Time to get strategic “dood!”.
The Disgaea series has always been a reliable source for a solid tactical role-playing experience and the newest entry in the series,Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, continues that tradition.
The game takes place in the Netherworld, as did installments before it. This parallel universe is inhabited by demons with different moral values than the ones humans are accustomed too. The main characters often act cynical, selfish and generally feel opposite to what you would expect heroes to be like. This change of pace is refreshing, letting the characters comedic wit shine, as they have no limits to what they can say or do.
You play as Valvatorez, a Vampire who was once a feared tyrant, but has since fallen. He now has a job training Prinnies, humans who take the embodiment of penguin like creatures after they die to pay for their sins, with his loyal werewolf servant Fenrich. After the government orders the extermination of all the Prinnies, Valvatorez starts a revolution to end the corruption in the government all because of a promise he refuses to break. While this plot might sound serious, and at times it can show emotion, it mainly consists of characters being in their own world, focusing on what they want and brushing off everything else. This makes for some delightful exchanges between personalities and creates enthusiasm for the characters journey. The voice acting is phenomenal, bringing these characters to life and elevating the effective comedy to another level. I cared about every character in Disgaea 4.
Gameplay is accustomed to what you expect from a SRPG. You command a team by deciding which member will go where and what they will do on a grid based landscape in a turn-based fashion. If you have played Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics you will feel right at home. Disgaea 4 does pull some new stuff from out of its hat, including the geo system, making you not only think about character placement, but how the landscape affects you as well. Some portions of land will have stats; defense boost, attack boost, etc, which you can change by destroying geo blocks on them. There is also the tower mechanic where you can stack multiple characters on top of each other to perform destructive special moves. None of the new things Disgaea 4 brings to the genre are groundbreaking, but everything is as solid as it gets.
Strategy is the name of the game. Every move is meant to be analyzed and carefully thought out, and I love that about this game.Disgaea 4 made me use my brain. I wasn’t just doing what the game wanted me to do, I was creating my own path and doing things my way. No two battles were the same. Sometimes I would rearrange blocks on the field so that I could climb on top of them and get a good vantage point on my enemies, othertimes I would fuse characters together to take out tough opponents. Quite a few of these battles don’t progress the story, feeling like a way to mask the grinding.
The stats in the game are enormous, even allowing characters to max out at level 9999. A vast majority of these levels are saved for post game, so don’t worry about a 250 hour grind getting in the way of enjoying the game to completion. On top of leveling your characters, Disgaea 4 has tons of RPG elements to increase your characters stats. Weapons, armor, items, specials, evilitys, a campaign map where you control your own senate, it is a lot to keep track of. As the game progresses, more characters join your team and you can even create your own characters, which you can guess makes quite a large team. I would have preferred a more streamlined way for managing your team, instead of having to meticulously make sure each member has the best equipment and moves possible between each battle. You will easily spend a quarter of your game time just managing your team.
Graphically, the game is beautiful. A heavily anime inspired design choice means that characters are lively and expressive. Hand drawn characters are used for dialogue, while they are represented as little sprites in gameplay. These are some of the most well designed sprites I have ever seen. The game even pokes fun at how far the graphics have come with one character not receiving her, “HD treatment”, and looking immensely blurry. Backgrounds are also stunning, using lots of color and creative styles. The graphics are accompanied by a delightful soundtrack. The score feels fitting wherever you are. My favorite song, one that plays in your home base, is a mix of light piano, violin, and slight humming, making the atmosphere feel like a vampire’s lair.
All too often games won’t use your mind to its full capacity, leaving you feeling like you are just going through the motions the game has planned out for you. Disgaea 4 always makes you feel like you are playing the game the way you want too, keeping you attentive and excited to succeeded. If you are looking to satisfy your strategy role-playing fix, look no further.
Note: The Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited review was written based on a digital Playstation Vita version of the game.