It has been twelve years since the first Disgaea game was introduced in early 2003. The tactical RPG series was met with high regard and since then we have seen several iterations across the Sony platforms, including its handhelds. Disgaea 5: Allegiance of Vengeance is the first in the series to come onto the PS4 platform and fans of the series are probably wondering if it is more of the same and did developer, Nippon Ichi Software, change the formula?
Like other entries in the series, the fifth Disgaea takes place in the Netherworld, a place where demons reside that have kingdoms spread across it. Killia, an aloof warrior that is hell bent on revenge towards the antagonist of this entry, Demon Emperor, Void Dark. Circumstances occur where he inevitably helps the young, narcissistic princess demon named, Seraphina in which she asks (selfishly demands) for his help on her quest to destroy their common enemy.
Along the way we meet a Breakfast Club like array of characters like, Red Magnus; the muscle head jock, Christo; the nerdy healer who may have other plans in mind. Through strange circumstances these unlikely hero’s all have the same goal to defeat Void Dark even if some rather do it single handedly.
Fortunately, for those who have never played a Disgaea game, like us, it is easy to understand thanks to the great tutorials in terms of battle system. However, the menu system could have done been a bit more in the way of teaching the player what each section means. It is not hard to figure out once you get into the second chapter of the game and when Disgaea starts getting into the meat of the story, especially in the third chapter, then managing your characters becomes much more relevant than one may think in the beginning.
Like any JRPG, or any Disgaea for that matter, there may great bit of level grinding involved once you hit an area that makes the player think about coming into battle in a different way or to even choose a different weapon. Like your special attacks, you also level up your rating with certain weapons as you use them. If you are a player that is used to certain weapons coinciding with certain characters, then Disgaea may be hard to take on, but taking on tasks like visiting previous areas to get used to new weapons is more rewarding than a hindrance.
The game is divided into two separate sections, a base of operations that is controlled by Seraphina which is essentially where you talk to other members in your team, weapon and items shops, a recruitment center where you can get new members added to your team, and the local medic that heals your party. Fans of JRPG may also find that talking to certain members of the team will bring up humorous side skits that is comparable to the skits in the Tales series. The other is the different areas in the Netherworld, which is quite linear in terms of story; after you beat one area and another opens up and then you proceed to that area to progress.
One issue for some could be that its linearity may be a fault as a lot of RPG’s in general give you a reason to visit those area, for inventory purposes for example. While there is no reason to go back to a previous area other than to get your characters leveled up, there are side quests that you can choose to explore from your base of operations but there is not much showmanship in those side quests. In fact most of the time, you may not realize that you are even completing a quest until it tells you after the fact.
This tactical, isometric view RPG is all about the attack combos. While it is not necessary to do so, the rewards can be lucrative and funny. When a combo attack is executed with a couple characters, a gauge fills up and once it does that takes you up a rewards level. When the battle ends you get rewards based on how many times you filled up the combo gauge where items, extra XP, and weapons can be attained. Watching one character pick up another and use their body to beat the enemy can be entertaining.
Revenge mode, from what we understand, is new to the franchise this time around. This typically occurs in the middle of battle when an ally gets attacked or dies. When the revenge meter fills up you can unleash a power that can go great damage for a few turns depending in the character. Some characters can become bigger while others simply mystify the enemies to attacking one another.
It has already been mentioned that there is a recruiting tool within Disgaea 5 that allows you to pick from warriors, thieves and mages. Other than the name and how much money, known as HL (Hell), that you decide to dump into the characters stats, there is not much in the way of customization as you only have a few palettes to choose from.
The English localization, like most Japanese to English translations of games, was something left to be desired. Not with the American voice actors themselves, but some of the dialogue that was translated. However, this is a minor complaint, and shouldn’t keep one from buying the game when it releases. In fact, simply change the audio to Japanese is it does get under your skin.
Disgaea 5 is eye catching. This is one of the most colorful games that is on the PS4 platform and we glad for that. The level designs are done quite well and the characters animations in an isometric perspective are great. In terms of the graphics going from the PS3 to the PS4, there is not a whole lot of difference in the look. Colors are sharper and animations may be a little more fluid, but in the grand scheme of it all, it’s a Disgaea game and fans of the series shouldn’t be disappointed this time around.
Colorful, silly, and detailed in it combat and leveling system, there is very little to say that is negative about this entry. Tactical JRPG fans will probably enjoy this game, especially if they enjoyed the other entries in the past. Aside of some of the delivery of dialogue in its English localization, Disgaea is indeed enjoyable and had turned this reviewer to a fan of the series.