Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited Review

2014-07-30-100839

Title: Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited
Developer: NIS America
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 2.9 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: Yes

Tactical RPG’s are a rare breed of games, and always have been.  In the realm of Role-Playing Games, you see a lot of Action RPG’s, like The Elder Scrolls, Kingdom Hearts, and Star Ocean.  Even more plentiful are turn-based RPG’s, often called “Console RPG’s” like Final Fantasy and Persona.  These two sub-genres make up the majority of the RPG library, no matter which system you’re playing on.  Rarely is it that you find a Tactical RPG, or a Strategy RPG.

Although they are somewhat rare, there are a fair amount of Strategy RPG’s out there to be played.  If you look at the PS Vita, in particular, you will find a few games, from the backwards-compatible Final Fantasy Tactics to the Indie Game, Rainbow Moon.  Still, though, there aren’t that many games out there of this breed.  For reason as well, as SRPGs normally require a lot of patience and power-leveling to manage their high difficulty spikes.

One SRPG franchise that has done particularly well is Disgaea.  This series started on the PlayStation 2 and has seen four main franchise games as well as multiple spin-off games.  On top of that, its success is noted in the fact that all four of the “numbered” titles of the series has been remade for handheld platforms.  For an entire series to not only be put on another system, but remade on another system is no small feat.  Here is our review of the series’ latest entry, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited!

Story

2014-08-02-110745

The story of the Disgaea franchise has always been unique in the fact that, despite all of the titles happening in the same timeline, you don’t need to play previous entries to understand any of the others.  The same holds true for Disgaea 4.  While you will see some familiar faces, like Axle from Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days, you will not need prior knowledge to enjoy the story.

Disgaea 4 follows the journey of Valvatorez, whom was one a powerful and tyrannical Vampire Lord.  After a fateful day and his noble philosophy of keeping his promises, he was stripped of his former power and exiled to the Prison World, Hades, tasked with become a Prinny Instructor, helping Prinnies go out to the other worlds to be of service to their new masters.

Not long after he is training a new set of Prinnies from the Human World, Valvatorez becomes aware that the President of the Netherworld is planning on exterminating the entire Prinny population.  Hanging onto a promise he once gave to the Prinnies, Valvatorez begins a rebellion and journey to take down the President of the Netherworld to stop his plans of genocide.

The story of Disgaea 4 is unique because of two things.  The first is that, while the comedy is there, you will see Valvatorez going through a huge change in personality as the game progresses to dig back into that tyrannical Vampire Lord he used to be.  The other is the Prinnies.  Disgaea 4 explains to us what, exactly, Prinnies are, and where they come from.

Gameplay

2014-07-31-093705

Just as every entry in the series before this one, Disgaea 4 is a Strategy RPG.  You will be spending the majority of your time on grid-based battlefields, taking down enemies and collecting treasure chests and coming back to your Home Base to re-stock and do other things.  This has been the staple gameplay of
the Disgaea series since the original game, and continues in Disgaea 4.

Your Base will have a lot of things for you to do, though, other than going out and fighting battles.  While the selection will be limited at first, you will unlock many Facilities you can use throughout the game.  You have your Teleporter to be able to go into Story Missions as well as the Item World, which lets you go within a world that is built into any item in your inventory, fighting through limitless battles and strengthening both your characters and the item in question.

There is also a Nurse that will heal your wounds and a Skill/Evility Shop.  The Skill Shop is the key to gaining new skills and becoming more powerful.  Each character earns points in battle when they defeat enemies.  You can use these points to buy new skills or Evilities (Support Skills) for them.  You can also use this shop to boost the power and level of your skills, letting them be strong or attack more area at once.

There are also shops that you can take part in.  The Weapon and Armor shops will be used to buy Weapons and Armor, and their inventory will constantly upgrade itself the more you buy from them.  There is also an Item shop that does the same thing as well as a Cheat Shop, which is brand new to this version of the game, allowing you to use Story Progression points to increase the amount of experience and money you get from battle, or increase the strength of the enemies you are fighting.

2014-08-03-174716

One final aspect of the Home Base is the Cam-Pain HQ.  This is a feature that allows you to place units and bases around the Netherworld to get various battle enhancements as well as calling the Senate to pass Laws.  The Laws are important as it can be used to create new characters as new classes become available, but also to add various things to the game.  When you call the senate, you want to bribe them and get laws passed, be it added the Cheat Shop to the Home Base, increasing inventory in the shops, or adding Disgaea 3 characters to your party from having a Disgaea 3 save file on your Memory Card.

