went by without any significant updates to the project, we held out hope of its eventual release. Now, after revealing a February 1, 2023, release date, we can raise the hype flag as more news and updates surrounding the game will surely be revealed.
To get a better idea of the game’s development and systems, we had the chance to experience it for ourselves during a press event. After, we sat down with game director Yasuyuki Kaji and series director Tetsuya Fukuhara to discuss the upcoming action experience.
Azario Lopez: Granblue Fantasy: Relink was first announced in 2016, and since its announcement, what significant changes has the game seen?
Yasuyuki Kaji: So the game itself hasn’t changed very much. But in the original trailer, there was a different main character. Her tentative English name was Blue. But since that point, we decided to revert the main character to Gran/Djeeta.
AL: Has that change helped the game’s direction?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: The reversion to Gran/Djeeta as the main character, we think, really made the game more interesting because we could link more of the elements from the original mobile title. So perhaps the relationships that are already developed between the main character and the rest of the cast, we can explore those a little bit more.
YK: Even though changes have been made since the original concept, such as changing the main character, all of the changes were made for the positive. And we really think it’s a much better experience.
AL: In terms of story content. A lot of fans have deep connections with these characters. How much of an emphasis on the story has been put into Granblue Fantasy: Relink?
YK: When it comes to the more emotional area of the game, the biggest theme we’re trying to carry over from the mobile version of the game. We originally developed that game with the theme of boy meets girl, where the main character, Gran/Djeeta, meets Lyria.
In this new game, we’re trying to have another spin on that theme. So revamping that boy-meets-girl-plot element in a different way. And in addition to that, just like the name suggests with Relink, the major theme is about the links and connections between not only the main character and Lyria but the entire cast and their bonds together.
AL: After working with a creator such as Yoko Taro, I expected some characters to die, but I guess we won’t be seeing that here.
YK: Yes, none of that.
AL: Speaking on that, how has your experience within the action genre prepared you for a title such as this?
YK: I think my experiences helped me make the game a better action experience. Overall, my history is with developing a lot of action games, so from the standpoint of capturing a certain gameplay feel or how to maneuver the characters, I’ve really taken the knowledge of those mechanics and applied them as best I could to the Granblue Fantasy universe. So my main focus was on bringing quality action content to the world of Granblue Fantasy.
Another facet where I think my experience really helped out was in creating not just characters that are fun to play but also situations that are fun to play. So really focusing on making those elements that are vibrant, that provide a lot of spectacle for the players, and really make for an enjoyable experience on that.
AL: Is there ever a time when you took up the director role that someone brought to the table a large boss encounter or significant gameplay system, which would make the game’s scope even grander, and you thought to yourself, “oh, what did I get myself into?”
YK: I felt all of it. Really felt it. As far as the ever-expanding nature of the game, yes, you hit the nail on the head asking that question. The game is from an IP that has just a world of content already, so it’s kind of hard to narrow down what exactly to pick.
Also, as far as, like, vertical versus horizontal elements of the game, we’ve been constantly expanding both the depth of content and the breadth of content. So really, from all vantage points, it’s been kind of an intimidating project to lead, but we’re very happy with what we’ve created.
AL: Did you have a choice in the playable characters? Was there any character that you were like? This character needs to be in it besides the main cast.
TF: In the beginning, when we were having discussions with Platinum Games, it was more of a natural process rather than us really forcing characters in. So, because it’s a game that’s played with a party of four, we really wanted there to be a lot of variety in the types of characters that you can play. And when we talk about variety, we’re not just talking about playstyle, which, by the way, we’re really proud of making unique playstyles for every character.
We’re also talking about the visual aspects of the characters, so like the different colors of their costumes as well as their different effects and other such things like that. So as far as the roster is concerned, it just happens naturally over time. As we were thinking, this person would make a good addition to the cast. Perhaps this one is a little superfluous compared to something that we already have, so that’s how it developed.
AL: So what you’re saying is they didn’t put your favorite character in the game.
TF: I Love All My Children.
AL: Is there something you’d like to share with those looking forward to playing Granblue Fantasy: Relink?
YK: So, first off, I just want to really apologize to everyone for this super long wait. We know you’ve been waiting a while, but we hope that we’ve created a game that can live up to those ever-increasing expectations. Additionally, we’ve worked really hard to make an interesting story with an interesting cast. So we’re super excited for everyone to get their hands on the game and really enjoy what we have to offer. Thank you.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via Steam on February 1, 2024.
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