|Title: Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness|
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Console: PS3 PSN
Release: October 8th, 2013
Genre: Strategy RPG
Disgaea D2 is a direct sequel to the original Disgaea that released ten years ago. There have been a lot of gameplay changes over the years, so I was very curious to see how these changes would fit into this title. I do have to admit that I love the cast from the first game, and was really excited to see them come back to series and continue their adventures.
The story begins seven years after the first game. Laharl has become the Overlord, but the demons have yet to accept him as such. This is mostly due to the fact that he lacks people, or rather demon, skills and, instead, wants to rule the land by brute force. He sets out with his vassals Etna and Flonne on a quest to beat the demons that will not accept him into submission.
The graphics look pretty good. Some would probably call them dated, but they are bright and colorful and well-animated. I love the character designs, since the art style is something I have always loved about this series. The battle maps look great, as well, and each different type of terrain is well represented from the green forest to snowy peaks. I think the graphics fit this game perfectly. There is no framing or lag when the crazy special moves are being performed. I never noticed any kind of screen tearing or graphical problems.
The sound and music are top notch, as always. The catchy battle themes will get stuck in your head for days. I catch myself humming them them all the time, even now. The sound effects, while nothing special, do add to the overall experience. The grunts, groans and catchy one-liners of the characters as they move and attack are a nice addition. The English dub work is fantastic, and NISA went the extra mile with it this time. I really enjoyed the banter back and forth between the characters, and the voice work really made this shine. There is a Japanese audio option in there for those that prefer that, as well.
The basic gameplay hasn’t changed a whole lot from Disgaea 2, which I previously reviewed. You still move your characters on a grid-based map. Then, you will select the actions that you wish to take in this turn-based strategy style. All of the favorite features have returned, as well, such as The Dark Assembly, Item World, and Netherworld Hospital. There are many in-game tutorials to help you out if you need it.
Like the previous games before it, Disgaea D2 has a ton of character classes and monsters from which to choose. Not all of the classes and monsters will be available to you at the start of the game, though; these will unlock as you meet certain requirements. The requirements could be to get a certain class to a certain level or defeat X monster or so forth. Each class and each monster will have its own set of skills to use. You can customize the human characters with whichever weapon proficiency you would like them to have. This will boost their level with said set of weapons right off the bat. You can also set up human or monster characters Evilities. These effects will vary from being able to do two counter attacks instead of one or taking half damage from monster units on the map. You can also set up each unit to have a master, and the apprentice will learn all of the master’s skill if they use them enough in battle. This comes in handy when making healing units. Give them a master with attack magic, and you have yourself a healer that can do massive damage, as well. They even give you a choice of three different colors to make your allies.
One of the most interesting new features is that you can now mount your monsters and ride them into battle. This may sound kind of crazy, but it works really well. When you are riding the monsters, exclusive special moves will be available for use. You can also use the magic spells of the character riding the monster. This comes in handy when trying to level up low-level monsters, because all of the experience gained will be shared between the monster and rider. Another feature that I found really nice was that you can promote your character and monster classes. You may have been able to do this in Disgaea 3 or 4, but I haven’t had the time to complete those games yet, so this was new to me. You used to have to reincarnate your character or monster, and start them back at level 1 to raise their class. Now, you only have to choose promotion from The Dark Assembly menu and spend some mana. This took some of the needless padding out.
The other feature I love was the Cheat Menu. I know what you’re thinking – you don’t cheat at Disgaea! That defeats the point of the game. Well, this isn’t exactly cheating – you can adjust how much exp, hel, and other points are gained in battle, but here is the catch; you have to take away from one thing to give it to another. So, if you need more hel (money), for example, you might have the game give you less mana in battle and more hel. Although this is Disgaea, and is still very grind-heavy, this made it better because you can grind for more of what you need. You can adjust several other things from this menu, as well; for example, you can turn all the geo panels off in the item worlds. I think this would make the stages easier, but you would lose out on a ton of bonuses by doing this. I completed the game, and I still don’t know what all you can modify in this menu.
The translation work on this title done by NIS America is outstanding. The script writing, item descriptions and character descriptions are all very well done. The script is so well done that you feel like you know these characters a bit better by the end of the game, and that is what good stories should do. For example, Flonne was saying “We should talk to enemies,” and Etna replied “I know sign language so I’ll let my fist do the talking.” Another great example of this is when Etna had some statues made of Laharl, one statue she had made into a fountain. Well, guess where the water was coming out… His comment was “It looks like I am pissing my pants.” The off-beat humor for which the series is famous is all here. The item descriptions had me laughing out loud more than once. For example, an item called the “Beat Stick” has a description of “Now you can speak softly if you want to.” I think these little touches make this game all the better. I encourage everyone to take the time to read the item and character descriptions, you’ll find a lot to love there.
All in all, this is the best SRPG I’ve ever played. The few tweaks they did to the gameplay with the Cheat Menu and promotions took out a lot of unnecessary grinding. There is still a ton of grinding to do, but now you can grind what you need to level up rather than everything in general. There is a ton of different characters and monsters to choose from to form your party. There is a near infinite number of possibilities for you to choose from. It took me about 40 hours to complete the story mode, which unlocked a few new sections I can play for secret characters and such. You can always play random dungeons in the item world, and there is a New Game Plus option which you will need if you want to get all of the eight different endings this titles has to offer. The price tag of $50 for all this content cannot be beaten. If you are a Disgaea fan, a fan of SRPGs or just a fan of solid games with tons and tons of content, I would say you cannot go wrong with this one.
Game was provide by the publisher for review purposes.