A turn-based RPG mixed with trading card game mechanics, Grand Guilds offers a slightly different approach on traditional RPG by mixing the best of both into one game. We’re playing around with the demo version of Drix Studios and Keybol Games’ latest opus. But before proceeding, please be warned:

A Grand Fantasy with Simplistic Audiovisuals

Grand Guilds takes place in the world of Irin. The story picks up 7 years after the events that have unfolded in the opening cutscene/tutorial. The player takes control of the game’s female protagonist Eliza Halfort and her companions in the Lux Deus Guild. Eliza returns to Ozryn City where her guild mates are, only to be met with all sorts of unwelcoming entities.

While not exactly overflowing with grandiose graphics, Grand Guilds art style and animations works best on its own by holding a simplistic approach to design, similar to that of The Banner Saga series. The visual novel style of dialogue doesn’t offer players that much of an option or interaction and tends to be more of a linear storytelling game rather than an RPG. But considering this is still a demo, we can expect a more nuanced script and dialogue in the full version.

Grand Guilds delivers the right amount of thematic background music for all its cutscenes and as well as in combat. Although lacking with full voice dialogues, Grand Guilds does include short voice lines that serves as a guide for players in identifying the dialogue on how it was conveyed and expressed. But then again, these voice lines do tend to be repetitive after quite some time. Sound effects, mostly in combat, seem lackluster especially when performing spells or special attacks.

Tactical Deck Building

With its turn-based strategy combat, Grand Guilds delivers a variety of carefully crafted set of characters, each with unique sets of skills at your disposal. The card based combat mechanic gives a unique take on the whole tactical RPG genre, since the entire strategy would solely rely on the cards that you’re dealt with at the start of every fight. All of these available cards can be customized and arranged on your loadout/deck for each character. Each turn, a character is only allowed a limited set of moves. Action Points (AP) is spent whenever the player commands the characters to perform certain actions or spells, giving it a chess-like combat environment while also allowing the players to maximize and carefully strategize their next move towards victory. Thankfully the game features an “undo” option for the most recent action limited to one step back.

However, the dynamic style of combat won’t always be in the party’s favor. It’s never safe to assume that fights will be easy, and the deck-building feature of Grand Guilds forces players to approach combat wisely and experiment on different deck combinations, understanding which of the abilities will work best on any given situations. Build the wrong deck and this will only prolong your inevitable journey towards a crushing defeat. It’s through deck-building, turn-based movements, and tactical grid movement that Grand Guilds constantly keep players at the edge in a thankful and welcoming challenge.

(Not so) Final Verdict

Grand Guilds has already establish a good foundation for its characters and gameplay but still has a lot to improve on with its overall content and level of detail. The card battle system is truly a unique and challenging approach for a turn-based RPG. However, the demo’s linear storyline has yet to make an immersive experience. While the demo has been enjoyable, it has yet to leave an impression, even with the optional side quests present after the main story. Aside from its card-based combat, Grand Guilds hasn’t got much to offer as of the moment, but it shows a lot of potential, especially in its deck-building and tactical combat features. It would be lovely to see how this game will flourish into a full blown RPG as it carries on with development. Until then, it’s still interesting to wait for the game’s commercial release. We’ll get back to this game once it goes gold, and finally see if Grand Guilds is worth the purchase.

Download the demo here.

Grand Guilds will be available for the PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Playstation 4 soon.

Reviewed and Written by: Eddy Lastimosa

The Play Around is OTK Gaming‘s not-so review segment, where we provide simple insights and first impressions on upcoming games and current releases