Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance Review
*Disclaimer* NIS America provided a digital review code for the reviewer. This does not affect the reviewer’s thoughts.
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation 4
-Revenge Is A Powerful Tool In War-
Where do I even begin with this game dood? For starters, I’ve only recently began to experience the thrills, anger and laughs for which the Disgaea franchise is known for. My debut into the franchise started with Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited on the Vita and while I generally enjoyed the story, characters and tactical RPG format, tons of information was lost on me; which caused myself to not fully appreciate what the game had to offer. Now with the next installment set to arrive in October, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance has secured a spot on my GOTY list. Why? Because a lot of the details I didn’t get with its predecessor clicked almost instantaneously for me and this allowed for a much better experience. What they say about Disgaea is true: it often takes a second or third go-around before the game finally starts making sense.
In general, the Disgaea games are massive– easily absorbing hundreds of hours and that’s not even including story content. Disgaea 5 is no different when it comes to players dropping countless hours into this single-player experience.vThere’s no way someone could claim this title is “too short”. I wasn’t even halfway into the story when I noticed that 34 hours of my time were already spent utilizing everything Disgaea threw at me and this was just the beginning my friends.
So, what’s the theme surrounding Disgaea 5? Revenge. Good ol’ fashion revenge, which makes perfect sense for a bunch of demons. Disgaea 5 follows multiple main protagonists throughout the story, who band together to take revenge on the tyrannical Overlord Dark Void. Each protagonist has his/her own reason for wanting Dark Void dead and each of them are Overlords from their respected Netherworlds. Killia (the main main protagonist) has some mysterious ties to the tyrant and these ties slowly begin to unravel through story plot points.
In totally, there are 6 main protagonists and each of them are likable in their own way. Seraphina is the demanding Overlord of Gorgeous who wants to control all men as servants, while Red Magnus speaks in third-person and is the all brawn, no brains archetype. Regardless of these 6 characters, even more allies can be recruited for the fight against Dark Void. At one point during the game, I had 65 playable characters I could choose from at any point–each who needed to be micromanaged properly in order to operate at their optimal capacity.
Seraphina’s Pocket Netherworld acts as the game’s hub and it’s here that players pick and choose what to accomplish. In the beginning, the hub will seem empty and won’t offer much but as the game progresses, more options and even more characters will inhabit this space. Players can even customize or make their very own hub at some point– a perfect feature for the creative folks out there.
Like all previous Disgaea titles, using just main protagonists is a surefire way of getting obliterated when the game starts getting tough. Fear not however, because over 30 different types of characters can be obtained and customized. Character recruiting may seem simple on the surface but the amount of thought that goes into this feature truly shows dedication. Picking a character at whim is the wrong approach for strategically bolstering the party. When my party needed a strong defensive, I went for the Armor Knight class since she specializes in “protecting allies with a strong defense”. It would have been foolish of me to choose a Magician, who’s defense base stat is pretty low. It’s extremely important to know which character is needed and to have a well-balanced party.
But wait there’s more! After I would choose the Armor Knight class, a few customization can be made. Obviously picking a name like Girly Girl (That’s a real choice) is important or the player can come up with their own crazy name. Next is the capability type, which is nothing more than tacking on extra base stat points for a price. Using the in-game currency known as HL (I’m not making this up), I can choose from 6 different types, ranking from Good-for-nothing to Genius. Do I want my Armor Knight to remain at level 1?
If I so choose, boosting her level with additional HL is possibly, making it easier for her to jump right into action. And finally, choosing her personality (voice sample) and color doesn’t make her stronger but just adds a cool vibe for characters. Personally, I liked the sadist Girly Girl Armor Knight with her dark colors. Imagine doing all these steps with 65 characters… It’s like managing as small army! Believe me when I say this people– having a small army works wonders down the road. New class types like Dark Knights, Fairies and even Maids allow for even more diversity in this rebel army.
For those who have not ever played this franchise before, let me explain…if one’s party has not leveled up properly, having to restart levels over and over will become a common thing. If it’s not restarting repeatedly, players will have to do the next best thing: grind, grind and more grind! I’m not kidding here folks– I learned the hard way to prepare myself for future battles or I would find myself replaying past levels to get the proper stats I needed. Disgaea 5 has an extremely steep learning curve for beginners that can be overcome by paying attention to the small details and planning ahead.
