It’s been 10 years since the release of the original Disgaea: Hour of Darkness and develope’r Nippon Ichi Software has returned to deliver a direct sequel with Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness. Last year I got my first taste of the Disgaea series on the PlayStation Vita with Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention, leaving me hungry for more SRPG action with a quirky twist. A Brighter Darkness continues the story of the lovable and fan-favorite cast of Laharl, Etna and Flonne, after Laharl successfully becomes the overlord of the netherworld, although the rest of the demons aren’t too thrilled.
Without playing the original title on the PS2, I felt comfortable right from the start, thanks to the inclusion of the familiar gameplay elements I enjoyed in Disgaea 3. The combat stays true to the series, with turn-based encounters across varied and detailed grid-based landscapes. Without a doubt, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is the best looking Disgaea game to-date, featuring bright and colorful looking sprites. In staying with the classic Disgaea visuals however, the environments are lacking when compared to other recent SRPG titles. Luckily, the most important aspect – the gameplay – is spot on.
The stat altering Geo Panels make a return, playing an integral role in dispatching Laharl’s enemies. If you haven’t played any of the recent Disgaea games, the Geo Panels add specific stats to specific squares on the grid. Standing on it may provide additional healing percentage, perfect for healer characters, while others may increase your attack or defense rating. Be warned, enemies are able to take advantage as well, turning every encounter into a chess match of strategy and feigns.
Enemies will gang up on your weaker characters using combined special attacks, move into flanking positions and even use the Geo Panels to their advantage. If you’re the type of player that prefers to utterly destroy everything on screen, destroying the Panels can lead to a chain reaction, causing massive damage across the entire grid (even your own characters).
A Brighter Darkness has a few tricks up its sleeve, including new gameplay elements, such as monster mounts. Trying them out with various characters, I was able to increase the amount of spaces allowed to move in a single turn, but at the cost of only performing one action. Normally you are able to move and choose whether or not you want to attack or use a special ability in a single turn. When you are on a mount, you have to either attack (which isn’t a bad idea as the attack is super powerful) or move across the grid. The mounts also take all incoming damage, keeping your hero away from harm. And no, deep down I feel an ounce of remorse sending all of those Prinnies to their graves, does that make me a monster?
The fan-favorite Item World returns, allowing you to jump inside your favorite custom-named weapon and battle through an endless amount of randomly-generated floors. To alleviate the boring “grind”, pirates will intermittently appear, forcing you to stay on your guard and your team replenished. If you are lucky, you’ll get to battle against the treasure stealing Prinny pirates, dood!
By earning points in encounters, you are able to customize and create your own characters. Everything from the class to their voice can be altered. If you can’t think of a fitting name for your new anti-hero, try using the random name generator to find a name that fits perfectly with the wacky theme of the series.
Those that played the original Disgaea will be delighted in the reunion of their favorite characters in a solid direct sequel. The lengthy story in Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness may not be as deep as the rest of the series, but I did enjoy the engaging combat and the quirky humor.
Note: The Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness review was written based on the PS3 version of the game.