The PlayStation 2 was the console that really got me into JRPGs, but for some inexplicable reason I never managed to Disgaea. I know what you’re thinking. “How could you miss out on a series so popular that it’s on the sixth installment?” Yes, Disgaea 5 is actually the sixth game in the series. It’s simple really; I just never got around to it.
Not even on the PS3, despite the fact that I had heard about the series from a good friend of mine for years. You see, it wasn’t until 2013 that I got back into JRPGs after forgetting about them entirely for a substantial part of my life and by that time it was too late — there were already too many games in the series. Little did I know that the games are only loosely connected with each title possessing a different story.
With Disgaea 5 on the horizon and now having that knowledge, I decided I had to play it. So I set out to get my hands on it and despite a few setbacks — sorry guys, but I had to take a small break — I finally managed to complete the game. Or at least the story portion of it. As it turns out, there’s a lot to do in Disgaea 5, but the first thing you’ll be doing is making your way through the story.
The story itself is quite long though it’s not exactly complex. Disgaea 5 tasks you with raising a rebel army in order to defeat Void Dark, the big bad. This guy is on a conquest to take over all of the netherworlds and it’s your job to stop him (of course it is). That’s the thing about the story in Disgaea 5 — it’s formulaic to a fault. But just because it sticks to a formula doesn’t mean that it isn’t entertaining enough to keep you going. The writing itself, while cliche, does a good enough job of fleshing out the characters as they journey from beginning to the end and ultimately defeat Void Dark.
There are a lot of tropes here which makes the story quite predictable. It might not be anything out of the ordinary but it isn’t necessarily boring either. While the characters might face some run of the mill challenges, they do have their own personalities which grow along with their skills and abilities as you make your way through the story. Killia, for example, starts off as a dark and brooding character with a thirst for revenge — but he eventually transcends that to become something more. I couldn’t help but find myself enthralled with that aspect of the characters.
Of course when it comes to JRPGs, the biggest factor is how the game plays. Based on what I’ve read on various message boards and from what my friends have told me, if you’ve played Disgaea games in the past you’ll know what to expect with Disgaea 5. But if you haven’t, as was the case with me, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting the hang of things. It’s your basic tried and true tactical RPG formula with a few bells and whistles. But those bells and whistles ultimately lend a lot to Disgaea 5.
You have your overload skills, which are unique skills that you can choose to activate once the revenge gauge is full, that offer a lot of power and control. Killia might not have one but the rest of overlords you’ll come across in your travels do. Seraphina, for example, has an overload skill called Balor Gaze which lets her charm male opponents. Red Magnus, on the other hand, has an overload called Super Olympia which allows him to grow in size and do more damage. You might not use these often, but they’re great for boss fights and tough opponents.
Outside of combat, a majority of the game takes place inside your pocket netherworld where you have access to quests, shops, and various other unique functions that become available as you progress through the game. The quests are important because they allow you to unlock additional classes to add to your forces via the recruiter. While you initially start with 11 characters, the roster becomes increasingly more versatile and robust as you complete the necessary quests.
You can also bolster your pool of classes with additional DLC. I didn’t purchase the DLC, but I probably will at some point after reading how useful some of the classes are. To some it might feel as if they’re being locked out of the rest of the classes but I didn’t find any problem making my way through the game with the base classes that I was able to unlock.
Disgaea 5 also features The Dark Assembly, a mainstay of the series, which allows you to spend mana — a currency in the game obtained through battles that allows for unlocking abilities among other things — to pass bills that allow your shop to carry more items, to find more areas, or to just unlock and modify cosmetics. As you move through the game you’ll unlock squads which offer benefits to individual units dependent on what squad they’re placed in. You’ll also gain access to netherworld research, which allows you to send units to other netherworlds in order to gather materials and prisoners which you can use to strengthen squads. It’s at this point that you start to realize just how much Disgaea 5 has to offer and this is all before you complete the story.
There are also a number of distractions that allow you to level up your character’s stats and items such as Item World and Chara World, a neat little board game. In my playthrough I didn’t spend too much time on either, primarily because I didn’t want to put too much time into them before finishing the review. It’s just a testament to how much time you can truly spend in Disgaea 5. Between quests, the story, and a bit of grinding, I managed to rack up an impressive 60 hours — and that’s just pre-game. Once you’re done with that, there’s quite a bit of post-game content as well to keep you busy.
At the time of this review, I haven’t delved too much into the post-game but I did a bit of research to find that it’s quite extensive. I’ve seen some players list their playtime at 200 hours and above. Considering that this is a full-priced retail title, that’s pretty solid when compared to most AAA games. I’m not quite there yet but after spending the equivalent of two and a half days in the game, I’m pretty confident when I say that Disgaea 5 is absolutely worth buying at full-price. Especially if you’re a fan of the Disgaea franchise. There’s enough content to keep you busy for a while and even the grinding doesn’t feel like a chore.
Disgaea 5 is one of those rare games that is fun enough to keep you entertained but also offers enough depth to keep you interested for a while. It’s so good, in fact, that I’m actually planning on acquiring the platinum trophy. A feat that I only tend to accomplish on games that can keep me playing. It’s the perfect way for the franchise to start on this generation of consoles and you’d be amiss if you weren’t thinking about picking it up. I highly recommend it for any strategy RPG fan with a PS4. But hey, if you’re not sure, you can always check out the demo. Did I mention that your save in the demo will transfer to the full game? Yeah, it’s awesome.
I think it’s time for me to pick up the Disgaea Triple Play Collection.
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: 10/6/15
- Great tactical RPG gameplay
- Plenty of stuff to do, before and after the story
- Lots of customization, from the characters to your netherworld
- A kickass soundtrack
- A predictable story, though the characters and their quirks do make up for it
- Lots of complex mechanics with long tutorials might scare some off
Disclaimer: A copy of Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance was provided to BentoByte by the publisher for the purpose of review.Tweet