Almost two months ago I had the opportunity to join the press beta of Grand Kingdom. Since then I eagerly awaited the release in hopes that I would get to review the game. So here I am after fighting many battles and skirmishes, and the game has remained just as enjoyable. Though I played it on PS4, the game is also on PS Vita. So if you really want to play a Fire Emblem on a non-Nintendo platform this is a great alternative, and yet it the biggest similarities might just be the genre.
Spiritual Content: Grand Kingdom contains many characters that use magic. Fantastical creatures also make an appearance such as harpies, werewolves, ghosts and more. Demons are also mentioned but usually come in the form of these creatures or possessed soldiers.
Violence: The actual fighting itself does not contain any blood, but characters do react to pain. Scenes play out in the form of character portraits and some are bloody or wounded. Players will find themselves battling other armies with swords, bows, guns, and large arms such as catapults and cannons.
Language: The words pr*ck, a*s, and bastard are seen multiple times in the dialogue.
Sexual Content: Many female characters wear revealing clothing that shows large amounts of cleavage.
Drug/Alcohol Use: Throughout the game there is one character that references going to the tavern and getting drunk and is eventually depicted being drunk as slurring his words.
First of all, everything I loved about the beta remains true in the final product. My progress was there just like I had hoped in the preview, so I used the same save file for the full game as I did the beta, with the only change being that everything finally became available to me. From the next quests to the other classes, I was finally able to begin my march through Grand Kingdom. Since I have explained how some of the mechanics in the preview I will be touching on how the full game expands on all of that.
The first huge difference is the quest system. I wanted to know what was going to happen after I completed all I could during the beta so this was my first stop. To my surprise, there is much more than campaign quests available. Below the campaign option, there are multiple of these quests that fall into two categories called “Versus” and “Single.” In the versus category, you will actually be competing against squads. Some objectives may have you slaying a certain number of monsters or collecting a certain amount of items through these board game style maps. Single quests are simply extra side quests for you to complete also containing various objectives, all of these extra quests are around for a limited time and even change based on which nation you are under contract with.
As for the campaign, I did not complete as much as I wanted to. This may be due to the fact that the quests have turn limits where failure will occur if you do not complete the quests under the set amount of turns. I found that to make things much more difficult.
The marketing for the game boasts a story that is 40+ hours long so I did not expect to finish it in the first place. One cringe-worthy part of the campaign thus far involves a character named Flint. Throughout what I have seen, his focus is constantly on getting drunk and going to the tavern for drinks. I am hoping to see some character growth and see him shape into a someone I actually care about. Events in the story and all conversations in the game are depicted through character portraits and dialogue, so don’t expect anything more. Those who have played games like Fire Emblem will be very familiar with this style of presentation. Having said that, I do think the characters and scenery have a great anime-like art style and are very well done.
The biggest thing that divides this game from other RPGs aside from the battle system is the “War” mode. You can still send out your squads do battle while you are away from the console like I mentioned before with the Dispatch/Detach system. What I did not mention before is that there is a pretty robust voting system. After you sign a contract with one of the four nations you can choose to go to the capital of that nation from the base menu. From there, you can go visit the leader, go to the barracks, shop, or speak with the townsfolk. The barracks is where the voting takes place. Players can vote for the next area of land that the nation will attack next. The other category you can vote in is “Treaties” which grant the nation bonuses like cannon support or healing rain which will affect the tide of battle in real time. I have had a lot of fun playing a part in taking over some of the final areas in that particular region and seizing control. While in battle, I find myself wondering if my current opponent squad is player controlled or AI due to that detachment system.
Another big addition I did not expect to find in Grand Kingdom is social features. When doing battle I liked how I never knew the opponents PSN ID, it was just all of their character names and squad name. The alliance system plays a huge part in this area. While going to war you can choose two characters from other armies to aid you in battle. Now in the preview these were all random, possibly from other squads alongside me on the battlefield, but one day instead of seeing “Random” next to the character’s name I saw “Follower” Instead. After the battle, I went to the information section back at base, and it offered statistics and also showed who was following me and who I followed. To my surprise I had one followed. I learned that once you follow a person back you now become friends, but either way, you will be able to hire your friend’s mercenaries to aid you in battle and they will receive the gold when they get back online. As a result, I went to the search function and looked up a fellow GUG staff member who decided to pick up the game after my preview and how much I enjoyed the game. Now my units are available for him next time he gets ready for battle.
Honestly, I feel like I could write about this game for days. There is potential here to experience something every time you log on. Even though the presentation is limited to menus, portraits, and dialogue. The war makes Grand Kingdom feel like a living world. The tide of war can change things drastically while players are away from the game, and the nation you happen to work for could bee seeing dominance at one time and then be overpowered in another. I have personally started to make allies with the nation of Feil, but I know that through the lengthy campaign I will be getting to know more about the four nations. So I am curious to find out whether that makes me side with another for a period of time. With all that Grand Kingdom has to offer, I would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of tactical role playing games. After getting to experience the final product I still think this game sits on the scale which the title implies.
Review copy provided by NIS America
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The Bottom Line
Grand Kingdom offers so much depth that hundreds of hours can easily be poured into the game. Though the presentation is limited, the war system helps create a living breathing world that is ever changing while players are online or away fro the television. Grand Kingdom remains to be on a scale that its title implies.