By Jenae R / March 23rd, 2018
Opinions stated are those of the author and do not reflect upon oprainfall as a whole.
I’m a newcomer to the Disgaea franchise, yet I can’t believe I haven’t tried out this series sooner. It’s full of crazy characters, antics and over the top fun, with a large variety of different stages to enjoy. Disgaea is a series that every JRPG fan should give a shot sometime. I’d like to talk about the two entries I have played thus far, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited and Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance. What makes them different from each other? Why is my favorite the one that it is? Let’s dive in and find out.
When it comes to gameplay, these games are very similar, they are the two most recent entries. But D5 clearly stands out as the stronger of the two. It takes what made D4 great and then improves on all the little inconveniences in the gameplay. I could spend all day listing off the various upgrades, so for this article I only plan to focus on a handful. Let’s start with character creation. Whenever you’ve just unlocked a new class (aka a generic character) you wanna try out, yet the rest of your faves are already say, level 124, it can be a real pain. Monster characters aren’t that difficult to level up, magichange them to someone high leveled and go have fun. Humans on the other hand, not so much. It’s a welcome change to be able to pay HL (in game currency) and automatically make your new character as high-leveled as the others. Another small change is monsters being able to lift things. They can only throw objects and characters, not hold onto them like humans, but it opens up a whole new world of options. And speaking of throwing, everyone in D5 can throw characters within a set range. Before, in previous games, characters were only able to throw objects or other characters directly ahead of or behind them in a straight line. These are but a few examples of the various upgrades made to gameplay in Disgaea 5.
Content wise, I think Disgaea 5 took a major step back. I have yet to dive into D5’s postgame and I haven’t purchased the dlc yet. What I have seen and can speculate on though, is that Disgaea 4 has far more content. There are all of these backstories and other wacky side stories for the various main characters in the postgame. I’ve looked into what D5 has for a postgame (since I haven’t jumped into it yet) and it does unlock new stuff, such as restoring a certain ruined planet from earlier in the main game. But it doesn’t come close to the extent of all of the additional story and fun D4 has added. I don’t agree with how seemingly essential story got cut from Disgaea 4’s main game and was turned into paid dlc in the PS3 original, A Promise Unforgotten. Despite that, it is a large amount of amazing content and having that much new story to look forward to, makes the postgame grind less of a chore and a whole lot more exciting. Again though, having not actually delved into D5’s postgame just yet, I can’t accurately judge this and state anything as a 100% fact.
In addition to the apparent lack of side-story content and postgame, D5 has condensed a lot of features as well. The separate senate room from A Promise Revisited is now a variety of menus in Alliance of Vengeance. Evil Symbols have been reduced to nothing more than, you guessed it, a menu for squads in D5. Even the character world, once as large and crazy as the respective item world, has been turned into a one stage board game affair. The theme of it, being a large board game is for sure unique, but it’s so small in comparison to the previous character world. D4 let me get a lot of my postgame grinding done in its character world, it was more efficient than the item world. I feel like Disgaea 5 went overboard trying to streamline things and all the little cool areas and subtle features were stripped or converted into menus. Even the pirate ship content is gone. Nippon Ichi could have converted that into something else and left more extras in. There is some content replacing missing features, like the netherworlds exploration/research system, in which you pick a handful of your characters to explore a netherworld while you’re out dungeoning with the others. Regrettably, even this is nothing more than a menu and in the end only further made me feel that D5 was lacking so much.
A huge part of any Disgaea game, is the story. Sadly, there is an obvious tonal shift between these two titles. The fifth entry has a small fraction of the humor you typically find in a Disgaea title. While I have only played two entries thus far, I know the series is known for its humor and crazy antics. D5 follows suit to an extent, however, the humor is subtle this time in favor of a more dramatic story. When it comes to protagonists, we went from having a dethroned sardine loving tyrant who becomes a lowly prinny instructor and fights back against the corrupternment, to a dethroned curry loving tryant who lost his family and is committed to getting revenge against the man responsible. Fortunately Disgaea 5 has its own charm, the kind you can only get from a more dramatic story, but being a Disgaea game, you expect the humor to be emphasized and present at a higher degree and I felt let down.
In addition to finding myself not nearly as attached to the story, I don’t truly love D5’s characters to the extent that I do D4’s. Some people who have played Disgaea 4 don’t think they’re quality characters, they think everyone having their one thing about them, which they always bring up, is bland. I’m the complete opposite, I absolutely adore the characters, Fuka and Desco especially. Their one obsession makes them all the more ridiculous and they’ve also got these charming aspects about them. One example of that being Desco and how she tries so hard to get Fuka to approve of and love her. In Alliance of Vengeance I enjoy Usalia somewhat, she’s seemingly that game’s sweet and cute character, and Majorita is a most appealing villain. Though in the end, I wasn’t that into the characters. They’re okay, they’re just not nearly as over the top, ridiculous and loveable. It is possible Nippon Ichi purposely went for this change in tone and it’s what they wanted. It’s also entirely possible I’m extremely biased towards what was my first Disgaea game. Regardless, as I have stated previously, D5 is lacking in the humor department. Disgaea 5 could’ve done much better as its own stand alone game. My brain sees “Disgaea” and I end up not nearly as attached when it doesn’t feel like it belongs.
Ultimately, I’m only one Disgaea fan, a new one at that. My soft spot for Disgaea 4 is extremely apparent. D4 has even ended up becoming one of my favorite games. My 7 Fave Games list is definitely in need of an important update, one of those games is bound to be replaced. Anyhow, my own opinions are not fact. As I mentioned before, I could very likely be biased towards my first entry into the franchise. But still, it seems as if once I gave in and finally gave this series a shot, it had already peaked and it’s now dying down. I have serious doubts about whether Disgaea 6 will be an extraordinary game should a D6 come to fruition. I personally would love to have a game that mashes together the hilarity, fantastic characters and sheer amount of content from A Promise Revisited, with the much needed gameplay updates from Alliance of Vengeance. Nevertheless, I am but one fan of the series. We don’t all necessarily agree or want the same things for the series’ future. I’d love to hear what other Disgaea fans think of the direction the series is headed.
Disgaeadisgaea 4Disgaea 5Nippon IchiNippon Ichi SoftwareNISNISAPS VitaPS3PS4