IMPRESSIONS: Grand Guilds

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

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An ominous storm gathers on the horizon as the continent of Irin finds itself staring down the prospects of another war. Eliza Halfort has been gone for a year on a long mission, but finally the time comes to return home. As she arrives back to the city of Ozryn, the peace is quickly broken. Mysterious creatures suddenly appear and start fires on the streets. Eliza joins up with other members of her guild to fend off the unexpected attackers. Returning to the guild hall, they quickly discover that the attacks in the streets were a distraction. Eliza must now lead her guild into many battles on a quest to uncover the truth and set things right in Grand Guilds. Can she unveil the dark plot and stop those responsible before it’s too late?

Grand Guilds | Intro

The continent of Irin is no stranger to the chaos of war.

Grand Guilds is a grid-based strategic combat game. It uses a card-based combat system, where you have several cards to choose from when deciding your next attack. Each card has a number in the upper left corner which tells you how many action points it takes to use.

Grand Guilds | Cards

At the start of a battle, you get this screen where you can choose to redraw some of your starting cards.

Each character has their own deck of cards, as they all have their own combat specialties. Kadmus, for example, is skilled at water magic. You only have three characters for a while early on, but more will become available as the story progresses. They will gain experience from battles, and level up their stats to become stronger fighters. A character that does not take part in a battle will still gain some experience, but not as much. There are also passive cards that give your character passive buffs. At first a character can only have one passive card equipped, but more slots unlock as you advance in the game. You’ll also unlock more cards along the way, too.

Grand Guilds | Stats

Here we see some early game stats for Eliza. You can see some other options here as well.

Grand Guilds also gives you the ability to use cards you’ve unlocked to build a custom deck for a character. You can see that this can be done from the stats screen shown above. There is also a Passives button there, which lets you change the passive card(s) the character currently has equipped.

Grand Guilds | Deck Building

This screen allows you to create custom decks of combat cards for the character that was selected. Here, Eliza is using her default deck at the moment.

Combat involves moving your units close enough to use the attack of your choice. Different types of attacks have different ranges, so if you’re too far away, then you can’t use that move. You’ll of course encounter both humanoid enemies and monsters in your journey. They can be quite dangerous, so you’ll need to be careful how you approach each situation.

Grand Guilds | Monsters

Combat involves moving in close enough to attack, and selecting a battle card to choose an action.

Once you have finished the tutorial section, the adventure begins. You’ll select quests and side quests from the world map screen. The side quests are completely optional. Usually a few more appear after each story mission. You can use the Quests button to see a list of all available quests and instantly jump to one on the map or scroll the map yourself. The Characters button lets you select a character to view their stats screen, where you can change their deck or create a new one, and change their passive card(s).

Grand Guilds | World Map

After the tutorial, you’ll be able to select quests from the world map.

The gameplay in Grand Guilds is fairly simple. The depth comes from the strategy element. However, the losses I suffered didn’t come from which cards I chose, so much as from how I moved my units. For the combat cards, it’s mostly a choice of using the most powerful ones on tougher foes, and using healing/buffs when you need to or can afford to (in terms of action points).

Grand Guilds | Passive Cards

Equipping passive cards on Eliza in the early game. She’s currently using Duel, which is in the lower-right corner in the main pane. It costs 2 points to equip.

While the launch of Grand Guilds was delayed a handful of months, some bugs unfortunately still remain. On the save file selection screen, it always shows your playtime as “00 H” no matter how long you’ve played. The community also reported that if you change the difficulty level, the change will not be reflected on this screen. I tested this and the bug is still there. There are also a few small gameplay issues. In some cases, objects on the battlefield get in the way when I am trying to click on a character, even though the character is still partially visible. This is most likely a hit box issue on said objects. Side quests become repetitive in the early game, as you quickly start seeing ones that are just minor modifications of ones you already played. They tend to be bland and not too interesting either. Side missions just have a short textual description of things like bandits attacking, for example. These optional missions do not have any character dialog at the start, which is a missed opportunity to set them up more and create a more compelling situation. You can rotate the camera, but oddly only using the keyboard or gamepad. For some reason you can’t use the mouse. A similar issue is present on the world map screen, where you can only pan around with the keyboard or gamepad. It’s an odd design choice, to be sure.

Grand Guilds | Bosses

A boss monster approaches! Oddly the bosses are sometimes significantly easier than the battle that preceded them.

Grand Guilds has a nice soundtrack that sets the mood as the story unfolds. The sound effects also do their job well, except in one case where they can become somewhat grating. You see, in dialog scenes characters will play a short voice acted word or phrase that sums up their dialog. Unfortunately, sometimes you hear the same ones played close together and it can become mildly annoying. Sometimes the voiced word or phrase feels a bit too general or just doesn’t quite seem to fit the dialog.

Grand Guilds | Giant Spiders

Giant Spiders incoming! Good thing none of your guild members has arachnophobia! On the other hand, who wouldn’t be afraid of giant spiders!?

Grand Guilds is a game that is not quite as deep as it wants to be. The presence of a number of bugs and a few odd design decisions hold it back. Nonetheless, there is still some fun to be had here if you like RPGs and strategy games. If the card-based battle becomes repetitive, you can try creating a new custom deck for one or more characters to change it up. I’ve logged a bit over 10 hours in the battlefields so far. You can find Grand Guilds on the Steam Store for $19.99, as well as on the Nintendo Switch eShop. Can you lead your guild to get to the bottom of the mysterious attacks and stop the insidious plot from succeeding?

About Michael Fontanini

Michael is a veteran gamer in his late 30s, who grew up around video games, with fond memories of the oldies like the NES, SNES, and N64 among others. He loves Nintendo, but also plays a lot of games on his PC. Michael also enjoys going for walks/bike rides, loves animals, and enjoys thunderstorms (and science in general).

Michael is also a computer programmer. This started with a toy he got as a kid called Pre-Computer 1000 that was made by V-Tech. It had a simple programming mode (a bare-bones version of BASIC) which is what started him down the road of being a programmer! Michael can program in BASIC, Visual Basic, C++, C#, and is familiar with Java and Lua Script.

Putting programming and gaming together, Michael became a hobbyist game developer, which may give him some good insights on game development! Most recently, he has been playing with the Unity 3D game engine (a powerful and easy-to-use engine) and learning 3D modelling in Blender.

I love Nintendo but I also play a lot of game's on PC, many of which are on steam. My favorite Nintendo game's include Zelda, Metroid, and Smash Bros to name a few. On PC I love the Half-Life games, as well as most all of the Source Engine games just to name a few.