If you are into strategy RPG’s at all than you have most likely played the Disgaea series by now. If you are a hardcore fan, you’ve already been playing the game the last couple weeks and have leveled your party into the thousands. For those of you that aren’t that fanatical this review is for you.
If you haven’t played the series at all, Disgaea 4 is a turn based strategy RPG where you deploy up to ten characters on a grid based map to defeat your enemies. Your characters acquire experience and mana from defeated enemies. Experience as always levels you up, and you can spend mana to learn and power up abilities. It’s very similar to the Final Fantasy Tactics series if you have played that.
It’s not quite that simple though, as “geoblocks” are on many maps that give corresponding tiles various effects. Sometimes they are beneficial to you, but usually they benefit your enemies. Many maps in the game are more of a puzzle than a fight. You need to figure out how to maneuver around these geo blocks or to destroy them to clear the map.
The story is as always, completely ridiculous. The games cast features a main character is a vampire who eats sardines instead of human blood, a human girl who is dead but thinks she’s dreaming, another girl who training to become the final boss, the Netherworld’s president son Death who is actually a pansy, and a thieving angel. The English voice acting I find to be especially terrible this time around, but thankfully there is an option for the original Japanese language track with subtitles.
The main difference between this fourth entry in the series and the previous installments is that the game has undergone a massive graphical overhaul. It’s not the embarrassing eyesore it’s been in the past. The character models are now all hi res, and the attack animations have undergone a major overhaul for the better as well. Disgaea 4 is much improved over its predecessors, although it’s still not on the level of a game like Final Fantasy XIII.
Story segments are still voice acted with minor animations to show character expressions, still not cut scenes. I feel this system for telling the story is a bit antiquated, and something that should be improved on. There is an animated cutscene when you begin the game. I feel more scenes like this would have been an improvement.
The real meat and potatoes of a Disgaea game will be the gameplay. Like the previous installments, you could literally spend hundreds of hours on this game. It’s stuffed to the gills with extra content, alternate endings, extra characters, and extra maps. The item world is back as always. For those of you unfamiliar, the item world is a random dungeon generator so there are technically infinite maps in the game.
If you want to complete the ultimate challenges of the game, you will be forced to spend countless hours grinding your characters and items to get the stats required to meet these challenges. This often requires repeating the same level over and over again to quickly gain the experience and mana needed to get the stats you are going to need. Maybe I’m just getting old but I just don’t have the patience for this anymore. But if you have the constitution for it, it’s there. Like I said before, you can literally spend hundreds of hours with this game if you want to. Another way to beef up your game hours is the new map editor. You can now create your own maps and share them via PSN while also playing other user created maps.
Because of all the extra content available, the game is only as difficult as your patience allows. If you attempt to rush through the story without going through the item world or previous maps to beef up your levels you will most likely run into problems. However there is nothing preventing you from abusing the item world and other maps and sailing through the story with characters vastly overpowered for what the game intended.
Disgaea 4 is excellent for what it is. It’s a niche title so it doesn’t have to appeal to the whole market, just the market that is looking for a game like this. On that front, the game is a smashing success. It takes the culmination of all the systems of the previous three games and expands and improves them to where everything is perfectly refined. This game is strategy RPG bliss. Not only that, it retails for $49.99. You will get hundreds of hours of entertainment for gaming dollars here.
The downside of being a niche title is that this game is not for everyone. While the graphical enhancements are impressive and much needed, it’s not a graphical power house for those of you that matters to. Also, the basic battle system has been around for almost two decades now. Longer when you realize it’s still a turn based RPG. For those of you who don’t like your RPG’s turn based, this game will not be for you. This game has it’s root in JRPG’s past, and for some us that is good enough. For those of you who don’t like your RPG’s turn based, this game will not be for you. This game has it’s root in JRPG’s past, and for some us that is good enough. For those of you looking for an evolution in RPG’s, look elsewhere.
If you liked any of the previous games of the series, or any other SRPG for that matter, dive right it in. The game is definitely worth $49.99. The game offers hundreds of hours of gameplay for you. For those of you who aren’t into JRPG’s or turn based RPG’s, or if you are any kind of graphics snob, then this game isn’t for you.