Ah Disgaea, we meet again! Since having reviewed the fourth installment and buying every other game in the series bar the first, I’ve become more acquainted with Disgaea and I’m in a better position to review it’s first PS4 outing.
If you’re unfamiliar with the series and want a good starting point, then Disgaea 5 is perfect as it’s a standalone adventure with new characters, meaning you don’t need to have played any of the other installments to enjoy and understand this one. It’s also packed with helpful tutorials – which you can skip if you’re a Disgaea veteran – and plenty of data to scan through in case you wish to know more about the lore, worlds and characters. NIS America and Nippon Ichi Software have put in a lot of effort to make Disgaea 5 easily accessible and although it’s complex and rather difficult, you’ll find yourself becoming a pro if you’re willing to put the time in.
Disgaea 5 follows Killia who’s determined to defeat Void Dark for reasons unknown, although constant flashbacks imply that Void Dark murdered someone very close to Killia. A few powerful overlords including the gorgeous Seraphina and the buff Red Magnus help Killia on his journey as they too wish to destroy Void Dark who’s quickly taking over the Netherworld, and he’ll eventually be strong enough to overthrow both Seraphina and Red Magnus’ realms if he continues on with his plans. Killia forms this unlikely alliance in the hopes that he’ll be able to defeat Void Dark, but is that all there is to his intentions?
Disgaea 5 is an SRPG and so it’s not really my forte as I’m not a fan of how long individual missions can last and how much time you have to invest in levelling up and equipment each unit, etc, as it does become time-consuming, but I enjoyed Disgaea 5 none the less even though I despised having to move 10 units per turn – it really adds up! I love developing my characters but you’ll find yourself focusing on dozens of characters as you play which, of course, comes with its need to grind experience and skills. Fortunately, all the gameplay mechanics are extremely solid and it’s clear that Disgaea 5 will do a lot to appeal to both new and old fans alike.
Each battle will see you send out 10 allies on a square grid and you’ll pick where each one goes and what they’ll do – with so many different classes ranging from mage to archer and monk, you’ll want a well-balanced team that can tackle any situation. You’ll spend much of the game fighting and some of the battles are truly challenging, and it’s gutting when you fail a mission and are forced to restart but oh so satisfying when you then taste victory. It’s not all bloodshed though, you can partake in plenty of optional and generally humourous conversations and spend time improving your team and equipment or even holding strategy meetings to get new plans underway which can vary from new asthetics, making the game easier (or harder!) and loads of other cool content.
You already know what I’m going to say about the visuals and yes, it seems that any game NIS America publish has outstanding 2D visuals and artwork which you can’t help but love. Disgaea tends to lean towards a Halloween-themed type of art which I greatly enjoy and as expected, I was pleased to see it return here. Character and enemy design excels and there’s nothing that’ll visually bore you and it’s nice to see that the 2D sprites in battles have been touched up, making them look nicer than ever. They won’t be to everyone’s liking as it’s arguable that they’re still dated, and I personally would’ve loved to have seen 3D models similar to the jump from Guided Fate Paradox to Awakened Fate Ultimatum. Regardless, the art style is brimming with creativity and with Halloween now quickly approaching, Disgaea 5 makes for a perfect game to get in the mood for the creepy holiday.
I’m actually somewhat torn on the English Dub for this one. I think everyone sounds great but Red Magnus genuinely gets on my nerves and it doesn’t help that he already feels somewhat out of place to me as his distinctive art feels much more Western than Japanese, and it’s at odds with the rest of the cast – I’m not entirely sure what they were aiming for here but I feel like they tried to hard to make Red Magnus a giant idiot when he could’ve been a feared but still pretty clueless and capable warrior. Whilst I find the rest of the dub much more enjoyable, I have to say that it’s the OST that I’ve really enjoyed, especially the theme that plays in Seraphina’s pocket of the netherworld. Disgaea music and dubs have always been great and I’m pleased to see that the tradition is held up with the fifth game.
Disgaea 5 will keep you busy for dozens of hours, even if a few of those hours can be a bit tedious with how much time you have to invest into moving everyone on the field per turn, but it proves to be enjoyable none the less. NIS America have done a great job localising this game and, if you’re already a big fan of the series, then Disgaea 5 is sure not to disappoint with its emphasis on taking serious matters and making them a much more light-hearted affair, something which has always been a talking point about the series. However, it works as a perfect starting point for those who aren’t familiar with the series and so if you’re looking for a Japanese SRPG to whittle plenty of hours away with, then Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is the game for you.