Review: Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness
This might be a disclaimer but to all that are reading this review just know that I have never played a Disgaea game. I have picked up Disgaea 3 on my Vita with PS+ but have yet to play it. So I apologize for anything that I bring up that is already in previous installments, but just know that this is a review coming from someone with no familiarity with the game or the series.
After doing some research as I was nervous in starting a game that has roughly 4 others in this franchise I wanted to familiarize myself with the history of Disgaea. Right off the bat I knew that I would be okay as Disgaea D2 takes place after the first installment in the franchise Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. The story revolves around Laharl, Etna, and Flonne as your main characters that you start with. Laharl is pronounced the new Overlord of the Netherworld. However, the other “vessals” in the Netherworld do not see him this way. The only way Laharl can show them that he is the TRUE Overlord is by showing them with brute force.
If you are familiar with the events of the first Disgaea then you should know these characters fairly well. If not here is a brief profile of each character.
Laharl is the son of the once powerful Overlord. After his father dies; Laharl tries to make a name for himself. In the end of the first Disgaea game he is then known as Overlord of the Netherworld. Only a few demons remember this when you start D2 so you must prove yourself worthy and make sure others show him the respect he deserves as the most powerful Overlord.
Etna was taken in by Laharl’s father at a young age whom she respected very much while growing up. She doesn’t show the same respect to Laharl, and throughout the game you hear them bicker as if they were truly brother and sister by blood.
Flonne was turned into a Fallen Angel after the events of Disgaea 1. Even though she now spends her days in the Netherworld she is the sweet, innocent, quiet type in this game.
Now I have played only a couple of RPGs in my gaming life. I have played your typical turn based RPG, and your action RPG in real time. Disgaea D2 introduced me not only to turn based RPG but tactics style with blocks to move around. This caused me to definitely think about my course of action instead of just “waiting my turn”. The gameplay is hard to grasp but once you get the hang of it; you pretty much understand what you are doing. There is a pretty good tutorial that goes over everything from moving your characters, to completing bonus attacks, and other things that I will discuss here.
The game starts out with your “home point” where you summon what character you want to bring into battle. Your enemies are already spread across the board in different areas so it is highly recommended you take a look at what you are up against before you select your sprite. Once you summon your character you are allowed to move, and the game will show you where the available spots are that character can move to. Some can move farther than others so keep that in mind as well. They offer the ability if you have a character next to each other to lift that character, and throw them further than they could on their own. The menu system is pretty basic when you are attacking. You have your “move”, “attack”, “special skill”, “defend”, “use item”, etc.
Positioning is key to when you start attacking your enemies. If you have characters that “sync” together you will start a combo attack with the person initiating the attack, and the person right next to them. This could help you immensely as you are pretty much getting to attack twice with only using one characters attack ability. You also want to make sure you have characters that are able to defend in case you need it. You do have your healers but they can only do so much, so if you have your “tank” with you make sure you position them in a way that they could take a few punches for your not so strong characters.
One new thing they added to D2 was the ability to mount your monsters you have in your party. You could take Larahl, and have him mount a Prinny that will then allow you to attack while riding the Prinny. This adds defense to your character, and also can potentially boost your attack depending on what weapon you have equipped.
Customization is also a big thing in Disgaea. You have a Character Creation section which will allow you to create your own character to add into your party. You can select from many different classes(Warrior, Red Mage, White Mage, Monk, Black Mage), and also customize the way they look such as their sex, attitude, color of their hair, and what weapon they carry. For people that do not like to nitpick every little thing in a game, and actually like the game to pick stuff for you this game might not be for you.
I have come to find out that grinding is HUGE when it comes to games like Disgaea D2. For example, I was working my way through the tutorial and having no problems with the enemies I was facing. When I got to my first “boss battle” I thought that this would be a piece of cake. The end result was my whole party getting wiped out when I only was able to take out one out of six enemies. So repetition is key in this game.
As you can see in the two above screenshots; graphics are not the selling point to this game. Granted, the colors are beautiful to look at and the cutscene painted stills of each character are great but there is not much “next gen” graphics in this game. It is a top down game most of the time where you are just navigating through different environments from dark castles, to bright colorful fields, to ships with a water background. The combo attacks are where it really shines to me as I have always been a fan of cutscene attacks. It will momentarily pause and go into a beautiful attack that you would think would obliterate your opponent. There are so many combinations of what you are able to pull off you never know what you will end up with which is always a nice surprise.
The soundtrack to the game is something personally I found annoying after a while. The tracks would repeat over and over again while you are grinding through different areas. If you are going to play this game I highly recommend a custom soundtrack when you are in a battle to get you through. During battle sequences there are little dialogue boxes that will come up as Laharl, and the gang will poke fun at each other but it is not voiced. The cutscenes in between each mission are dubbed in cutesy dialogue that is also dark humor that adults would get that kids would not necessarily. The voice acting is sub par but that is pretty much common with Japanese games getting dubbed in English. All the dialogue that is spoken can be read so you can definitely switch over to Japanese if you prefer that in your anime’s like me.
Playing Disgaea D2 has built a new appreciation for tactics style RPGs, and I cannot wait to start Disgaea 3 once I complete D2. You read correctly; I have not yet beaten D2 as this game I believe average would take the normal person 30-50 hours to complete as it is your standard JRPG. My only two gripes with the game are the sound, and the price tag. Personally, I would have been fine with a $29.99 price tag for this game but $49.99 is pretty steep. I know there is a huge Disgaea following, and if this is what you are looking for since Disgaea 4 released you will be right at home with hours and hours of pure entertainment.
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software, Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Release Date: 10/08/2013 *US and 09/27/2013 EU
Platforms: PS3 Digital: Yes
Price: $49.99US/EU Rating: ESRB:T PEGI:12