While Disgaea 5 remains virtually the same as previous titles, new features have been added to bring a fresh take for battles. Keeping with the theme of revenge, all characters can enter what is called “Revenge”. The gauge is located on the character’s portraiture and fills up when friendly units perish/take damage. Lasting for three turns, Revenge is a perfect way to come back from a loss because not only do stats increase greatly but special moves cost only 1 SP (Special Points). Even better, the Overlord characters get a special unique move called Overload. Overload can only be used during Revenge and can alter the flow of battle tremendously. Other slight additions to combat have been added such as Maougis, which acts as a dual special attack between two characters.
I cannot stress enough how important being strategic will work out in the player’s favor over brute force. Luckily for veterans of this series, the overall core mechanics of combat have not deviated drastically from previous installments. Battles take place on a square grid map with each character occupying a single square. The objective of combat is to outmaneuver and overpower enemies by making use of the map’s terrain. Small details such as elevation plays a crucial role in how much damage is taken or delivered. Characters who are much higher can cause more damage than those at a lower elevation.
Geo Panels are still around as well and learning the best way to manipulate these colored squares will aid players in many battles. Each color represents a different kind of advantage or disadvantage. For example, red could equal regen of health while blue decreases defense by half. These colors can be altered by destroying Geo Symbols on top of Geo Panels. Doing so, hurts any unit in the affected range and the panels change to the color of the symbol destroyed. This will either create a new effect or null out the panels entirely– it all depends on what the symbol’s description says.
Which brings me to my next point: descriptions. All units have a description of what effects they cause or even what weapon is most effective on them. Get into the habit of checking all enemy units’ descriptions at the beginning of the battle to know what the best course of action would be and which troops to deploy. If there are plenty of enemies weak to magic attacks, I would deploy more magic-orientated troops etc. If some enemies get stronger by being adjacent to other fellow units, I made sure to keep enemy units spread thin by any means.
Micro-managing allies is half, if not, all of what needs to be done in order to beat the game. When I say micro-managing, I don’t mean just changing armor and weapons– I mean building stats, weapon evolution, skill upgrading and plenty more. For crying out loud, there’s an option to create curry for battle bonuses.
Fun Fact:Curry is actually pretty healthy depending on how it is prepared especially with turmeric, so the health correlation between reality and fantasy impressed me.
One of the most important methods to ensure allies can handle tough opponents is to utilize the Item World tremendously. Item World refers to the option of choosing a weapon, armor or accessory and diving in to evolve said item. Think of Item World as a randomly generated dungeon maker with even more random events and special rooms that occur. The more floors cleared, the better the stats of said item become, which will also make whoever has the equipped item even stronger.
Item World in and of itself can be extremely addictive. After all, each character has 5 item slots and only one item can be evolved in item world at a time. Starting to see where addiction can begin? Yet another new feature would be the Chara World. Similar in theory to the Item World, Chara World is there to help players improve the stats of their party member. Think Mario Party or even better, the Command Board from Birth By Sleep and that pretty much describes the idea behind Chara World.
This game has such a level deep depth to it, addressing each topic individually would be like describing an iceberg; the lower we go, the more expansive it becomes. Between the micro-managing of troops and their strengths to the strategic combat, the only true way to understand what Disgaea 5 offers is to have firsthand experience. Because of how large a task it would be to try and explain every aspect, learning through action is how newcomers to the series should proceed. Between my review hopefully catching the attention of curious onlookers and the already available demo on PSN, Disgaea 5 could quite possibly be someone’s pleasant debut into the franchise and that would please me.
+ High replay value
+ Deep strategy combat
+ Good story full of humor and revenge
+ Enjoyable soundtrack
– Steep difficult will push people away
I can’t express enough how much I thoroughly enjoyed Disgaea 5 and while it pains me to say it, I know this game will remain only within the niche it has created. SRPGs are tough on their own and Disgaea 5 pulls no punches for those who ignore or don’t get the mechanics. People looking for a game to hold their hands probably won’t like this seeing how the game tends to leave the player to their own devices. I definitely recommend a rental at the very least for curious gamers as I already know fans are impatiently waiting on the game to drop. Won’t be much longer now: Disgaea 5 will arrive exclusively on the PlayStation 4 October 6th dood!
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