Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance originally launched for PS4 way back in 2015 but the extra features make the Switch version of this game the definitive edition. It’s the one people who never played it before should play, and could even tempt back lapsed PS4 players for another whirl.
The game is set in the fictional Netherworld. Each planet in the Netherworld has a theme, from Icic-Hell to Poisondise and most planets have a demon Overlord, an all-powerful demon who reigns over that world. Your job is to start to pull together a rebel army to fight Void Dark, a demon Overlord who is invading other Overlords’ territory.
The combat is pretty interesting, you have all the basic gameplay elements you would expect in a strategic RPG; ranged units with bows and guns, healing mages, damage dealing mages and monk type fisticuff characters. Where the gameplay does shine is in a few ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ ways. For example, your units are broken down between monsters and demons. Demons are essentially no different from a standard unit in any other game but the monsters are a bit more interesting – if you have these units adjacent to one another, a monster can become the demon’s weapon. It’s an easy feature to miss but it’s a great way to shake things up a bit – and it’s just one example of how combat is made more interesting.
There are so many features in Disgaea 5 Complete that you can spend hours upon hours upon hours in the Netherworlds. The ‘hub’ world where you spend your time between missions is bursting with content, with shops ranging from your standard equipment stall to ‘interrogation’ and ‘strategy assembly’. It’s dizzying at first but fun once you get to grips how these features fit in with the rest of the game. Even more fun though, is the ‘special content’ shop which is unique to the Complete addition of the game. It allows you to take on extra missions, new characters and receive free money (or HL as it’s called in the Netherworlds) for free.
The best part of the story, which overall is a little uninspired to be completely honest, is the characters. The Princess Overlord of the Gorgeous Netherworld, Seraphina, is my personal favourite – who doesn’t love a character who has a short fuse and guns? Not only this, but at all times Seraphina thinks she ‘owns’ the male characters in the team which makes for some great conversation. The way the cast of characters interact is great to watch and really drives the game forward. The voice acting is superb too.
Disgaea 5 Complete is good to look at but there’s nothing revolutionary in the art style. That said, it’s better than most games of this genre and the different Netherworlds you visit on your journey keep things feeling fresh. The music is also mostly good. The only qualm I have is the song that plays in the hub world becomes incredibly repetitive after a while. It’s catchy too which meant I ended up humming along to it even when I had finished playing and this drove me manic.
One thing we do need to talk about is the tutorial. It’s the two things a tutorial should never be; long and unhelpful. The first 3-4 hours of the game feel like one long tutorial that you can’t skip because you’re still getting main plot in with it. Not only this, but the game continues to teach you new elements once you’re out of the tutorial. It all feels very ‘when is this going to stop’. The worst part though, is that I was still discovering new features and ways to play in the combat ten hours in that I genuinely can’t remember being taught. Why bother with the tutorial at all if it’s going to be so long and still miss things out? It just seemed very bizarre to me.
That said, the tutorial was the only part that really bothered me and it still wasn’t enough to ruin a great game.