Also available on PlayStation Vita
Grand Kingdom is a game that I pre-ordered on an absolute whim back during my especially financially irresponsible days (as opposed to my normal moderately financially irresponsible days), and I thought it sounded SUPER cool. It was touted as a strategy RPG set in a continent plunged into near-constant war between four rival kingdoms, and that's the kind of game I crave. Having finally gotten around to playing, it, though, I can't quite say that I'm impressed.
Grand Kingdom's story is a bit broken up. There's a 12 mission main story that follows your character's mercenary company in the Guild, but when you finish that, there are four post-game campaigns that expand the lore of each of the four kingdoms in the game. Unfortunately, by the time I got to mission 9 of the Guild campaign, I was just...kind of done with the game. The gameplay isn't particularly exciting, and neither the story nor any of the characters are all that engaging. The story mainly boils down to this group of bandits that claim to the be descendants of a long dead empire try to resurrect four ancient demons to restore their empire. Not a bad premise, but the execution is just...meh.
The gameplay takes place on a linear field three lines high and two or three screen widths wide. You have a team of four mercenaries (or three if you have one of the fairly uncommon mounted units which count as two) fighting an enemy force of anywhere from two to six. Each unit moves in turn depending on its stats (rather than one team at a time) until one team is wiped out. Pretty simple stuff. There are a pretty good variety of classes, but unfortunately, there are really only 5 real "types" - melee, magic, range, support, and mounted (which is basically the "murder everything" class). It's not that the gameplay is bad by any means, but it doesn't have the depth of most RPGs that I've played (Valkyria Chronicles, Fire Emblem, etc). There is an online component that pits you against CPU-controlled copies of other players' teams from around the world, but it's...not much more exciting than the standard offline gameplay.
The game's got a pretty nice visual style that's reminiscent of anime without being the straight up waifu games I usually play when I'm playing an anime style game. The music is okay, but it's pretty forgettable. It serves the purpose of background music, but it's not a musical score that's going to make an impression like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or Final Fantasy VII. The voice acting, however, is quite good, and while the characters themselves may not be especially exciting in my opinion, their dialogue, at least, is delivered well by actors who seem at least halfway decent at their jobs.
Grand Kingdom is a game that's presentation and promises are a lot more substantial than the actual product delivered. I think my opinion would likely be a bit better if I had gone into it with lower expectations, but with names like Spike Chunsoft and NIS America tied to it, I went in expecting a fun and engaging game. What I got was a pretty run-of-the-mill SRPG with a bland story, forgettable characters, and monotonous gameplay. If you're into the genre and find it for $10 or less, then it's worth a pick up - it's worth at least that much, I'd say - but this is certainly no "hidden gem."
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.