The market is relatively flooded with tactical RPG games when it comes to the PlayStation 4, and it usually is hard to create a unique experience that offers a better experience over others. With finicky turn systems or lacklustre stories, it is becoming increasingly hard to find a good RPG amongst the few. Surprisingly, Grand Kingdom manages to tick the boxes, and Spike Chunsoft/NIS America’s latest offering may be the one to break the slump.Banner_0000_STORYFollowing the fall of what was known as the Uldein Empire, the land is split into Four Great Nations of Resonail. Each nation does not fight with knights, but rather hire bands of mercenaries to do their bidding. Some fight for a living, others seek the glory of riches. They do it not for the nations themselves, but for their own benefit. Leading your own band of mercenaries, you dive headfirst into the conflict, uncovering an incident that threatens the entire land.Banner_0001_PRESENTATIONGrand Kingdom is quite a visually appealing game. Presented in a 2D art style, every character and environment is animated with a great amount of detail. This makes for some fun and enjoyable gameplay, as each battle or overworld objective is always a pleasure to look at. The only really jarring thing is a strange main menu option which sees the camera sway around a room that may have some players feeling dizzy when they see it (it probably would have been better as static images).Screenshots_0001_Layer 3The game’s overworld, which also functions as the map, is modelled after a board-game, with spaces taking up movement turns and such. This shares the same bright art style seen in the battles and the menus. Cutscenes are semi-animated but fully voiced, giving the game a little bit more depth. Each mercenary you hire can be customized to how you wish, including looks and voice, and each class of mercenary also has wildly different depictions, so each squad you field can look greatly different. Of course, no RPG is complete without an action-packed soundtrack, and Grand Kingdom does not fail in this department either, with catchy battle tunes and subtle menu music.Banner_0002_GAMEPLAYGrand Kingdom’s strengths are mostly in its battle system, and I have to say that once you get the hang of fighting, it becomes a lot of fun. We start off with the overworld map, which as mentioned before is depicted like a board game. Players move their squad as a single unit across this map, either in search of the objective or to fight enemies, or collect items. Each movement takes a turn (with a limited number of turns per mission) and can be hindered by obstacles or shifted with items.Enemy units and map conditions adhere to this same rule, so often players will be tactically hamstrung if they make the wrong move. When an enemy is encountered, the game shifts into the battle scene, and it is here where the game really shines.

Enemy units and map conditions adhere to this same rule, so often players will be tactically hamstrung if they make the wrong move. When an enemy is encountered, the game shifts into the battle scene, and it is here where the game really shines.

Grand Kingdom employs a turn-based fighting system like most other RPGs of its calibre, but it makes some significant changes. Before any battle, players set up a formation for their units in which battles will be encountered.There are three ‘tracks’ that can be used which are parallel to each other, and players adjust accordingly where they want particular units or defensive objects that can be used to block attacks or add range (barrels, shields, boxes, etc). When a battle occurs, the turn-based system comes into play, and the battle is ultimately decided by how the player sets it up. Each unit has a movement gauge and an attack gauge – the movement gauge determines how far a unit can move (and if it can jump tracks), and these units can move to within striking distance or out of range of other units. Screenshots_0000_Layer 4

There are three ‘tracks’ that can be used which are parallel to each other, and players adjust accordingly where they want particular units or defensive objects that can be used to block attacks or add range (barrels, shields, boxes, etc). When a battle occurs, the turn-based system comes into play, and the battle is ultimately decided by how the player sets it up. Each unit has a movement gauge and an attack gauge – the movement gauge determines how far a unit can move (and if it can jump tracks), and these units can move to within striking distance or out of range of other units. Then, using the attack gauge, players can either attack a character, initiate a guard, or heal other units. Some units have the chance of an assist, which can be critical for taking out enemies, and focusing on the opposing party’s leader will slow their attacking capabilities. Thinking ahead is your key to victory, by examining the enemies on the field and your own units to see what the best strategy for victory is.

I found the ‘track’ system quite interesting, and it may take players a while to truly get the hang of it, but once you do and you understand what your units are capable of, battles unfold in extremely fast time, and tiny mistakes can mean the end of your party. Ranged units are especially interesting, as every shot you take is up to you in a sort of quick-time event, rather than predetermined hits or chances. The way you fight, the units you choose and the squads you take into a battle will be entirely different to anyone else, and will ultimately define whether you win or lose matches. And with a multitude of unit classes and abilities, no two squads will be the same, and balance will be the key.Banner_0003_CONCLUSIONIt is refreshing to see a tactical RPG with such a unique battle system, and it allayed my fears of having to trawl through yet another turn-based game. Grand Kingdom is definitely worth picking up and getting into, and will likely be enjoyed by both newcomers to tactical games and experienced players alike. With a multitude of customizable characters and play styles and online functions that will pit you against the best of the best, there isn’t a moment to spare with Grand Kingdom.

Story7
Presentation9
Gameplay9
Innovative battle mode
Loads of customisation
Excellent presentation
Cutscenes get boring
Somebody stop that swaying menu screen!
8