The tactical role-playing series, Disgaea first began in 2003 for the PlayStation 2 and exploded since then. There’s been at least an additional five installments, four spin-offs, few re-release ports, visual novels and an anime series for this franchise. Each main Disgaea installment has made significant improvements and Disgaea 5 Complete is the most polished one yet. The game first came out on PlayStation 4 in October 2015 and is now available on Nintendo Switch.
Meet Killia, a “wanderer” demon who is out for vengeance against the Demon Emperor, Void Dark and his army. Throughout his journey with fighting “The Lost”, Killia saves Seraphina, a run-away princess and Overlord of Gorgeous Underworld.
Seraphina’s admiration for Killia, leads her to fall in love with him, but is reluctant to admit so. From there, the two run into other Overlords across the Netherworlds who are also seeking to defeat Void Dark before he takes complete control of the Netherworlds.
While there are hundreds of characters in Disgaea, the relationship between the six main characters on your team are humorous and entertaining. Red Magnus, an Overlord of Scorching Flame has a love/hate relationship with Seraphina and the relationship between Seraphina and Killia is a one-way relationship. Killia, being very distant and quiet, is the most interesting character in the game as you play to find out who he is and why he is seeking revenge with Void Dark. Disgaea has been known for its humorous dialogue and still has it in Disgaea 5 Complete.
The storyline for the game, like previous Disgaea iterations, is roughly around 40hrs and the rest after that is really up to the player on how far they choose to continue after completing the story. Disgaea 5 Complete allows you to level up your characters to 9999 so expect to put in countless hours of fun, or go through the story once again but keeping the levels on your characters. Being that the game is a “Complete” version, you do receive all the original DLC content that was available for the PlayStation 4 but don’t expect any new DLC for the game was released in 2015, and hasn’t received any since then.
In comparison to the PS4 pricing for DLC, and the Nintendo Switch complete version, you’re getting a great deal for the amount of content the game has to offer. The PS4 season pass is $34.99, $29.99 for physical and $59.99 for the digital version of the game. In total if you were to purchase the physical version of the game + DLC for PS4, it’d cost you $64.98 and $94.88 digitally.
Based on previous Disgaea games, Disgaea 5 has implemented not only improvements that the series has been building on within the story but also major updates to its user interface. Originally the interface was pretty stale and flat but now they’ve added more dimensions to it. For example, the character menus in battle now have animated gauges and more detailed menu borders. For role-playing games, this is important as you are going to stare at these menus and interfaces throughout the game.
Let’s Super Battle!
Speaking of animated gauges, this is one of the newest additions in Disgaea 5, “Revenge Mode”. When an ally is hurt or defeated, the gauge will fill up. Once filled, your character will have a boost in attack power. Special attacks that acquire SP will only cost 1 point and take 25% less damage, however the mode only lasts three turns so use them wisely!
Some characters however can also use special moves called “Overlord”, while in “Revenge Mode”, each character has their own unique move that can benefit you in battle. The special attack in Disgaea 5 remind me of games like Final Fantasy’s “Limit Breaks” but the additional boost in stats is a great touch.
Disgaea 5 also includes new features such as quests, a sub weapon system where you can now carry two weapons at once, capture enemies to join your army and interrogate them. These are just a few of the new additions to the game.
Disgaea 5 has a large amount of strategy to it, newcomers may find this overwhelming when it comes to figuring out tactics on the battle field. Not only do you need to worry elemental strengths and weaknesses but there’s throwing characters across boards, utilizing the geo symbols for your benefit and much more. The game does go through tutorials in the story mode but also takes a few turns in battle to get the hang of it. I even found myself replaying the tutorial, to learn the basics, for it’s been a few year since I’ve played a Disgaea game. Once you master the controls, you can utilize the gameplay to your benefit but you still have some work to do if you want to reach level 9999.
What’s so iconic about Disgaea battles is the over-the-top attacks. While some character attacks can be too much over-the-type, some are pretty hilarious. Character combos are another comical attack that Disgaea is known for. Some attacks can last over a couple minutes. While it’s fun to watch the first couple of times, it becomes very repetitive. There’s a couple ways to get around the battle animation. Hitting the “x” button each time you attack or turn off the battle animation in the game settings. If you are level grinding, I recommend turning off the animation.
Vote or Die
Even outside of battles, there’s a lot to learn. One of the traditional Disgaea features is the voting system. There’s a room where you propose bills to get passed. If you want better items in the weapon and armor shop, you have to get people in the room to pass your bill. You can bribe them with items, otherwise you give up or fight them if you lose the vote. If you chose to fight, you better be prepared and not be at a level lower than 100.
Bow Before Overlord of Gorgeous
Character customization has been one of my favorite things within the Disgaea series. However, Disgaea 5 has made it even better. Initially when you create a new character (or resurrect an existing character with better stats) your character always started at level 1. Now, you have the option to pay HL, (abbreviation for hell, a currency in Disgaea) to level up your character based on one of your existing max character’s level. While you strengthen up your custom character, you will unlock a “better” version of the class, mostly higher stats or different spells.
While you can spend your time on just exploring the storyline, there’s more content to look forward to. Included in the game are extra chapters where you can recruit characters from previous Disgaea games or other game characters that were developed by the same company, Nippon Ichi Software.
Previously you needed to beat the game first and you would have somewhat of a fighting chance to defeat special characters. While playing the chapters that included Laharl and the other characters from Disgaea, you are now able to battle them based on your current character’s highest level. As weird as it sounds, there is a world where it’s based on dungeon levels inside one of your items. This is called the Item World, where you can enhance your item stats. Be aware this can be challenging but definitely a great way to level them up.
On the Go
We all know one of the biggest benefits to owning the Switch is the ability to play it on-the-go. Playing Disgaea 5 is definitely a game to carry around, especially for role-playing gamers. The performance on Disgaea 5 was consistent with its animations and didn’t experience any frame rate drops in handheld mode. The game did great playing undocked for around the first 1 ½ hrs but started to drain rather quickly afterwards. At about 3hrs and 40mins into the game, I received a low-battery notification at 15%, with auto brightness on.
Less than I anticipated but based on other Switch games, 4hrs seems to be the norm for playing undocked.
Overall the game is colorful, smooth and fun. It’s great to have a chance to play a Disgaea game that only requires one device and a single purchase, making it feel great and exciting! Disgaea 5 Complete is available for download on e-Shop for $59.99 and is also available for purchase at local retailers near you!