By Steve Baltimore / July 8th, 2016
|Developer||Spike Chunsoft Co., LTD / Monochrome Corp|
|Release Date||June 21st, 2016|
When I first saw Grand Kingdom the artwork immediately caught my attention. I thought to myself “This looks like something Vanillaware would produce,” and sure enough some of that team had worked on the game. Seeing that it would have a unique turn based battle system on rails was just icing on the cake. I knew I had to check this one out. Did it meet my expectations or simply fall flat?
The story is not a strong part of this game. It is very basic and follows a group of mercenaries from a guild trying to make a name for themselves. Soon they will become entangled in the story of a sword that will bring destruction to the world. The inclusion of an overzealous rival in the story does make it a bit more interesting. Also there are more storylines for each of the four nations that unlock once you complete the main campaign, but honestly this is not the game’s main selling point.
The art in this game is simply amazing. It has that great 2D look, where it looks like living painted pictures. All of the character models are highly detailed and the game features a ton of customization options. These include outfit color, hair color, skin color, and you can even choose from quite a few voices for your characters as well. Each different weapon you equip has a different appearance and there are a lot of accessories that alter your appearance, so there is a plethora of options to choose from. Enemy models look just as great as player models. It’s been a long time since I wanted to fight a new monster just to check out its design. The stage backgrounds and overall maps look a little plain, but I think this is mostly because all of the in game models are so eye catching.
I really loved Grand Kingdom’s OST. The battle theme is just fantastic, it reminds me of some of the classic tunes we used to hear in Game Arts titles back in the day. Lots of strings, very upbeat tempo, and toe tapping beats. I wanted to fight more just so I could hear it. The voice acting here is pretty solid overall. There are a lot of different voice options for each party member you create, and you can adjust the pitch of these for even more customization. The game’s cutscenes are fully voiced as well, and there is a Japanese audio option for those that prefer it.
The gameplay is where this title really shines. First off there are 17 different classes you can bring into battle. Each class has its own unique set of skills and abilities. Some examples include Dragon Mages, which are huge units that take up two party slots, but they do massive amounts of damage with normal attack and have crazy area skills; Black Knights, which can wield two swords and use a variety of elemental and status effect skills; and there are also ranged classes like Archers and Gunners that blast the enemy with crazy skills from afar. The party combinations are endless, and it may take a while to make a party that fits your play style.
You will accept missions from the menu on the main screen. There are a couple of different types of missions. All will be limited on the amount of turns you have to complete them. There are missions where you will defeat a certain number of enemy units, some where you will collect resources, and others in which you have to defend certain points on the map for a certain amount of turns. Map themselves look like a board game. Your squad and all of the enemy units will appear as chess pieces that move along the map. They enemy will move as you do, and when you engage an enemy it will use up a few turns for combat. There are also traps aplenty thrown throughout the battlefield and you will have to decide at times if you want spend points to use a field skill to remove it, take the damage, or wait a few turns to pass through safely. There are also a ton of field skills and items to turn the battle in your favor. Some of these will heal your party, while others may stop enemy troop movement for a few turns. Using these effectively is key to succeeding in certain battles.
Combat itself it is a turn based affair, and your characters move on rails from side to side and move within three vertical rows. Just as each unit you control is different, their attacks will vary as well. Melee fighters will be able to chain moves together to make combo attacks. There’s nothing more satisfying then popping an enemy into the air then batting them like a baseball as they fall to ground. Ranged fighters have combo attacks as well, but these are done with a reticle that appears on the ground that moves back and forth. You will have to be very careful when aiming your attacks since they will hit your party members are well. I took me a minute to get used to some of the ranged attacks since I would end up hitting my own troops with splash damage often. You will recover a certain amount of HP back post battle, depending on how well your performed.
In addition to story missions you can also engage in the endless war. This is the online component of the game. This mode is very deep with many customizable tactics, the ability to send more than one squad into battle and many other features. It is also the most confusing part of the game and I recommend you check out the online manual for in depth details on how this all works. The main thing here is that it builds up your honor within the four nations at war, allowing you to purchase and use synthesis to create a vast array of powerful weapons and crazy items to decorate your characters with.
I spent over 30 hours with Grand Kingdom and I feel like I have just scratched the surface of everything this game has to offer. The combat is a ton of fun, the music is amazing, and the 2D art style is a joy for your eyes. I played the game on both the PS4 and Vita consoles and the only difference is the Vita has some slight loading times, but these did not effect my enjoyment of it in any way. It maybe a bit weak in the story department, but for the $39.99 on the Vita or the $59.99 price tag on the PS4, you simply cannot go wrong here.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Grand KingdomNIS AmericaSpike Chunsoft Co.