I enjoyed the Grand Kingdom beta a lot which left me itching for the full release and now, with its release a few days ago, I got to sink my teeth into the games full experience.
Grand Kingdom is set in a fantasy world with medieval undertones, and sees four nations battling to gain control and assert their dominance across the land. The protagonist, a leader of a mercenary guild, undertakes missions from all four nations to fill his and his guild’s coffers, but they soon find themselves wrapped up in something bigger than just trying to earn money. There’s plenty of dialogue to help you become attached to the characters, although the people you play as and hire have very little to say. Regardless, Grand Kingdom is a lot of fun and the story is good enough to keep you pushing forward.
Developer Spike Chunsoft have created a challenging, creative game that seamlessly blends together turn-based and strategy elements in a way that they perfectly compliment each other. Battles take place on a chess board-like map where you move a chess piece around the map where you can either avoid or collide with other chess pieces where touching one initiates a battle. You can also look for shortcuts as you make your way to your destination and look for items but be careful as you do have a move limit and once it’s exhausted, then you’ve failed the mission and will have to restart from the beginning. You can find medics on the field to heal you and there are chances to get more turn points which is great considering some missions can be quite lengthy and difficult.
When you come across a chess piece on the field, you’re taken to 2D plane with your four party members as you face off against your opposition. With your party on the left and the enemy on the right, you can move in 3 different lanes (so down, middle and up) for as long as your move meter allows you to do – you can either choose to re-do your turn or finish it at anytime. There are a variety of classes to choose from which specialise in things such as melee attacks, ranged attacks, magic and healing, so you’ll want your team to be a good mixture so that you’re prepared for any type of enemy. There are sometimes obstacles on the battlefield in the shape of barrels, fire, etc, which you can choose to avoid or destroy.
Grand Kingdom is visually pleasant with some fantastic art styles and character designs, and I’m very fond of the chess-like maps. Its detailed 2D art looks stunning in motion and whilst I’m not usually a big fan on games set so far in the past, the way that Spike Chunsoft have blended realism and fantasy makes this game very easy to get engrossed in. Being able to customise certain things about each unit you recruit is nice too, and you can change their hats, colour of their skin, and what colour their clothes are. Grand Kingdom oozes style, like most of Spike Chunsoft’s games, so fans of the company won’t be disappointed here. All English subtitles are clear and easy on the eyes, not requiring me to squint whatsoever – surprisingly, some game’s still have their text way too small!
Grand Kingdom features a great English Dub (we,, this is a NIS America published game, after all) and a musical score befitting the games look and feel. There’s plenty of spoken dialogue and a lot of lore to learn about the opposing factions and the world, and well-performed voice-acting brings the dialogue to life and helps to make me become engrossed in the world. With so many magical abilities and classes present, there’s a lot of special effects and sound occurring but fortunately they rarely overlap or drown one another out, so I have much praise for the audio mixers working on Grand Kingdom.
Grand Kingdom is a complex, creative game with an addicting battle system, stunning visuals and oodles of content. There aren’t many games like Grand Kingdom and it’s an easy recommendation for those looking for a JRPG, a SRPG or both as it manages to blend both together seamlessly. NIS America have added another excellent title to their library and I know it’s something I’ll keep returning to as not only is it good for long periods of play, but it’s perfect for short bursts too.