With all you can do at the base, you will be spending most of your time on the battlefield.  When each battle starts, you will be on a large grid, where you can dispense and move each of your units out into the battlefield to fight off the enemy party.  Each character can only move a certain amount of spaces each turn and they can only Attack, Throw, Use Items, etc once a turn.  Everything you do will have a certain range, and you will need to study your movements carefully to mount the best attack and defense possible.

While you’re on the field, you will also need to watch out for Geo Blocks.  These blocks give effects to certain areas from increasing the amount of Experience you can get there to making whoever is standing on those areas Invincible, be it you or your enemy.  It’s important to study the blocks before making your move, so you know whether to charge in or stay behind.  Destroying these areas is also key to building up your Bonus Meter to increase the rewards you get at the end of the battle.

Performing these battles will advance the story, and preparations are needed for nearly every one.  If you’ve ever played a Disgaea game before, you should know about the difficulty spikes.  This game is full of huge difficulty gaps.  While the first few stages are pretty easy, it’s pretty clear later on that you will be constantly training your characters and upgrading equipment to get through each battle of the game.  By the end of Chapter 2, I had already stopped to train and “grind” for a good couple hours of the game.  It’s a fun game, but it’s quite challenging.

The uniqueness of this version of the game comes with what was added.  First of all, every bit of the PS3 version’s Downloadable Content is built into the game, accessible after you finish the game.  Along with that, NIS has added a new Story Chapter, four new playable characters, new skills for each class, new magic called Peta Magic, and the Cheat Shop.

Even without taking the new content into account, Disgaea 4’s story should take you about 35-40 hours to beat, and that only gets longer with the new content.  I would say that if you just want to experience the story, expect to put at least 40 hours into the game.  Unlike Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days, there won’t be any lucky breaks for you, with imported characters being at high levels.  Those of you that may have breezed through that game will not have as much luck with this game.

Controls

Controls for Disgaea 4 are relatively simple, particularly compared to the last game of the series.  Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention had button controls as well as some pretty heavy touch controls built into it.  Disgaea 4 does have some touch controls, but not nearly as many and they are not active by default.

Controlling your character or moving the cursor around the battlefield are done with either the D-Pad or the Left Analog Stick and you can use the Right Analog Stick to switch targets or cycle through various menus of information when looking at an enemy or characters.  The camera controls are set to L and R, allowing you to use that to turn the angle around of the battle arena or just some area you’re exploring in your base.

The X Button is used to select options in a menu or targets for movement or an attack.  The Circle Button is used for cancelling out of something.  The Square Button can also change information or see the movement range of characters or enemies on the map.  The Triangle Button opens the menu, be it in battle or at the base.

All in all, the controls aren’t that complex to learn.  While some may not be used to L and R moving the camera as opposed to the Right Analog Stick, it’s something that you can adjust to fairly quickly.

Presentation

2014-08-03-180045

The presentation is normally a make-or-break section for reviews.  A game could have fun gameplay, but play badly and would turn people away from buying it.  Disgaea 4 is not perfect, but it’s not bad, either.  First of all, the visual presentation was nicely done by the developers.  When you look at how the game flows and each character model, it’s hard to find a few, if any jagged edges on the character models.  Everything looks smooth and a good amount more crisp than the models used in Disgaea 3.

How the game runs is mostly good, not all good.  There were very few times where the game actually slowed down and started to lag.  But they did happen.  This is particularly present in the Item Worlds.  When you get to a floor that’s a multiple of 10, the battlefields are larger and have more enemies.  The frame-rate drops like a rock in these sections, showing very slow gameplay for awhile.  This isn’t game-breaking, but it can be very frustrating, though this problem is also present in the PS3 games.

Overall

Disgaea 4 has finally come to the PlayStation Vita, allowing gamers to play through Disgaea 1-4 on their Vita at any time they wish.  While there are some areas where the frames drop quite a bit and the game is constantly getting hard to the point where you have to stop and power-level, the story is comical and interesting, and the game looks and plays great, for the most part.  This is a recommended purchase for any fan of SRPGs.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited an 8/10

Related Posts