RPGs, and tactical / strategy RPGs especially, are the genres that get me pumped. While I love just about every genre of video games out there, strategy RPGs and tactical RPGs are nearest and dearest to my heart, with the Disgaea series making its way to nearly the top of my list. Sure there are plenty of games in the SRPG genre (though not as many as I would like), but Disgaea has always separated itself from the herd in that you can customize more than any other game. The random, quirky dialogue leaves a smile on your face and may even evoke the occasionally chuckle, along with periodic WTF face for good measure. Don’t let the title fool you, Disgaea D2 is by no means the second game in the series, actually the 5th title on the console. In fact, if you have yet to play the others, I would highly recommend you do so. The Disgaea D2 name represents the sequel in that you get to play with fan favorites Laharl, Etna, and Flonne from the original game.
To be honest, unlike other RPGs, I don’t play Disgaea game for their story. Personally, I have always found them to be underwhelming and yet I still find myself sinking in 100+ hours into each title for the insane tactical gameplay and customization that comes with them. At its core, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness doesn’t really offer much that is new in the series and I want to emphasize that it isn’t a bad thing. Fans of the series will find the same principles and mechanics that they are familiar with such as reincarnating your characters (start over at level 1, but with increased states and abilities from their old class), the item world (which allows you to “dive” into randomly generated dungeons with multiple floors for each item to increase its stats), and lifting/throwing your teammates to create tower attacks or cover other areas of the map. Don’t forget about team attacks which have all new animations which are even more over-the-top than before.
One of the new features in Disgaea D2 is the Cheat Shop, which provides yet another way to customize how you want your game to play out. Given that you are playing as the Overlord of the demons in the Netherworld, cheating is just natural. The Cheat Shop allows you to manipulate various in-game mechanics such as how much experience you get, how much money you get, how quickly you master your weapons, etc. Rolling in dough but want to level up faster? Drop your HL (money) intake and boost your experience. As you progress through the game (and even more in post-game) the amount of which you can decrease/increase these options changes.
Another new concept involves riding mounts. In earlier Disgaea games humanoid and monster units could interact via Magichange (monster unit turns into a weapon the humanoid can use) or Fusion (monster units combine together to form a giant monster). Now, humanoid units can mount up on the monster and ride them like a wild cowboy. A mounted unit can completely turn the tides of battle. For example, an attack that would one-hit-kill your team will be redirected to your mounted unit, leaving the rider alive and intact. There are also new skills associated with the mounted units which can be used to unleash even more damage.
As much as I love Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness, I have definitely wanted to throw my controller against the wall a few times. I have encountered numerous game freezes during some of the battle animations. Let me assure you, there is nothing more frustrating than playing through the item world and getting to the Item General only to have the game freeze on you, forcing you to reboot your PS3. While you can disable the battle animations in the settings menu (and I have not had any freezes since I disabled them), the battle animations are one of the things that I have come to love most about the Disgaea franchise. I love watching the crazy, over-the-top, utterly insane special attacks. I can watch them over and over and over again, but for whatever reason the game has a tendency to freeze randomly during them.
While Disgaea isn’t nearly as well-known as say Final Fantasy Tactics, it has long been prized by fans for its anime-style graphics, oddball story and characters, hilariously random dialogue, and most importantly the obscene amount of customization available. Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness continues to live up to this fan’s expectations and is well worth the money, despite the periodic freezing. If you are looking for a game that you could easily sink a few hundred hours into, look no further.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 3 Digital version of Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness developed by Nippon Ichi Software and Published by NIS America.
- True to the Series
- Many New Customizations Available
- The Game Sometimes Freezes