War of the Netherworlds, dood!
There are two things that I’m usually certain of when a new Disgaea comes out. The first is that I’m inevitably going to spend a ridiculous amount of time grinding levels and unlocking new classes, skills, and features. The second is that I will likely give up trying to finish the game because of that first reason. The grind burns me out.
So it was that I predicted the same outcome for Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance. After all, it is also the first of the series releasing exclusively for the PS4; there’s just that much more opportunity to add in new features, expand on existing mechanics, and flesh out the already robust gameplay. Nippon Ichi Software did not disappoint.
This entry into the Disgaea series of tactical JRPGs has expanded its scope to highlight a hostile takeover of all Netherworlds by the most powerful Overlord, Void Dark. Caught in the path of this war machine are Overlord Seraphina and the mysterious Killia, a demon with a dark and hidden past. Killia, for all intents and purposes, becomes the story’s protagonist as the player joins him in his quest for vengeance against Void Dark. Killia’s motivation (along with that of the other Overlords that join along the way) becomes apparent as the story progresses.
The war of the Netherworlds creates a “big picture” sort of atmosphere that is immediately more engaging than previous entries to the series. The addition of research missions and side quests also give a better sense of creating change in the world of Disgaea 5 without much extra effort from the player.
Those features along with others like the Chara World, sub classes, and the improved Item World create a Disgaea that is more inclusive while still promoting the grind-til-you-drop mentality that is familiar to the series.
Stage layouts and the areas between battles are well designed, making solid use of the PS4′s graphical capabilities. Disgaea 5 is easily the prettiest among its siblings. Its soundtrack is mostly on par with the art design, but I found the background music of the hub world looped too often when you’re staying there longer than a minute or two.
Luckily there are plenty of admin NPCs that control a plethora of extra features to offer up a momentary break from that loop. Things like the shops of the Rosen Queen Co., recruiter and Dark Assembly will be familiar to franchise faithfuls while the Interrogation Room and Research Missions will delight new and returning players alike.
For the first time in a long time since being introduced to the series, I feel like I might actually complete a full playthrough of a Disgaea title. NIS has succeeded in creating a Disgaea sequel that not only feels worthy of the long-running franchise but is also instantly more accessible to those who may have felt left out by the seemingly endless grind normally associated with the series. With a bevy of new features mixed in with plenty of the old faithfuls, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance earns its PS4 exclusivity with class.
Review copy supplied
Tested on PS4