REVIEW: Grand Kingdom provides grand ol’ time.
Yes, the Grand Kingdom (PS4 & PS Vita) North American release date was June 28th, 2016. Today is September 23rd.
But hear me out. There’s a reason why I’ve waited almost three months to write this review and all will be revealed in time.
GRAND KINGDOM OVERVIEW
Yes, we HAVE to go through these to get some conventional context.
Grand Kingdom is a tactical RPG set in a fictional island where four nations are vying for dominance. It definitely crafts its own voice but to give better imagery of the game’s overall feel, Grand Kingdom borrows elements from Tactics Ogre, Brigandine, Dragon’s Crown, and Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth.
The Grand Kingdom visuals are straight out of Dragon’s Crown. All the sprites are animated and the platform (in battle) is reminiscent of a SNES side-scroller Beat ‘Em Up.
The only part where GK might deviate from DC would be in the accentuation of female protrusions, which is a good thing.
Seriously, I don’t need bowling ball boobs shoved in my face all the time.
The music does its job.
I’m not going to go on a tangential rant discussing the potential Germanic Nouveau-Riche attributes of the soundtrack and how it compares with the Post-Modern Beat scene.
The music. Does. Its job.
And by that, I mean the music captures well the militaristic-yet-animated feel of the game’s setting. You wouldn’t necessarily notice it’s there (which means it’s done its job in not detracting you from the gaming experience) but it’s still poignant enough if and when you do.
Go here to check some samples. #23, Away From Prying Eyes, is my favourite.
Cripes, this will be a nightmare to explain.
There are three facets to the Grand Kingdom gameplay. You play the role of a captain of a mercenary troupe and it’s your job to hire, train, and dispatch soldiers (of which there are a total of 17 classes) into one of three options:
- Campaign—essentially a one-player mode that explores the story behind the island’s perpetual war.
- Quest—a mode where you take a troop of four soldiers to traverse a region—gameboard style—with the goal of fulfilling specific objectives for a nation or to collect much needed resources for item crafting.
- War—an online-only feature where you can show other players the prowess of your mercenary troop. Bearing the flag of the nation with whom you’ve contracted, you (and all other human players) fight for supremacy over several regions in REAL TIME. At the end of 24 hours, should you and your nation succeed in occupying a region, you reap some very nice rewards.
There are other RPG elements such as conducting a war strategy with other human players (via a democratic voting system), crafting weapons and equipment via the town blacksmith, grinding and leveling your soldiers to attain their potential, and gathering enemy troop information…
But at its core, the three aforementioned facets best characterize Grand Kingdom’s gameplay.
And alas, here we are. Grand Kingdom’s strongest feature.
To be completely fair, I haven’t touched the game’s “Campaign Story” quests. With only so much time in the day, I’d rather spend the one or two hours I do spend playing on the “War” mode.
It’s the game mode that provides the most USEFUL tangible rewards, the most experience for your soldiers, and a sense of community that it would keep you wanting to achieve more and more.
It is easiest to grind soldiers via the “War” mode and—based on community discourse—it is also where players feel the most communal pride. People love being part of a team as it motivates players to extend their gaming experience beyond a solitary one.
As one can see in this video, Fiel (one of the four nations) players have successfully organized outside of the game and achieved a 12 territory victory on September 18th-19th. I can proudly say I played a part (albeit small) in it.
Let’s face it—a lot of the rewards the game offers are worthless. “Quest” mode rewards offer mostly potions, offensive world items, and morale boosters but these are all procurable at the shop.
“War” is the only mode where players can sustainably farm the BEST rewards: “Tomes” or “Scrolls”.
Why are these important?
To answer this question adequately, some further game context is necessary.
When hiring, only a limited amount of soldiers are available every time you pull up the tavern screen. Each potential soldier comes with a randomly rolled set of stats, with a grade in each ranging from F (the worst) to S (the best). Naturally, “S” stats are rare to come by.
This tavern does not refresh a new set of candidates until after you’ve completed a) a quest or b) a war region.
So you see, one cannot just exit and re-enter the tavern immediately to see if the class you’re looking for finally rolled some great stats.
Tomes and Scrolls allow the player to upgrade their soldiers’ stats. Scrolls boost stats one level up and can be used every time the soldier hits level 20 while Tomes boost stats two levels and are usable when the soldier hits level 30.
Upon usage, Tomes and Scrolls revert the soldier back to level 1 but the player may rinse, repeat, and recycle as needed to show off the training progress of their troops!
GRAND KINGDOM’S GRAND VERDICT
Whew. Now do you see why explaining the game would be a nightmare?
Going into it, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of mechanics that goes on into how the game is played…
…but the overall experience is far from it.
The replay value is designed to sustain your interest. What better way to do so to get you to grind to your heart’s content?
As one may point out by my all-female army, the BattleSistrs (not enough characters), I am motivated to train them to be the best they can be and EMAS-CASTRATE all opposition!
Huehuehuehuehue! (Yes, I have problems)
And brownie points to those that can name the source materials from which my amazons are derived.