Grand Kingdom - PS Vita Review

With the Beta stage behind it and the Lite Demo currently available for PlayStation Vita users to try everything out, the full version of Grand Kingdom is now available on this system. With seventeen different classes in order to make four person squads with four separate nations in order to fight for, there are more than enough combat scenarios for your band of mercenaries to take part in both on and offline.

Quick Notes

It should be noted that for anyone having already played the Beta, and more recently the Lite Demo, that the introduction is the same. The introduction is an overview of the systems with a base tutorial that is used in order to get a player settled into their role as mercenary leader. Once battle has been explained, there are two following scenarios that must be completed before access to the online features are granted.

As I've understood it, the Lite Demo gives access to this same content with the ability to port the save file into the full version. With a few issues currently on-going as per Prinny Bomb Issue #559 (I'm subscribed to emails don't judge me!), or their blog post, the PS4's Lite Demo should be releasing alongside the digital version with the physical versions coming out next week. Alas, all of this aside, you're all here for the Vita doods. Welcome to a visually more compact yet still Grand Kingdom!

Not so Quick Notes (The Review!)

For everyone else tuning in for the first time, Grand Kingdom is an Online Centric Single Player Strategy RPG (SRPG) that combines the actions of players across the world in a semblance of real time. Joining up with one of the four Nations in order to go to war is not a permanent choice instead allowing players work through contracts for anywhere between one to five wars granting bigger bonuses the longer you stick around. This honestly makes things much easier in order to keep track of instead of having to switch between save files. Even if there was a worry of saving over a file it's not to worry as Grand Kingdom being online centric supports an automatically enabled auto-save.

In the beginning choosing one nation over another will not reduce or improve your relations with them. Where relations start to improve or worsen are when your send your mercenaries on nation specific quests and actually head out for war against one of the others. For the sake of, well Landerth as I haven't joined any other Beta stage or otherwise, there are some nations that I can't even send my troops on quests for because they basically hate me. That's alright, I have large shoulders and plenty of other places in order to find my quests. In regards to these wars though, there's more than one way to join in but there's only one way to win. Kick the crap out of everyone that stands in your Mercenary Troops' way!

Base of Operations

Before setting out onto the field a lot of time will be spent in the main hub going over lots of little details such as squad groupings, equipment loadouts, reviewing policies, shopping, and deciding whether or not to head out to war or take on a few quests for more experience and cash. Over time this won't seem like much but in the beginning it can be a bit of an adjustment especially having come in from two missions on the field without having to worry about any of it.

The most important at the very start are policies in which you, the player and the leader of the mercenaries, choose which faction in order to fight for. Once a nation has been decided on comes the next choice of how long do you want to stay with them. Up to five wars can be chosen in which the rewards will be better but it also means that if you wish to leave the penalties will be higher. If you wish to leave not only will your reputation suffer but it'll also be a hefty financial hit to your mercenary squad's wallet. If you really wish to leave, best wait for the duration of the war to be up or take on some quests that won't make you look worse in the eyes of the one you wish to move over to.

Working with policies are more than simply choosing which nation to work for. Performance out in the field plays a big part as there are three categories of Training, Reward, and Honor can be enhanced. Upgrading Training can be done by accomplishing feats such as dealing 1500 points of damage in battle and will increase the amount of experience gained in quests and battles. Rewards, which increase the amount of gold gained from quests, battles, and operations, can be acquired by tasks such as creating items at the blacksmith for example. Finally Honor can be upgraded by destroying enemy forces during quests for example and increases the amount of Royals that are gained from quests, battles, and operations.

What are Royals you ask? Grand Kingdom works on two forms of currency. The first of the two is gold which is used to buy items and equipment from the store before heading out into the field. Royals are the second form of currency that requires the party to move out of their base of operations and into one of the nation's capitals. Any capital that belongs to a nation that yours is currently at war with obviously cannot be visited for that duration. By visiting the market you can either enter the nation's national shop or the trading post in order to spend this second set of currency that doesn't come in as high volumes as gold.


The final stages of policy management are hiring or dismissing mercenaries to join your squads. Each potential addition starts at level one and comes with an increasing hiring fee depending on how many bonus points they start with. Points thereafter will come around on leveling up and can be put in wherever needed. Raising a troop's rank for their stats can be done by training through manuals to make an F into a E, or a D into a C, so on and so forth but comes at the steep price of returning to level 1.

With four classes to experiment with back in the Beta things seemed to flow rather nicely and there were strategies that could be built around these squad compositions. With seventeen classes things become much more intense. Of the seventeen classes there are "doubles" in a sense of the word but on a whole they play out different enough to warrant being more than simple Male or Female variations of one another. On a grand scheme each class plays out differently from the next even if they are similar in their abilities making there no wrong choices but instead more for you to figure out exactly what works for you.

With all of the directions of "four" (four units in a troop, four nations to fight for, four re-spawning quest types per day) how did they make it to seventeen classes? With Male and Female of most types there's one class that stands on its own and counts for two units. The Dragon Mage. This Witch sits atop of a Dragon and regardless of the level difference she's not to be messed with as her dragon looks hungry.

Quests and going to War

Once all of the policies have been taken care of and sorted away, it's time to hit the field. This can be done by either selecting a quest or going to a region that your nation is currently at war in. This portion of gameplay is easy enough with players controlling their squad that is in the visual form of a chess piece which starts off as a pawn and can be changed in time.

