Disgaea hits the PS4… with a VENGEANCE.
Having been a fan of the Disgaea series ever since its very first incarnation on the PS2, I’ve followed Nippon Ichi Software’s flagship franchise closely over the years.
While the series has revealed itself to be more keen on being an iterative experience than an innovative or evolutionary one, it has kept my interest throughout the years all the same, thanks to its strong foundation and tweaks/new additions to the gameplay.
Keeping true to their previous inclinations, Disagea 5 proves to be a great game with the same fanatic SRPG gameplay fans have come to expect, but falls short of true excellence due to a misstep in the post-game content.
The story of D5 stars Killia (not to be confused with Killua from HxH), a man with the sole purpose of vengeance in mind.
Throughout his journey, he meets a colorful cast of characters who all share his desire for vengeance against the evil that’s been plaguing all of the netherworlds.
The plot and characters aren’t anything too new or exciting, but there was a bigger emphasis on character development throughout the main story arc and in the end, I found this cast to be a likeable bunch.
From a gameplay standpoint, the SRPG combat in Disgaea is still one of the fastest and most enjoyable in the medium. Turns come and go as fast as the player desires, and there’s no limit to the strategy and out-of-the-box thinking that could employed to snatch victory from the jaws of certain destruction.
The character customization is an abyss of nigh infinite possibilities, and bringing up a character from being a weak and useless peon into a veritable god is as enjoyable as ever.
While it’s nice that D5 still retains the core of what makes Disgaea games so unique in the first place, it’s not without a few new tricks of its own.
The character world has been revamped into a board game of sorts instead of being another version of the item world, and while the novelty does wear off after a while, it is quick enough to get through that I welcomed the change.
There’s also an “Innocent Farm”, where I was able to grow my innocents (transferable stats/effects between items) in between maps, which helped cut down on the tedious nature of gathering innocents.
A fan favorite since its introduction in Disagea:D2, the cheat shop made its return in glorious fashion, with all the bells and whistles I’ve come to expect.
There are the Alchemy, Squads, Curry, Netherworld Explorer and other new mechanics that serve a variety of functions, with Squads being the most important of the bunch.
In fact, I could easily write a twenty page FAQ about all the mechanics in D5 and how they can be used, but I’ll leave that for the player to discover themselves, since I neither have the space nor patience to do so.
Outside of the new mechanics, the jump to the PS4 allows D5 to not only look sharp and run smoothly, but also allows the engine to render a lot more sprites on screen at once.
Still, D5 isn’t without faults, as I’m now forced to say something about a Disgaea game that I never expected.
The post-game content in D5 is weak.
This is shocking because anyone that has ever seen the credits roll on a Disgaea game knows that only when the main storyline is complete does the real game truly begin.
Building up characters to their absolute limits, obtaining godly items, recruiting cameo characters and challenging boss with bonkers stats/abilities is the main draw for the series, but in D5, the post-game content is decidedly lackluster.
There is only one cameo character to acquire that doesn’t belong to the D5 storyline, and my disappointment was palpable when I learned that staple cameo characters like Laharl would be available as DLC and not present within the main game.
The combat scenarios in the post-game pose a fair challenge, but most of them involved generic boss characters which were nothing more than palette swapped normal enemies.
I can only interpret this as the developers simply rushing out the game too early to have all the fun post-game content the fans of series have come to expect, or that they’re intentionally holding back content just to sell them later as DLC.
I sincerely hope that it’s the former over the latter, but either way, it’s a big disappointment all the same.
There’s also the insanely tedious process of gaining stats, which is essential on the road to challenging the tougher fights, which could’ve been balanced better to make it feel less like a mind-numbing chore.
Disgaea 5 could have easily been one of the best games in the series if it wasn’t for the missteps in the post-game content, but even with those faults, the solid SRPG foundation along with a few exciting new tweaks/additions makes it a worthwhile experience all the same.
Fun Tidbit: I currently have no idea of the pricing/release schedule of the DLC planned for D5 but I can’t help but feel greed might be getting the better of them this time around. Hopefully at least Laharl and company will be free additions to keep in tradition with the series.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.