Grand Kingdom Review – Grand Tactics
Platform: Playstation 4, Playstation Vita
Publisher: NIS America
ESRB Rating: T
Thank You NISA America for providing a review copy of this game.
Every once in a blue moon there is a primarily single-player RPG with an online component. Usually these modes aren’t necessarily important to the game and can largely be left alone. Grand Kingdom is different in that its online mode isn’t some afterthought, but, better yet, a perfect extension of what’s provided in its single player offerings
In Grand Kingdom, you play as the role of the leader of a group of mercenaries. In this role you can purchase or dismiss units, buy equipment for said units, partake in quests, and, if you have an online connection, sign a contract with a nation and fight for their cause.
Grand Kingdom provides you with 13 classes to play around with. Sadly, you can’t just go up and grab whatever class you want at that specific moment as the game shows you a random lineup of recruits for you choose from. Said randomized recruits have randomized stat grades, field and ability abilities, and bonus points you can distribute if you choose to buy them. Other than that, even though they have a randomized look and voice, you can completely change that (besides gender – those are job specific) to anyway you want from a pool of styles. You can even change the pitch of their voice to if you wish. A class can fall into four different types: ranged, close combat, magic, and special. Magic beats close combat, but close combat beats ranged and ranged beats magic. Special classes such as Medics are not affected by this triangle.
In terms of items to buy, Grand Kingdom is pretty picky in that you can only buy items that help serve in a war you’re participating in or equipment for your units. That said, you can’t buy general items such as healing items because of the fact that your mercenary squad is part of a very large guild and on each mission you can choose what preset of items you’d want to bring. So, while it’s a cool in-game perspective, it felt almost unnatural considering how many RPGs make you take care of yourself instead of the other way around.
There are four different types of quests to take on your grand adventure. Campaign Quests serve as the game’s story mode. The game’s story is quite expansive, a little on the generic side with a rivaling guild and someone trying to take back ‘their’ kingdom. But once you get passed that and unlock the other campaigns, the real fun begins. Versus Quests require an online connection and for a semi-good reason, in these quests you’ll be completing a task with an AI, but this AI is actually someone else’s team. Regardless, the first one to complete the assigned objective is the winner. Single Quests mixes it up a little by having you side with a warring nation for a mission. What makes this so interesting is that if you lean too much on one side, you actually won’t be able to take on quests from a different nation because you opposed them one too many times. Finally, there’s the Travels Quests – these don’t have any objective other than for you to grind to your hearts content and pick up whatever items you find that may help in War.
Once you feel you’ve gained some knowledge on how to play the game it’s time to fight for the cause, the almighty dollar. It’s time to sign up and choose one of the four nations and go to war. War is an always-online always-ongoing mode. The reason for that is because the warring nations mainly use mercenaries to fight their battles for them, not so much their soldiers anymore which is where you and the rest of the world comes in to help fight their battles. That said when it’s time to sign your contract with the nation of your choosing, the more battles you sign up for the more rewards you will earn in return. Keep in mind, that like with Versus Quests, the teams you’ll be facing, while are actual people’s teams, are just AI. There are two different ways to go about war, you can do it yourself, or you can send one of your teams and assign them AI cues to properly defend or attack a front. Once you’ve entered a War map you’re allowed to hire two additional mercenaries to help you out.
Grand Kingdom’s gameplay is absolutely phenomenal. Quest missions and wars play similarly, but are played in a completely different manner. In both modes you get to choose a troop of people and go on your way. In Quest missions you’re given a brief summary of the situation and into the mission you go, meanwhile in war missions you have to prepare your defenses by setting up artillery units and setting up bases. Traveling the field is quite simple since everything is grid based, although it would be best to entirely explore a map so you know where all the secret passageways are so you have shortcuts for later. The biggest difference about quest missions and wars are that wars happen in real-time, while in quests everyone moves at the same time. Also in quests, you can only move so many times during a mission before it’s considered a failure (barring travel missions). Regardless, when you move onto an enemy base/artillery or when you and an enemy move onto the same space, it’s time to battle.
These battles have to be one of the deepest in terms of mechanics I’ve played in a while. In battle there are 3 lanes left, middle, and right. At this point the game becomes an interesting mixture between SRPG and ARPG. You see, the SRPG comes into to play when moving and using ranged moves because careful aim is absolutely critical. Friendly fire is a huge part of this game and the last thing you want to do is actually hit one of your units with magic. The ARPG comes into play when primarily using melee characters. You see, melee characters can actually combo certain techniques together with the timing of each move being just as critical. With melee users there are some moves you can do which will launch your opponent and depending the timing of your next move it could potentially be stronger because the opponent was in the air. It’s possible to completely whiff a hit because you launched them too far up or because you hit the move too early. The caveat to all of this is that there is a stamina type of system in play. One bar is for moving around and the like and the other is for attacks and potential set-up moves. Some melee users can actually use both meters when attacking. When an enemy is defeated, you gain one TP and adversely when an enemy defeats one of your men, they gain one TP. If you attack an opponent and they didn’t die/are close to death, the game will let you spend one TP to finish said opponent off (to only then gain one TP). Outside of battles, the TP you gain from battles can be used to open some chests and use various field moves.
In terms of what wasn’t liked about this game is the fact that you can only save in the main hub. There have been times where I’ve been on a campaign quest for 20-30 minutes only to lose at the very end and have to start over again. Other than that, it’s really just the slow hump that is the campaign.
In all, this game is absolutely great in terms of design. Its story-telling can get a little weak at points, but just how deep these mechanics can go and ultimately build into each other is almost perfect.
+Fantastic blend of SRPG and ARPG mechanics
+Fantastic blend of how single-player ties into multiplayer
-A generic half baked story