This chess piece that represents your squad moves along a game board and every move is considered one turn. As combat can take multiple turns, once it has been completed and your squad is back onto the back board it is possible to see what the other pieces have done during these turns. While on the field squads can use abilities to either strengthen themselves, heal up, or weaken enemies with points that can be acquired in combat. Using these appropriately can change harder encounters into more simple ones if done right.

Either of these decisions brings about a similar gameplay experience though one requires a purely online connection and the other does not.

Going to War - Troop Deployment vs Dispatching (Online)

With many squads that can be formed it's not really possible to use them all at the same time. In order to make sure that no one really gets left behind, idle squads can be sent out to the battlefields in order to be CPU controlled by the Nation that you've joined up with. Don't expect these squads to rake in the victories however as when these squads are deployed all they have access to are their abilities and whatever the CPU decided to do with them. This more often than not, which after reviewing several replays which are available when calling them back, leads to the the CPU favouring setting traps instead of simply going for the kill which would have resulted in a clean sweep.

The other reason that Deployed Troops are at a disadvantage is that Dispatched Troops are player controlled and can have up to six members with the fifth and sixth members being hired mercenaries from other players to join your squad for the duration of the sortie. Hiring other mercenaries requires gold which is immediately transferred over the network's features to the player that deployed the merc to the field of battle. This is also a good source of gold revenue. Having six members plus obstacles and flags which can boost a unit's action guage for example can result in some rather one sided battles depending upon the mercenaries' levels.

Quests and Exploration (Offline)

Quests unlike going to war are done at the player's pace and online connection is not required as everything is Player vs CPU. Other nation's troops may be involved but unlike going to war, breaks can be taken and the quest resumed if you had to walk away which would result in no penalties. Quests are a good way to earn experience, gold, and royals to better your troops before launching into war if you feel that your troops are either underleveled or under geared.

If Quests with predetermined timelines are not really in your squads books there is one other option. Exploration of the land can be done at any point in time in order to roam around and get into as many battles as possible in order to level up. More and more regions open up with tougher opponents becoming available every time your highest level mercenary levels up even further.


Combat comes in three flavours. Vanilla, Chocolate, and Mango. The Prinnies may be disappointed in no Sardine flavour but that's just the way it goes doods. In all seriousness though, combat technically falls into two main styles with Melee being the first and Ranged / Magic being the second. As Magic and Ranged attacks use the same base they could be considered "the same" but on a deeper level they are on wholly different playing fields.

Regardless of the style chosen combat all plays out in the same manner whether taking on quests of heading out onto the fields of battle. Set up in three lanes combat is turned based with the highest initiative mercenaries playing first all the way to the end of the turn. Mercenaries have two gauges. The first is movement and the second is action. Movement is reduced by running forward or backwards as well as changing lane. Action is taken up when setting up traps, using abilities, or launching an attack on an enemy. Any leftover movement can be used to continue attacking once the Action Gauge is depleted making it useful to not have to move far or make sure that ranged characters are in fact, within range.


Melee characters technically have it easier than the other two. All that they need to do is run up and hit the enemy straight on. This can be done either by setting up a character to be configured for a Simple Operation Mode which means that attacks will be set up in a 1-2-3-4 pattern in which are done by hitting the O button or by having more control in a Technical setup. Setting up Technical gives a lot more control as to which skills are used when. This really comes down a personal preference as I've hired units that have come in both styles.


Ranged characters can generally be found in the back raining death from above. Hunters and Archers can rain arrows of a variety of styles from normal to poison or paralyzation. While not being the strongest, with how far back they are there's plenty of time in order to damage and make it over any obstacles that may have been placed for melee units by carefully shooting over barricades.


Finally magic characters are more of a mid ranged combat solution needing to be a bit closer to the action but unlike ranged units can purposefully hit more than one target with their mystical energies. Fire, Ice, Earth, and a Shaman's HP stealing Death looking magic are all very scary when roaring down the lane and picking up any units that lay in their way. Just be careful not to target your own.

Specifics to the PS Vita System

A thought, and possible a worry that I once had was how things would translate from a larger screen down to the much smaller Vita. The text at times can feel a bit small as it uses the same ratios that the PS4's version supported. Without a way in order to make these larger, bringing the screen closer is about the only solution short of using a PSTV to blow it up onto a much larger screen. Doing so makes all the text legible but unlike the smaller and more compact Vita or the PS4 itself, the visuals lose a bit in their quality making it a trade off for size vs quality.

The only warning that I would give about switching between the Vita and the PSTV is to make sure that the Vita is either OFF or the wireless disabled before playing on the PSTV. If left on, the Vita will sync back to the PSN and kick you off which is very bad when performing online battles as part of a war. First you are not let back in, and second any rewards that could have been obtained are lost.

The End of a War (Sounds Better than Conclusion)

Grand Kingdom is a highly addictive tactic based experience that blends both online and offline very well. While there are incentives to play online and obtain experience and equipment faster, the offline modes sport quests and manners in order to level or re-level troops as needed without worrying about that monthly bandwidth cap. Just make sure to log in once a day to climb the ladder of attendance rewards!

Game Information

Sony PlayStation Vita / TV
Spike Chunsoft
Nippon Ichi Software America
Strategy RPG
Single Player Online “Versus”
Other Platform(s):
Sony PlayStation 4

Article by Pierre-Yves
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