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Disgaea 4 Review
Posted on October 18, 2011 by Joel

The Disgaea series by NiS has made a reputation for itself over the years as being the most chaotic, off the wall turn-based strategy RPG in town. From its humble beginnings as a cult hit on the Playstation 2 it has emphasized insanity over strict, buttoned down rules.  It is certainly not a game for everyone, but its fans speak loud and proud about it. The biggest complaint about Disgaea 3 was its lack of updated sprites, leaving it a very muddy-looking game on the Playstation 3, but NiS promised to change all that and more with Disgaea 4.



A Truly Endless Experience - Disgaea 4 and the games before it could rightfully be labeled as the first true sandbox strategy RPG because that is exactly what they are. There are endless things to do here, and with characters who can get their levels raised to the multiple thousands (after resurrecting them back to level one, that is) as well as randomly generated dungeons found in the item world, this is a game that could easily contain hundreds if not thousands of hours of game play for anyone willing to explore all of its possibilities. The story mode is lengthy enough to feel satisfying, and though it takes awhile to really get off the ground, fans of anime especially will get a kick out of its off the wall quirkiness. The name of the game here is content; and Disgaea 4 has that in spades.

Some Rules Can Be Bent, Others Can Be Broken - It doesn't matter how long a game is if it isn't any fun, but with its unique “rules are meant to be broken” game mechanics, Disgaea 4 is a unique gaming experience that simply can't be found anywhere else. Players are actively encouraged to use cheap tactics, to find clever ways to outsmart rather than out-buff the enemy, and executing a well planned out strategy (usually one with amusing results) is more satisfying because of this.

Silky, Smooth and Sleek - Although presentation is not a significant factor in enjoying this gargantuan game, it is worth noting that all of the complaints of Disgaea 3 are now effectively moot; the high resolution sprites here are gorgeous, and for those who do prefer ugly things, there is actually an option to turn them off altogether! It's a franchise that shows the fans some love, and though the rest of the games presentation is very standard Disgaea fare, it will not disappoint those who have been following the series.

Some Interesting Extras - If the insane amount of content on the single player end of things wasn't enough, players now also have the ability to build their own pirate ship and can invade other player’s item worlds online. These pirates are unfortunately not controlled by the invading player, but I can't imagine a true multiplayer mode working in a game as chaotic as this one. Even still, it was an interesting choice that NiS even bothered to add this kind of online interaction at all, and it is just some very light cream on top of an already delicious dessert, and a gesture that shows they are still racking their brains to come up with new things to add to this already saturated series.

The Class Clown of Video Games - Disgaea is a game that is chock full of charming character, humor, and tongue-in-cheek satire. The story this time around starts off far more interesting than in previous incarnations of the series, with the twisted initial spark revolving around a great Prinny genocide before it veers off into other directions. The protagonist Valvatorez has a bit of General Ripper influence from Dr. Strangelove with his sardine fascination, and as far as cliched anime storylines go, it does a pretty good job of avoiding any stale, cringe worthy subplots for the most part. The game never takes itself too seriously, and has just a touch of melodrama, but never so much that I felt like the joke was lost. A game this unique deserves a unique style and narrative, and that is certainly present here. 



Steep Mountain Is Steep - There are negative points to every game, but Disgaea's are rather hard to quantify. One thing to point out is that for the layman, Disgaea 4 will likely by a hard pill to swallow. This is not an everyman game, and one that is most definitely suited for those who are at least somewhat familiar with this sub-genre of RPG. That is not to say that the game is overly complex, as the basics can be picked up rather easily, but the learning curve can start to get pretty steep when you begin to dive in to everything the game has to offer. The further you get, the more there will be to manage, and depending on just how far you are willing to go, this is one rabbit hole that has no apparent end; a daunting prospect for any casual gamer.





Disgaea 4 is an excellent game, one that is my favorite of the entire year, and one that simply should not be missed by anyone who has an interest in strategy RPG's. I will not say that it is perfect, but it is exactly what I expected from this series and more, and it is absolutely an island unto itself, one worthy of the highest accolades I can offer it. It is a unique experience, and one where the only real problem is that there may be far too much to digest. If anything, it will prove to be a massive time sink to any fan who approaches it, but if time is on your side, you will get along with Disgaea 4 just fine.


Joel - Staff Writer | all author's articles

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