The strategy RPG series known as Disgaea has been a huge surprise for me over the last few years. While I passed the original releases over due to my distaste for strategy role playing games, I realized the error of my ways when I received a review code for a prior entry a few years back. I had a blast with it and was excited to see how this series would translate to the PS4. Ultimately it’s still the essence of what makes the series Disgaea, for good or bad, and even approachable by beginners. So don’t be afraid, jump into the netherworld feet first.
Disgaea 5 features two main characters Killian and Seraphina. These two get intertwined unexpectedly in a quest that reaches father then they expect. An evil demon emperor and his “The Lost” soldiers have overtaken a ton of netherworlds. People are pissed and it’s time to take back the land that Void Dark has stolen from them dood! Disgaea 5 story is told via characters chatter and long, sometimes drawn out cutscenes. Featuring dark, zany, and even silly characters, this defiantly feels like a Disgaea game. Even if the story seems a bit more serious at times then prior entries, the humor and craziness the franchise has always offered is here in full glory. It’s definitely filled with anime tropes and this goes along with the visual style of these games, but it’s not to be unexpected from the franchise and the series just embraces itself.
Disgaea 5 is a strategy role playing game that works as prior entries. Players have a hub world that gives access to all the shops, extra dungeons, side quest content, DLC, characters to speak to, characters to recruit, and more. It basically serves the player as a one stop shop between the various missions available to progress the story or side content. It’s filled with visually bright colors, lots of npc characters, and an OST soundtrack that players might find themselves humming more the longer they spend their time there. The series has always given players this hub and it’s something were accustomed to as this point.
Once missions are selected, players are taken to the battle field where they form their plan of attack. Usually the playing field is limited in either height or design, with element to avoid or use to advantage during battle. Enemies are already present on the field map and after the intro cut scene to the level, it’s up to players to pull out their character and use the grid system to move, plan, and attack. Where the strategy comes into play is with the plethora of abilities and characters. From numerous weapon types, class types, and armor. There is a ton of content here to level up characters, their abilities, their weapons, and in ways Disgaea 5 has ton of content to keep players coming back even after finishing the 40 hour story. It can seem a tad overwhelming, especially for newcomers, but ultimately if players take the time to do the tutorials, everything is laid out in extremely easy to understand terms and while it might not guarantee players becoming a master at it, practice makes perfect. Eventually with the ability to combo moves with other characters, while throwing other monsters on the team over to another enemy, and wiping the floor clean with victory, it’s super satisfying. The most interesting feature is the new revenge status. Once players are damaged or see other characters kill or hurt, they get buffed up and can also perform special moves. This also works for enemies also and if killed during those moments, can reap better rewards. It’s just another dynamic that can play into this already robust strategy RPG.
The biggest leap forward bringing the franchise to PS4 is the sprite based work and animations. While the series has always had a knack for looking great, now it’s even better with bigger, more detailed sprites, and possible more characters on screen at one time. It’s a series that has aged extremely well on older consoles and moving forward aims to look as good as you can make 2D sprites and animation on consoles now. Voice work is also great and the characters come to life with their over the top performances and silly banter. Sometimes serious, sometimes mad, sometimes hilarious, these are characters you enjoy being around, seeing the story unfold, and moving onto the next battle. The OST sounds wonderful as well the extremely catchy hub world music track, and battle music that gets players pumped for that winning strike.
Disgaea 5 is a triumphant return to strategy role playing on the PS4. It’s big, beautiful, colorful, and filled with so much content, you could be playing for months. That’s not to say that the other games didn’t offer the same insane amount of depth, but it’s great to finally see the series make the jump forward to PS4. Not only is it the best strategy role playing game available for PS4 players, it’s one of the best strategy role playing games ever made. It can be played by new comers, franchise veterans, and offers an experience both can enjoy regardless of experience in the genre. Nippon Ichi Software is a master of their craft.
A pre-release PlayStation 4 code was provided by the publisher for review purposes