Disgaea 5 Complete Review

Game Title: Disgaea 5 Complete
Developer: NIS America
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Download: 6.2 GB
Availability: Retail (Europe, North America, Japan), Digital (EU, NA, JP)
Battery Life: 5-7 hours
Supported Modes: TV, Tabletop, Handheld

Disgaea has been a big franchise for Handheld RPG fans for a few generations now, though mostly on the Sony side of the table. Disgaea 1 and 2 got remakes on the PSP as well as 2 Prinny-based spin-off titles. Disgaea 3 and 4 got remade for the PlayStation Vita/PlayStation TV. Nintendo Disgaea games have really only been localized to Disgaea DS, an enhanced version of the PSP remake of the first game.

The Nintendo Switch has changed things. Back when Disgaea 5 was being made for PS4, NIS had stated that it was far too powerful of a game for the PS Vita to handle, especially since even Disgaea 4 had frame-drops on the Vita in the Item Worlds. But they’ve deemed the Switch worthy of such a game.

Remade from the PS4 version and now released for console and handheld fans alike, here is my review of Disgaea 5 Complete!

Story

Disgaea 5 revolves around female Overlord named Seraphina and a wandering warrior named Killia, whom the prior Overlord has abducted and decided is her future husband. As they begin to travel together, they begin to fight off an army called “The Lost”, whom fight for an Overlord invading and attempting to conquer all others. Collecting comrades along the way, the two form a Rebel Army and intend to hunt down and kill this Invading Overlord and his army.

This game follows Disgaea’s normal routine for storylines. The overall plot has a very serious idea to it, but you have to actually get there to get much aside from “We all have grudges against this Overlord for reasons none of us want to tell each other or the player about for the first 10-15 hours of the game”. There’s plenty of humor thrown in, but it feels like the plot is one of the weakest of the series until you get to that 10-15-hour point when the REAL plot kicks in.

Gameplay

Disgaea 5 Complete is a Tactical RPG / Strategy RPG and also an enhanced edition of Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance. As the series has had since the beginning, it involves turn-based movement and combat on grids. If you’re new to the series, imagine it like Final Fantasy Tactics or even The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, but with more complex maps.

Firstly, this edition of Disgaea 5 contains all DLC from the PS4 version and said DLC is accessible from the start of the game (unlike Disgaea 4 which made you play the entire Story before you could access it). All Story Scenarios, Characters, Item Packs, etc are readily-available, including Girl Laharl and the NISA character from the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise. Though, unlike past handheld remakes, Complete has nothing new that Alliance of Vengeance didn’t have on PS4. It’s basically Game + All DLC + Portability.

Next, Disgaea 5 added a few new gameplay features since even Disgaea 4’s PS Vita remake. You can now make Squads to access facilities while you’re off doing your own thing. There’s also the new Innocent Farm mechanic, letting you grow “Innocent” characters, and the Curry Shop that lets you cook food based on ingredients that gives your party temporary effects (similar to the cooking element from Toukiden 2).

One thing I would like to mention is the inclusion of Trophies. NIS America dubbed it worthy to incorporate all of the PS4 version’s PlayStation Trophies into the Switch version as an unlockable grid. Every time you would get a trophy in the PS4 version, you see the trophy pop up on the Switch exactly like it does on the PS4. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but a neat little feature that caters to fans of Achievements and Trophies.

The progress flow hasn’t changed much since the previous games. You have stages to clear in each chapter and clearing one unlocks the next. You keep this going (aside from specific scenarios that have different requirements for continuing the story) until the chapter ends and you go to the next chapter. And you keep doing this until the game ends. It’s a pretty simple progression style, though gets deeper as you need to keep buying equipment for your characters, enhancing skills, recruiting new character classes, interrogating prisoners, etc.

Combat is something series veterans will be familiar with, too. You spawn on a grid-based map. Each turn, you can move your characters according to their move capabilities and set them up around enemy units so you can attack them and defeat them. You can move around enemies, throw allies closer to enemies for better combat setups, attack blocks that give certain areas of the map enhancements, etc. It’s typical Disgaea combat.

The new system here is the Overdrive Gauge. Once you fight for some time, your character will activate their Overdrive, enabling them to use a powerful Ultimate Attack, be it fighting a group of enemies with a powerful combo or damaging and capturing enemies to take back to your base and interrogate as prisoners.

This gauge is there for balancing as the game’s difficulty spikes very quickly and very frequently. At the start of the game, things are easy as you gain access to Girl Laharl and NISA, whom are very much overpowered (having weapons with a damage of 120 rather than the shop’s inventory of 10-20), but that gap quickly thins and the game becomes a game of intense strategy. Although you don’t need to go out of your way to grind levels to beat each story level, it is very much a difficult level of strategy that’s involved until much later in the game.

Despite this, we are 5 games into the series and very little has changed in combat since the first couple games. The Overload System is definitely appreciated, but 90% of combat feels like the same thing we’ve already gone through with Disgaea 1-4 and D2. Not that it isn’t fun, but some more major enhancements are definitely past due for the series.

As far as length goes, I’d gauge an average play of Disgaea 5 at around 40-50 hours. I spent around 10 hours on the first 4 of the story’s 16 chapters, plus there’s a lot of DLC Scenarios and the Post-Game to extend that time further. It’s a very long game.

Controls

Controlling the game is surprisingly-simple. Unlike the PS Vita remakes of 3 and 4, Disgaea 5 Complete doesn’t use any touch controls. Everything is done with the buttons, so you don’t need to worry about touch controls.

You move around with the Left Analog Stick and/or the Directional Buttons. Although not by default, you can set camera rotation to the Right Analog Stick. Otherwise, it is handled by the L and R triggers. ZL and ZR, however, are used for jumping in the base/hub world.

The rest is the face buttons. A confirmed menu and combat options. B cancels combat and menu options. X pulls up the menu both in the hub and in combat. Finally, Y lets you see details and the movement grid for any selected character/enemy.

Presentation

Visually, the game looks exactly the same as it did on PS4. Renders are flawless outside of some small jaggies during the zoomed-in special attacks. If you display it on a TV, outside of certain button prompts, it doesn’t look any different from its PS4 counterpart.

Everything else is the same as the PS4 as well. The initial load time when you start the game up is a good 20 seconds, but once you’re in-game, it is lightning-fast. Stages you’ve already cleared take around 1-2 seconds to load and even new stages only take 3 or 4 seconds to begin their pre-stage story scenes. It’s really quite impressive.

No complaints about the frame-rate, either. Item Worlds play through very smoothly and I encountered no performance issues or crashing from start to finish.

Battery Life

This is something you’ll love. Given that Disgaea 5 is a 2D game, technically, I was expecting some crazy Battery Life, and I was right to expect that. Here is what I got, from 100% to 0%:

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 00 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 16 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 48 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 57 minutes

As expected, you’re getting a ton of Battery Life out of D5C. The only game I’ve recorded thus far that exceeds this game’s battery life is Kamiko, and by less than an hour more. 5-7 hours is huge amounts of Battery Life.

Summary

In conclusion, Disgaea 5 Complete is everything it was on the PS4 with the added portability to bring it off the TV and on the go. Although the story starts off slow, the game’s optimization, familiar gameplay, and pleasing visuals make this a 45-hour journey that any JRPG and SRPG fan will love to have on their Switch.

9/10

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