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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
8.5
Visuals
8.0
Audio
7.0
Gameplay
8.5
Features
8.5
Replay
9.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 4
PUBLISHER:
NIS
DEVELOPER:
NIS
GENRE: Strategy
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
October 6, 2015
ESRB RATING:
Teen
 Written by Stephen Varner  on September 23, 2015

Reviews: A rewarding game of seemingly endless cycles of character leveling and grinding.


”Disgaea

Disgaea 5 is Nippon Ichi Software's series debut for the PS4. Alliance of Vengeance is a multilayered strategy RPG that bands a colorful cast of characters together who share a desire to topple the evil Lord Void Dark. Disgaea 5 is a game that is all about micromanaging a ton of different systems and characters in order to maximize the effectiveness of your ever swelling army.

The Lord Void Dark is kicking up quite a fuss with the various netherworlds and in the process is making a ton of enemies. Over the course of your time with the game you'll recruit and train up many of the leaders, residents and monsters of these lands in their shared desire for vengeance. The story itself isn't terribly inventive or interesting as it falls down the "big baddie threatening all of reality" trope that so many JRPG's and anime play into. In the same way that the best of these genres often show is that it's more about the characters that inhabit the overarching story that make the engagement compelling. In this way I feel Disgaea mostly succeeds. While your main player character Killia can be a bit too much the eye roll inducing brood it's fairly easy to overlook with a supporting cast that's a bit more entertaining in the way they interact with each other. The dialogue between them is often funny or at least interesting as it digs into what these characters think of each other and what their histories are. While some of the mini skits that play out in the hub world aren't voice acted the personality of the characters shine through well enough in the written dialogue that it was never too jarring. The voice acting itself does a fine enough job playing into the catchphrase laden delivery I'm used to seeing in the type of anime that Disgaea presents itself as and was never itself all that distracting in a negative way. Sera can at times be a bit overbearing with her "All men are my servants" attitude but I didn't have any great problems with the characters and how their back stories were explored.



The meat of the game is the battles that play out on the isometric planes of the various Netherworlds you'll visit. These battle grids will vary in size, elevations and enemy deployments in ways that will test your tactical brain to constantly dig deeper into an almost overwhelming number of battle systems. At its most basic and like all games of this type you'll use your turn to position your army around the grid in order to strategically take down enemies a little bit at a time or in one fell swoop. Your ability to do so will hinge directly on character levels and how well you plan your assault. The lift and throw mechanic for example is a way to position multiple characters many spaces away from where they'd be able to move on their own but be warned, throwing will count as a turn action and that character will not be able to throw and attack in the same turn. During your turn you can also use special abilities, attack, defend, use items as well as main character specific "overload" abilities in order gain the upper hand. This system plays off of the "Revenge" meter that fills up as allies take damage. It's an interesting wrinkle that can sometimes lead to it being advantageous to have some characters take some hits in order to buff your others with special abilities. Once you've locked in all your characters and hit execute the battle will play out until the end of the enemy turn. It can be extremely satisfying to watch your careful planning blossom into a bevy of critical hits and character linked specials that occur when main characters are placed near one another. All this in an effort to maximize your damage output and get better battle ratings at the end of the stage to get better rewards based on your performance. It's a system that encourages you to go back and play previously completed stages in order to earn a variety of rewards including each stage’s ultimate reward that can be earned only once with your best possible completion rating. It was interesting returning to earlier stages after building quite a bit and applying new strategies to familiar encounters.

When you're not battling you'll be returned to Seraphina's pocket Netherworld home base where you'll be able to heal, shop for items and skills as well as accept side quests from the appropriate vendors. From here you'll also pour HL, the game’s main currency, into the recruiter in order to create more personnel to grow your ranks. It's a character creation system for your grunts and monsters of various classes that allow you to distribute skill points, assign a personality type and character color that you'll then hire to fight for you. Being able to name and assign specific icons according to their intended specialties was a nice way to keep track of who's doing what and made positioning them on the battlefield that much faster. It's a fairly addictive loop of level and resource grinding that feeds my need to see ever higher damage numbers during battle. The downside to this level grind heavy style of progression is that I wasn't always sure what I should be doing in order to move the main story forward. Especially early on. There's no shortage of tasks to accept from the quest vendor so any time I was unsure about what to do I'd just start checking things off my mountain of pending quests so I could accept a whole new batch and keep the level grind going. There's no shortage of stuff to do and there's enough here to keep you busy for dozens and dozens of hours. The item world alone has enough levels and treasures to keep you going back in to level your characters between missions.

”Disgaea


The anime style of the visuals is well represented and the art of the many characters and enemies pop with personality. The 2D animations of the sprites look a little out of place against their backgrounds but can be forgiven for how clean, sharp and smooth everything looks. It all comes together nicely to produce something that stands out from the crowd.

Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is a deep, rewarding game of seemingly endless cycles of character leveling and grinding. This is a game that should make happy those that like to micromanage a large number of things across multiple characters in order to maximize their effectiveness in battle but the trade off is a steep learning curve of systems for new players to wrap their heads around. The characters and story are perhaps a bit cliche at times but ultimately their often funny personalities and dialogue kept me invested enough that I wanted to keep going to see the next interaction between them. Players willing to put the time in will find a highly replayable set of encounters and challenges with more advanced characters and strategies.

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