Title: Disgaea 4 Complete +
Available on: PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
Genre: Strategy Role-Playing Game
Version Tested: PlayStation 4
Official Site: http://disgaea.us/d4-complete/
Release Date: October 29, 2019
I first encountered the Disgaea series way back in 2003. When I was browsing the selves of the rental section of my local entertainment store, Hastings. I wasn’t connected to the 24-hour video game news cycle then like I am now. So I had never heard of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. The anime artwork on the cover caught my attention so I decided to take a look at it. Glancing at the back of the box I was greeted with a familiar sight. A grid-based battle system. Games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre and Vandal Hearts had been among my favorites from the PlayStation 1 era. So I was immediately excited by Disgaea. An anime-inspired take on my favorite type of RPG? Count me in!
I had no idea what was in store for me when I inserted that disk into my PlayStation 2. I ended up renting the game several times in a row. Easily spending as much as it would have cost to buy it. Those who have played any of the games in the franchise will relate to the sear addictiveness of things like the Item World. For anyone who enjoys grinding in RPGs until you are absurdly overpowered, Disgaea caters directly to you.
Since playing the first game, I went on to play through and complete Disgaea 2, 3, 5, D2, and many of the other Disgaea-like games released by Nippon Ichi Software. You’ll notice the absence of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten in that list. That’s because due to certain life events back in 2011, I simply didn’t have the time devote to it. I meant to eventually pick it up. But things happened and I ended up just skipping to D2 and then 5 when it was released.
So when I had the opportunity to review Disgaea 4 Complete +, I jumped at it. Finally a chance to see what I missed. Not only that, nut this new version of the game includes all the DLC that was released for the original Disgaea 4. And I get to see it on my 4k TV via my PS4 Pro. So if I had to wait at least Nippon Ichi Software is making it worth my time. With all of that said. I should probably get to the point. What did I think of the game? Is it a good place to start if you’ve never played a Disgaea? And is it worth re-visiting if you’ve previously played the original release? Let’s find out!
Our protagonist this time around is the vampire Valvatorez. A once-powerful tyrant who gave up his strength when he made a promise to never again drink human blood. Hence the title Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. In typical fashion for the series, this is made quite comical. With Valvatorez sustaining himself on sardines. And his servant Fenrich scheming to trick him into drinking blood so he can regain his powers. I’m not going into too many story details. The narrative is absurd but charming. I will say that I was delighted to see the return of the character Axel from Disgaea 2. He pops up a few minutes into the story. He is one of my personal favorites. So that was a nice surprise.
The really important thing in any game is the gameplay itself. And on this front Disgaea 4 Complete + does not disappoint. As mentioned above the game is an SRPG. Similar to other games like Final Fantasy Tactics. You move around on a grid. Everything is turn-based. But Disgaea adds a lot of layers to this formula. For starters, you can field a lot more characters at a time than other games in the genre. Which gives you a lot of fun possibilities to play around with. You can create characters from a ton of different classes. Or from any of the monster types you defeat in battle. Add in the numerous unique characters you gain as part of the story and you can customize your team any way you like.
Battle themselves are also very puzzle-like in Disgaea 4 Complete +. This is in large part due to the Geo System that all games in the franchise have used. In certain story battles, and randomly in the item world, you may come across various Geo Prisms. These prisms come in several different colors and can have a wide range of effects. When they are placed on certain colored gride panels they convey their effects to all panels of the same color. Things like Invincibility, Enemy Strength x3, and various increases in stats and other more interesting effects.
These effects can change how you approach a battle. Even more so when you realize that like most things on the map in Disgaea, they can be picked up and moved. This plays into the other main function of the Geosystem. If you break a prism on a panel of a different color, then all of those panels change to the color of the broken prism. This damages all units on these panels.
If you can change all the panels on a map to the same color, and then use the null prism to clear them entirely, you gain a huge bonus. The best way to do this is by arranging the prism in a way where breaking one set off a chain reaction that breaks all of the others in an order that leads to clearing all the colored panels. This sounds complicated, and it definitely can be. But it is super rewarding.
I mentioned before that this game is really about grinding. And no part of it is more grindy than the Item World. You unlock this feature somewhat early on. The way it works is that you can select an item, any item, and journey into it. Once inside you are presented with a series of procedurally generated maps. Every map you complete increases the stats of the item itself. In the various games in the series, I have probably spent over a thousand combined hours in the Item World. Disgaea 4 Complete + was no different.
So what is new in this release? Well as I said before it includes all the DLC from the previous game. So you get a ton of new characters and some other new stuff. Plus it’s all bumped up to 1080p with improved sprites. This leads to a really good looking game. Also, they added some quality-of-life improvements from Disgaea 5, like auto-saving. If you played through the previous release and enjoyed it, I would say you’d have a great time with Disgaea 4 Complete +. And if you have never played a Disgaea game at all I can say that this game would be a perfectly fine entry point.
Verdict: Disgaea 4 Complete + is a great game. Those who are fans of the series or the genre will feel right at home. The various additions to the original release are nice, but some brand new content would have been nice to see. Not the strongest story or characters in the series, but not the worst either. I recommend a purchase.
- Fun and charming anime-inspired story
- Great hand-drawn art-style
- Deep strategy gameplay
- Addictive grinding mechanics
- No content is 100% exclusive to this version
- Not the most memorable story in the series