Game Rant’s William Case reviews Disgaea 4: A Promise Forgotten
Level caps that reach 9999, corrupt governmental workers, and the iconic Prinny are all just the tip of the iceberg in Nippon Ichi Software’s and NIS America’s latest JRPG title.
Filled with a plethora of returning, as well as new, gadgets and widgets, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten packs a serious punch when it comes to strategic role-playing games. Enhancing the elements that long-time fans have come to know and love, while throwing in some new twists (and embellishing traits like Online), this installment may be the best one out the Underworld Gate.
What’s made the Disgaea series so fascinating for the numerous iterations is its combination of offbeat characters – with a fondness to stray off the beaten path. Simply put, Disgaea 4 takes the standard JRPG elements and promptly makes fun of them at nearly every turn. With witty banter over high-level caps, cheeky sidekicks, buxom females, and boisterous bosses, players will be cracking smiles from start to finish (even when they don’t want to).
The game’s hero, Valvatorez, leads most of the repartee as he embarks on a quest to save his precious Prinnies, while also returning to his seat of power as Underworld boss. Initially cast down to Prinny Instructor (think janitorial staff with penguins) after being the strongest demon in the Underworld. Valvatorez uncovers a pretty hefty plot within the government, and it’s up to Valvatorez and his crew to set things right.
While it’s obvious Valvatorez can’t do it all alone, Disgaea 4 will constantly give you reminders of that fact. A big part of the gameplay is building combos off of teammates: stacking one attack onto an enemy – only to have another come at them again… and again… and again. You can even have players team up and do a “Combo Strike” as long as they are paired up (more on that in a minute) and are standing next to each other when attacking an enemy. If cunning doesn’t do it, turning your monster-type friends into weapons may be enough to pull it off.
Yet with an emphasis on governmental corruption and team unity, NIS has given a major overhaul to the Senate, creating the Cam-Pain HQ. Here the player can customize new team members, create new bills for better equipment or experience in battle, upgrade items, and rearrange characters to allow for Combo Strikes. You can also tack-on buffs to characters, and give them jobs to carry out in the Senate. On the Multiplayer side, you can even send them off to a friend’s Senate, coming back with items that wouldn’t normally be available.
Speaking of Multiplayer, the online portion of Disgaea 4 is as robust as the storyline portion. Giving you the chance to create maps, Geo Blocks (little blocks that give stat boosts to the field) and character outcomes against friends, the chance to become a swashbuckling pirate is in the mix as well. Building a ship from the ground-up, a player sets their crew with their own individual AI settings, and away they pirate. Unfortunately all of it is automated, but it’s handled in a rather impressive — and exhaustive — range of commands. Do you want your pirates to fight anyone they see, or just the people that attack them? Would you rather they look for new ‘Islands,” or stick to pirating known lines? It’s all there, and for the taking.
While much of Disgaea 4 is new, much of it has stayed the same as well, which will keep its fans coming back for more. There are extended options in character customization and evilities, item world and (as mentioned already) Geo Blocks. Ironically, all of these options surprisingly make it ridiculously impossible to create the perfect squad for any person’s playing style – since you’ll always be trying something new and inventive: from level 1 to level 1000. Grinding – as in all RPG titles — does make an appearance but it’s not as exhausting or as daunting as it could be, since it’s something new every time.
Yet with all of the mechanics, the options, the abilities, and the schematics, it does lead to the problem that Disgaea 4 can potentially alienate newcomers into the series. Forgetting that the games are sequential (their storylines are convoluted at best), but the sheer learning curve and sink-or-swim- feel in the first few hours of gameplay may knock out some of the greener players. It’s a shame, since they would be missing out on one of the better JRPG’s to release this year, but that’s ultimately the price.
Disgaea 4: A Promise Forgotten is crazy, face-paced, full of excitement, and overflowing with “stuff.” There’s really not much that can’t be done within the game, which is both freeing and frightening at the same time. It’s easy to get lost in all of the sidebars, the stats, the sub-quests, and rigmarole involved – yet that’s what makes the game worth it. If you can put up with the witty banter and the often-times cheesy dialogue, Disgaea 4 is worth checking out.
Disgaea 4: A Promise Forgotten is out exclusively for the PS3
Follow Will on his Facebook and Twitter@ Ayreesfoxx.