Steam and PS5’s latest darling, Granblue Fantasy: Relink, is a modern day PS2 game – for better and worse

Am I getting old? I think I might be, which isn’t a fun thought; the reason I mention it is because I keep thinking about PS2 games at the moment, and reminiscing about “the good old days” is something that only old people should do. It’s just, a lot of big video games don’t really capture me the way they used to. They’re either just way too long, bloated, or lifeless, and often don’t hold a candle to anything in the incredible library the PS2 has. Granblue Fantasy: Relink, on the other hand, while not perfect, is none of those things I’ve just mentioned, and honestly reminds me a lot of some of the best PS2 games out there – even if that isn’t always for the better.

I reviewed Granblue Fantasy: Relink for VG247 recently, generally coming away from it having enjoyed my time, but one thing I didn’t get to go into in enough detail is how this game looks. Triple-A game devs love to tell you about how good and realistic the lighting in their games are, going on about some guy called Ray who traces the light, or whatever, but real-time lighting just can’t beat baked lighting, which is predetermined and what changes depending on things like weather or time of day. Think Kingdom Hearts 2’s Twilight Town and its ever-present warm sunset, or this stunning bit of lighting from Silent Hill 3.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink is full of that kind of lighting, and my partner can attest to how much I let out expletives just from how stunned I was at the game’s beauty. There are some shots in there that are lit in a way that expertly captures the gravity of the content of a scene in a way that games with “realistic” lighting struggle to – not to mention the quiet literal skyboxes that have some of best clouds I’ve seen in a game. It doesn’t help that I watched a film like Suspiria recently that completely abandons any notion of realism in its lighting, furthering my agenda towards capturing Ray and preventing him from tracing anything else ever again.

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