A tactical RPG like so many others, this game is sequel to Disgaea parts one, two, and three. At first glance there’s very little difference between this installment and the previous games—and that may in fact be true.
The story of Disgaea 4: A Promise revisited follows the protagonist, a former tyrant of the netherworld. His name is Lord Valvatorez, and he is a vampire—complete with flowing black cape and all. But this vampire no longer drinks human blood—and as the title has foretold its because he made a promise to someone, but you learn more about that as the game goes.
So how does this colorful creature survive? By eating sardines of course. Yes, in every stage he talks nonsensically about the strength sardines gives, in almost every attack he cries out, ‘Sardines’. While this was likely meant to be humorous, it quickly grows old and leaves the player annoyed and wanting to put down the game. The voice acting itself is actually fine—pretty good actually, except for when Lord Val speaks—sometimes it will show the dialogue in the dialogue box, but he will speak so low you won’t hear a word he says. This can pose problems for those who actually care about the story.
The gameplay mechanics are almost exactly a clone of the previous version; Disgaea 3. The game has all of the same fan favorite monsters, all of the character classes you could ask for, and the ability to level up to level 9,999. Why would you want to do so? So you can beat the ultimate hidden bosses of course—and if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life playing this game, you can simply follow the story and just end it there… but even that takes quite a while as one battle can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more.
Some of the other features of Disgaea 4, include the ‘Item World’. Here, you can enter an item and raise the level of the weapon itself, making it more powerful. The stages inside are completely randomized, and the monsters increase in strength with every stage you complete. Don’t worry though, if you spend too long in an item, you have the chance to get out every ten levels. This alone can take hours upon hours just to lose precious data if you die. What they should’ve added is an in game save option instead of having to wait to get back to the headquarters.
The puzzle aspect of certain levels will either have you pulling your hair out, or wracking your brain for a strategy on how to survive. Different panels, sometimes have different colors, which are linked to Geo Blocks. These blocks, correspond with said colored panel, and some of the effects are just plain out nasty. And in truth, there is no reason for these blocks to be there. They just are. This can truly lead to rage quits.
So if you want to make it to level 9,999 there are some interesting after game bosses, and hidden characters you can employ—many of which are from the previous games. Each stage, the enemies strengthen more than they should, and force one to replay old levels just to ‘level up’. And sometimes its difficult to find a proper stage to do this on, forcing you far back and making leveling even more difficult.
While the game has an interesting storyline, the gameplay is just too lackluster to stand up, let’s be honest, better quality games. Disgaea 4 is nothing more than a clone of the first three parts. If you enjoyed all three of them, you’ll likely enjoy this part. But if you find yourself trying to struggle through tactical RPGs, I would not recommend this game.
The trophy set is sure to make a blemish on a trophy hunter’s record. There are easy trophies for beating each chapter, and then there are insanely difficult trophies that basically make a player level to max level to fight certain bosses. Some are poorly worded and offer no real description on how to achieve said trophy.
The game does deserve some love because it’s not all bad. The opening anime sequence has some beautiful art, and catchy music. But really that’s about it. The game gets a low score, 6.0. It lacks originality, and is proving yet again Disgaea is a one trick pony. It could have evolved so much from part one, which was a great game when it first came out—but it didn’t need it a port. Neither did part three and also part four. If you’re looking for a great tactical RPG it may be best to head back to the PS1 days and pick up one of those awesome titles that really put this genre on the map.
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