Grand Kingdom is a tactical role-playing game from Monochrome that will be published in Europe by NIS America on June 17th.
Grand Kingdom sees you take up the mantle of the head of a mercenary outfit in a land torn apart by war, a war ruled by those with the biggest coin purse, as solders sell their swords to the highest bidder and knights of honor give way to those pursuing greed and fame.
When starting up the game you’re initially treated to scenes at the end of one such battle, where you have your foes on the ropes begging for their lives, only for your employers to turn around and surrender – thus making your reason to be there void and dropping the price of your foes heads to less than a copper a piece. This is the law of the land, and the foes you just felled will soon become friends as they implore you to join the mercenary guild like themselves.
And so our journey begins, as does our initiation into the guild. In Grand Kingdoms Lite version you have access to the games first two missions, this is essentially the games tutorial and teaches you most of what you need to know to play the game using a pre-built party to the best of your ability – to prove your worth to the guild. Once gameplay begins you will find yourself on a map with a set number of turns to complete your objective, think of it as something like a game board, with each move of your piece seeing every other piece move. These maps contain multiple routes, treasures and secrets requiring you to use strategy to make the best use of your limited turns. Overall its a very straight forward system, you get from point A to point B with a simple push on the D-pad, making it very easy to pick up even if you skip through the detailed tutorial dialog. Even the more advanced techniques for completing your objectives requires little effort to get used to, from the use of skills to finding secrets scattered around the map requires little more than a few button presses.
This brings me what happens when you encounter another piece on the field. Doing so will initiate a battle with enemy mercenaries, these battles can be avoided at times, however if you have turns its likely a good idea to take them on as it will provide experience for your troops to level up. Battles take part in a side view environment along 3 lanes, with you on the right and your foes on the left. You must move each of your units along these lanes and switch between them within your limited action gauge to position yourself to attack. Fighters use melee damage to strike foes at close range and require repeated presses of the O button to chain strikes, however this also requires timing as quite often your opponent will go flying and be just out of range of your strike.
The other 3 units you use during the tutorial are ranger, wizard and medic. Ranger and Wizard use ranged attacks and require some positioning in order to deal damage, but even then you must time your attack to hit a foe in their attack zones. Finally the medic also uses range damage, throwing vials of acid at opponents, however they are more of a support class able to heal your units with potions or by placing first aid on the ground for your units to walk over. This can be a double-edged sword as opponents can make use of these items too. Once again this system becomes very simple to use with little practice and comes with a detailed dialog to help you understand it all from the off. What it really comes down to is the way you utilize each of your party members strengths and weaknesses. In the lite version only these classes are available, however in the full title you will have many more to choose from – all with different skills and bonuses.
After these tests you will become a member of the guild, and sadly this is where the story progression ends, but lets us take up another side of Grand Kingdom – as well as unlocking daily bonuses. For each day you play you get a log in bonus similar to those of mobile apps with each successive day going towards a better bonus. I personally find this to be a great incentive to play daily as it provides some very useful and rare items. However the main unlock here is the “online” war option. This allows you to sign a contract with one of the 4 nations to partake in a set number of battles for them. These offer multiple rewards in terms of payment, from items to coin as well as XP, to give you an added edge in battle. Sadly the term “online” may be a little misleading though as the results are cumulative for your faction, the foes you will be facing are AI controlled meaning you likely won’t be playing against others in the future. This does however pose the advantage of not having to wait around for every player to make a decision in regards to both traversing the map and in battles.
Overall I will be quite happy to purchase this title and will likely enjoy it for many more hours with the extra features and classes that are planned be available in the full title.
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