It’s very rare that we find games that bring something new to the genres we know and love. I think GTA III did it, and I think Call of Duty: Modern Warfare did it (although I hate the latter). I think Grand Kingdom has done that to portable sRPGs: It’s magestic, enormous, endless fun, challenging, beautiful to behold, and just a joy to play.
There’s not much in terms of story: guilds, kingdoms, etc. Pretty standard fare. The interpersonal relationships are not much cope, either: very generic, quite bland.
Now that we’ve got the two niggles I had with the game out of the way, let’s talk about what makes the game the special gem and probably one of the best games to grace the Vita, this year or any other year.
First and foremost, the gameplay: I could go on and on about this, and so I should. The overworld is a bit like Hitman GO!, in that it is reminiscent of a game board. You have moves, avoid enemies, etc. The battles themselves are sRPG excellence, with three “lanes” in which characters (and items) can be placed upon and moved on.
You have no less than 17 (!) classes to choose from, each one with unique pros and cons both in and outside of battle. Melee attackers and Medics are here, as well as ranged fighters, witches (and wizards), etc.
If all of this sounds like pretty standard stuff, it’s because on paper, it is. But it’s not until you actually play Grand Kingdom that you realize the “Grand” in the name was put there for a reason: everything about the game is a polished, bigger, better and more intricate version of what you’d find in most games in the genre.
Moving on to graphics, the game is absolutely gorgeous: even in cutscenes there are little details (like characters breathing) that make the whole thing come alive. In battle, everything looks smooth and runs like a dream. The artstyle is a bit reminiscent of Dragon’s Crown, and praise doesn’t come much higher than that. It makes you wonder how they pulled stuff like this off and yet games like Alien Shooter struggle to keep FPS in the double digits.
The voice-acting in English is very good, but as usual I switched to Japanese voice acting as soon as I could, and what a treat it was. I really do wish there were more female protagonists in the story, but the few that are present, are a joy to interact with.
You’ll probably get a few dozen hours of amazing gameplay out of this, both in quests and wars (which is the online element of the game). Replay value? Endless, really, as most games where gameplay and level design are this good.
All in all, weak story aside, “Grand Kingdom” is probably one of the best games on the Vita, and one of the best sRPGs I’ve played since “Jeanne D’Arc” on the PSP.
- Title: Grand Kingdom
- Publisher: NIS America
- Developer: Spike Chunsoft
- Format: Physical / PSN Download
- Memory Card Space Needed:1.6Gb