DEVELOPER: Nippon Ichi Software
PUBLISHER: NIS America
GENRE: SRPG (Strategy RPG)
RATING: T (Teen)
RELEASE DATE: October 6, 2015
As a long time fan of the series, I was excited when Disgaea 5 was announced and that it was coming to North America on PS4! Could the developers bring something fresh to the table of a franchise that has been running for 12 years. This series has introduced us to both the Netherworld and Celestia, numerous memorable characters, and of course Prinnies, dood!
The story revolves around Void Dark and his army of Lost that he commands. He moves from one Netherworld to the next, spreading his influence like the plague and each Overlord that stands in his way are easily defeated by his army. During a battle with Seraphina, the Princess Overlord of the Gorgeous, a lone young demon by the name of Killia steps onto the battlefield to umm… (How should I say this?) … sit down with a bowl of ramen. After finishing his meal, Killia quickly enters the fray and disposes of the assailants, much to the delight of the Princess Overlord. It’s at this point an uncertain alliance begins with the sole intent of bringing down Void Dark and his army of Lost.
So let’s get down to our cast of characters this time around. You play as the main protagonist, Killia, who is the silent, loner archetype out for revenge. The first overlord you meet is Seraphina, a sheltered princess and daughter of the Overlord of Gorgeous. She has run away from home to avoid a political marriage arranged by her parents. She believes that all men exist to serve her and uses seduction methods for this purpose. Our next party member Red Magnus is the Overlord of Scorching Flame, he believes in power and strength, a bit of an idiot, but his goal is to become the strongest overlord in the Netherworld. My favorite character in the party, Usalia, is the Overlord of Toto Bunny she has a weird condition where she has to eat curry or she ends up going berserk. She also rides a giant yellow Prinny that fights alongside her. Christo is the Overlord of an Overwhelming Giant Netherworld, he is a great strategist who harbors a secret, and plans to use Killia’s power to beat Void Dark. Lastly, we meet Zeroken, a short cocky Overlord, who can change his attitude based on who he is interacting with. This cast isn’t as memorable as ones in the past, but you still connect with them and want to see them each meet their goal of defeating Void Dark.
The game doesn’t hesitate to whisk you away to the Main Hub where you launch your missions, equip your party, chat with NPCs, use the character creator, use the Squad Shop, visit the item and character worlds, make curry in the new Curry Shop, pass bills, build your own Netherworld, and just chill. Of course not everything is available when you start, but these things will unlock as you progress in the main story. I wasn’t able to experience the Nether Research Squad feature as it seems none of the other reviewers used or turned on this feature.
So how does Disgaea 5 compare to the previous entries in the franchise? Well honestly I enjoyed this game as much as all the previous ones. A lot of the past games features are still in the game, but they have also added new ones that bring something new to the franchise. One of the best improvements is the enhancement of the Item World. The Item World was always one of the best places to go to level up your character and get some nifty items to boot. Now it’s even better as they have added random events, and unique items that will make it even more worthwhile to explore this world.
One of the new features is called Squads. As you progress through the campaign, you’ll meet certain requirements and will then divide your characters into specialized groups. Doing so doesn’t mean you have to rely on a particular squad in battle, but each team member gains different perks. For example, members in one squad will gain experience points without battling, as long as the leader is out in the field, doing damage. Another squad can learn the ability to capture weakened enemies, in which another squad can then interrogate them back at the hub. All in all, making it possible to recruit a former enemy to serve as your ally.
Strategy planning plays an even more important role in this game as you have to take into account that every level is different from the one before. You have to remember to meet your challenges, use geo panels when you can, watch enemy “evilities”, and use your Revenge meter.
Now I am one gamer who looks for a good if not great story in the games I play. In the past Disgaea has never let me down, but unfortunately Disgaea 5 suffers from a slow story. uninteresting backstories, and just not enough humor that the past entries have had. The story does tend to pick-up more towards the end, but not enough to make me say “Wow, what a great story!”
The graphics are much more vibrant on the PS4, and of course the new and familiar Disgaea music is there to make the game a fun filled playthrough. Unfortunately, you may want to play the game with Japanese voices and subtitles as the English dub actors are just so plain and monotone. Killia’s English voice actor made me want to scream! Yes the character is somewhat brooding and dark, but he sounded more like a manic depressant. Seraphina’s annoying “hohohoho!” laugh can be unbearable after a few hours of gameplay too. Luckily you can switch the voices at any time during your game.
I really enjoyed the freedom of the character customization this time around also! As a gamer who loves customization, the things we were allowed to do this time was so refreshing. The new classes you can create are great with Dark Knight being my favorite, but you can also make maids and fairies.
The game is game is one that both seasoned franchise players and newcomers will enjoy. As the strategy that you use to beat the game is all up to you, the player. You can easily clock in over 100 hours in this game and still have plenty of stuff to do after you beat the main campaign. Unlocking new squads, characters, classes, maps, and episodes is what makes you want to continue playing the game even longer.
Disgaea is easily one of the best SRPG franchises out there and Disgaea 5 does not disappoint! Even with the slow story, and awful English voice acting, the game is a great entry to the PS4 game line-up. Hopefully this will lead other developers to bring more strategy games to the console, but if they don’t as long as NIS keeps bringing us new Disgaea games, I will be one satisfied gamer!
Overall I think that Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance deserves an 8/10! The game isn’t perfect, but it will keep you entertained for hours with its new features, lengthy campaign, extensive Item World, and entertaining moments!