REVIEW: Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance

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Disgaea 5 | Box Art
Title Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
Developer NIS
Publisher NISA
Release Date October 6, 2015
Genre SRPG
Platform PlayStation 4
Age Rating Teen
Official Website

It’s time once again to visit the Netherworld for another installment of the long running Disgaea franchise. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is the first entry on the new PlayStation 4 hardware, so I was very interested to see what improvements have been made. I loved Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited on the PlayStation Vita, so my expectations were pretty high going into this one. Let’s see if they were met or maybe even exceeded.

The story opens with a powerful Overlord, Void Dark, conquering one Netherworld after the next. As he moves forward, his Lost Army grows more powerful by converting inhabitants of the fallen worlds. Seraphina, the princess of the Netherworld Gorgeous, has run away from home determined to get revenge on Void Dark for an arranged marriage her father set up and has found herself in a bit of a situation. A wandering demon, Killia, will come to her aid. He also seeks revenge on Void Dark for killing his family. The two, with the help of some other displaced Overlords, form an alliance of vengeance and amass a rebel army to exact their revenge and put an end to to Void Dark’s reign of terror.

Disgaea 5 | Seraphina Skills

The story is a bit more serious in this entry. That doesn’t mean it is devoid of the humor and wit that make this franchise stand out. I felt the overall story was great and probably my favorite in the franchise thus far. I loved most of the characters this time around. Watching their personalities evolve as the story played out was not only entertaining, but heartfelt and relatable. One thing that felt a bit odd was Red Magnus. I get he’s supposed to be this big, musclebound, hot headed wrestler type, but he steals enough of “The Rock’s” lines to make Dwayne Johnson raise “The People’s Eyebrow” more than once. While this was entertaining, I can’t help but wonder if a lot of liberties were taken here during localization.

The graphics are simply amazing. This is some of the best sprite work I’ve ever seen. Everything is bright and colorful and very few jagged edges are showing, even when it zooms in for some of the crazy over the top special moves. The framerate and animations are smooth as butter, and there are no framerate drops of any kind. Character and enemy models are very detailed, and you can unlock a really great color editor to customize things a bit to your liking.

Disgaea 5 | Sword Inferno

While the music and sounds are not much different from what you would find in other entries in the series, I felt it was all very nicely done. The music is all new and still has that lighthearted yet somehow serious feel for combat. There are few slower, more somber tones to supply emotion for the darker tone found here. The English voice cast is great and bring these characters’ personalities to life. This one is dual audio, so if you prefer the Japanese VA, it is here for your enjoyment.

While the core gameplay of the series is the same here, there have been many tweaks and new features added. The game is still divided into chapters that contain around 5 or 6 missions each. Everything is still turn based as you move on a grid based map and the other usual features. In this review I will be focusing on what’s new. If you wanna know more about the core gameplay mechanics, check out my review of Disgaea 2.

Disgaea 5 | Squads

One of the biggest changes here is you can form squads with your party members. While this is not new to the series, it is done with a menu and is much less confusing than in previous entries. You will need to capture prisoners and interrogate them in order to level up your squads for bigger bonuses. Another big change is your characters rank will now go up automatically. You will not have to go to the Dark Assembly and spend mana to upgrade your Valkyrie from a Lady Fighter to a Lady Warrior, for example. This cut out a lot of time and unnecessary grinding found in previous games. Another great feature found in this entry is that you can now play extra HL when creating a character to start them on a higher level. This level cannot exceed you highest character’s level but it doesn’t cost an outrageous amount and saves a ton of grinding. There are a ton of new classes to play around with, which include Dark Knight, Sage, and Pirate. There are some new monsters as well, such as a  Nine-Tails, Bear and a few others.

The combat itself has some new aspects as well. There is a new gauge called a Revenge Gauge. This will fill up as your allies are defeated or you defeat an enemy in Revenge Mode. Revenge Mode will occur when the gauge is full. This will grant you a few perks such as your critical rate becoming 100%, SP cost for all skills becomes 1 and damage is reduced by 25%. All that is great but it is even better for your Overlords. They have additional skills call Overloads that can be activated when in Revenge Mode. These have various effects from being able to charm a whole horde of enemies at once to growing to giant size for tons of extra damage. These perks will last three rounds and can really turn the tide of battle if you find yourself in a pinch. But be aware, the enemies can use these types of skills as well.

Disgaea 5 | Overloads

Another great addition to the combat are the Alliance Skills. These will not unlock to till later in the game, but they are not only fun to look at, they are also highly effective. To perform these, just have two of your main characters that can execute one stand on adjacent panels and select them from the skills menu. Lastly, in addition to Geo Effects on the battlefield, there are now Netherworld Effects. These vary based on which Netherworld you’re doing combat in. For example, on Demunshroom, random mushrooms will grow at the end of each turn. You can use these to your advantage if you plan ahead a bit.

Another new feature I would like to mention is the Chara World. Here, your characters are placed in a board game like world where you will roll the dice and move from block to block. You can get some really great bonuses if you are lucky, since a lot of panels you land on are question marks that do random effects, and these can range from a permanent stat increase to losing a ton of HL. Each of the three difficulties has a goal you will have to reach in a certain number of turns. If you reach this goal, you can pick from several different bonuses. These include extra Evility slots, improved criticals, or movements. You could do something similar to this in Disgaea 4 with some item world style battles, but this is much more fun.

The Nether Research Squad is the last feature I would like to cover. Here, you can send out characters to research other Netherworlds. They will gain levels and mana while they are away as well as bring back some helpful items. They may even uncover a stray Overlord or two looking for a fight.

Disgaea 5 | Chara World Event

I really enjoyed my time with Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance. From the amazing sprite work to finely honed gameplay, NIS has shown here that sometimes it is better to build on what works rather than change things for the sake of change. For $59.99 there is a ton of content. It took me around 65 hours to beat the main story and I haven’t even scratched the surface. This is without a doubt the best and most accessible entry in this magnificent series and should not be missed by anyone.

Review Score

Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

About Steve Baltimore

Steve started with oprainfall not long after the campaign moved from the IGN forums to Facebook. Ever since, he has been fighting to give all non-mainstream RPGs a fair voice. As the site admin, he will continue to do this and even show there is value in what some would deem "pure ecchi." He loves niche games and anime more than anything... well, except maybe Neptune.