I’m going to start this off by saying that I am not a big RPG fan. There are a few that I have played and enjoyed, but I just don’t seem to finish them. When Geeks Under Grace was sent an invitation into the press beta for Grand Kingdom, I looked up a trailer and thought it looked like something I could get into. What I discovered is something I enjoyed very much. In the last five days I have put a lot of time into this game, much more than I expected to. The last piece I did for NIS America wasRodea the Sky Soldierwhich was mediocre, but I can assure you that Grand Kingdom is on the kind of scale that the title implies.
Before I get into detail, know that I was limited to three battles a day, and that any progress I have made will carry over into the full game. A small piece of the campaign was also included to get players familiar with how the gameplay works. Grand Kingdom is a tactical RPG, but in very few ways can it actually be compared to Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics series. I was quick to try and find a comparison but this game has an identity of its own. The battlefield is actually done in the style of a board game, and troops are moved in the form of pawns. During the tutorial, I recall seeing that you can actually change it into a grid style, but I did not try it for myself to find out the extent of that feature. During quests, you have to make it to a certain goal on the board while War mode is set up like a battle with an allied and enemy base along with armaments such as large cannons and catapults that will actually affect the battles.
While most in the genre have grid based movement, this is more like a board game
The process of getting new units/characters is pretty sweet. The game is centered around a mercenary army and you must hire soldiers. There are around twelve classes and the beta only gives you access to four of them: your basic warrior, healer, archer, and mage. When selecting a unit to hire, you can customize them by changing their hair, skin color, clothing color, and of course their voice and name. You will also be given a starting bonus of stat points to allocate wherever you choose as soon as you hire them. This is an RPG, so you will be leveling up these characters and unlocking new skills or them to use.
The game keeps a constant rotation of different units to hire every time you enter the menu
The battle system is the coolest and yet most stressful part of the game. All of the attacks are mapped to specific buttons instead of a menu. Movement and actions are all determined through a few gauges at the bottom of the screen as the turn order can be found below that, so of course the idea is to plan accordingly. Each troop including yours also has a leader; the idea is to take out the leader first if you can in order for the rest of the units to lose morale. The thing I had to get used to was friendly fire. You must watch the range and effect of the attacks you are using. I am accustomed seeing my opponents face me like fighting game, so sometimes when my units would get turned around, I would accidentally do damage to them thinking they were my enemy. Other times, I would do a particular attack and despite being just outside the area of effect, my soldiers would sometimes still be affected along with my target. The voice work makes me laugh during these moments. Your characters will apologize or make some sort of comment about the fact they just hurt their ally. The friendly fire surely adds some stress to the combat, but I still found the combat to be a ton of fun.
The quest mode will have you battling a variety of enemies
The war system has so much meat to it that this would be the length of a full review if I explained every detail. Basically, you will be taking contracted from four different nations and fighting in their wars. These wars last for multiple hours while battles are quick and are meant to gain or defend territory on the map. When fighting in battles, there are two options: you can “dispatch” your troops and actually participate in combat , or you can “detach.” This lets your troop participate in the war so that you can go live life and go to work or whatever it is that you do. While you are away, your army is controlled by an AI and fights in these battles. Of course you do have a say in the behavior of the AI—the beauty of this system is that you never know when you are fighting against actual players or not. In fact, as I write this, my troop is probably back at base along with a battle report waiting for me.
I could go on and on about everything this game has to offer. I have said so much and yet I have barely scratched the surface of all that Grand Kingdom has to offer. I have already put many hours into the beta and I’m positive the full game will be no different. NIS has said that the consumer beta will be available on May 3rd, so I urge you to check it out when that becomes available. So whether it be alongside me or against me, I look to seeing you out there on the battlefield.
Born in southern California, but currently residing in Lafayette, Louisiana. Loves Hip Hop music, comics, and video games.
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