Time to take back the Netherworld dood. Disgaea 2 is back and now it’s on PC, originally released back in early 2006 in Japan and America and late 2006 in Europe and Australia on the PS2 by Nippon Ichi Software. The company have developed many games since their founding in 1991 the most famous of these being the Disgaea series. The series focuses on Turn-Based Tactical RPG gameplay with JRPG elements and likes to tell comedy filled stories about darkness fighting amongst darkness with anime styled characters. The rereleased Disgaea 2 for PC has been updated to include the content from the PS2 and PSP version of Disgaea 2 as well as upgrades to various key features such as the UI, adding in keyboard and mouse support into the game and adding 3 new characters that were not released here in the west have also been added into this version of the game.
The story begins by explaining some of the back story of the world by explaining about the multiple Netherworlds containing Demons and Overlords that preside over them. The focus then switches to one human realm in particular called Veldime which is in the process of being turned into a Netherworld. The main character that is a young guy by the name of Adell and is the last human left he is seen in Holt village next to a big pot while a woman who is later revealed to be his mother performs a summoning ritual. This ritual is to summon the Overlord Zenon that cursed the realm to Adell’s location so that Adell can vanquish him and save the realm. Unfortunately, the ritual goes wrong and the daughter of the overlord named Princess Rozalin is summoned instead. In order to make up for this mistake Adell promises to return Rozalin to her father in exchange for the Overlords location so that Adell can destroy the Zenon and save the realm and its people. Over the course of the story Adell will meet many interesting characters some of which offer their services as shops, some of which he will fight and some that will assist him in his fights. The cutscenes will play out in different ways in-between battles to advance the plot these scenes can play out in a visual novel style with pictures of characters appearing on the screen and describing the events and their feelings towards these events as they happen. Cut scenes can also play out as in-map cutscenes with the characters sprites using various animations to portray how the character is reacting to the current situation.
The games fighting mechanics involve using strategy and wit to outmanoeuvr and overpower enemies on the battlefield. Starting battle off you will get to look over the entire battlefield at all enemy placements and decide which enemies need taking care of first. The player can then summon any characters of their choosing from their summon pool and position them where needed to perform their actions and attacks the characters can even chain up their attacks and perform new and devastating combos if they are within close enough proximity to one another. Characters have special attacks and actions that can be performed using SP and levelled up with each use these however cannot be chained with other characters attacks. Aside from this the game also includes the ability for players to lift and throw enemies, allies and map items to new locations which can give the player new options for tactics and attacks in order to outwit their foes and win the battle. Outside of battles the player can explore the hub town and access various shops and characters in order to increase their teams’ effectiveness in battle, there are shops that can be used to purchase various equippable items to increase characters stat attributes such as Attack, Defence, speed, etc. There are also shops that allow the player to select an owned item and enter a world created with that item in order to upgrade it further these item worlds work as a sort of dungeon mode allowing players to go up from floor to floor with each floor increasing in difficulty by adding new mechanics, higher level monsters and transferring the health and SP remaining of the players characters from the previous floor. Another extra area the town includes allows the player to enter the dark assembly which acts as a kind of Demon Parliament which requires the player to bribe and threaten to create characters and pass certain legislations. Through all the training and upgrading you can perform on your characters it is possible to get characters up to a maximum Level of 9999 which can be performed multiple times as characters can be reincarnated back to level 1 at any time.
The game has received a shiny new UI update to increase the resolution from the original version which does increase the overall look of the game the older version of the UI is also available too if you want to play the game with the full nostalgia of the original. A problem I have found with the UI is that because of the colours chosen it makes some of the stat numbers difficult to read especially when they are in blue. Unfortunately, the rest of the graphics look dated the character sprites look out of focus and blurry and the graphics of the terrain look mismatched as the seams of a lot of the squares stand out which lowers the overall look of the game. The rest of the assets such as houses, pots, trees, boxes, etc look fine but still could be improved with higher resolution textures. Overall I find that while the UI update is nice it would have been better to see a resolution and graphical update to the rest of the game especially the characters and terrain which are the main parts of the game. The visual novel cutscenes are easily the part of the game that has the highest graphics they look really good compared to a current game using this style of cutscene. A good point I will note about this game and the series in general is that there use of character sprites is great each character looks unique to another apart from upgraded character types which just swap colour palette but apart from that each character feels separate and the moves they have include great animation and variation. Another thing to note is that while the game’s theme is centred on Demons and the Netherworld the designers have made the graphics light and comical wherever possible.
The acting and the dialogue in the game is top-notch as with each game in the series the dialogue is made to feel comedic and fun while also maintaining the ability to switch back to a serious tone at any time in order to keep the focus on the plot and keep it going forward. Even with the focus on comedy these comedic moments are quite random as to when they happen sometimes occurring in during the most serious of scenes they help build the backgrounds of many of the main characters and the world itself within the story. There are also a lot of comedic lines that are used in with a more serious tone these lines are generally 4th wall breaking lines referencing things that the characters cannot possibly see such as mentioning levels or titles even to the point of changing characters names mid-story. Comedy is a key for the stories in the Disgaea series even though the stories themselves are dark and tragic at the core including topics such as betrayal, murder, abandonment, crime and other evils that the comedy makes light of creating a truly unique storytelling experience. The game’s soundtrack is composed by Tenpei Sato who is a video games composer and voice actor, Tenpei Sato has been the sole composer throughout the entire Disgaea series so far as well as composing soundtracks for other series developed by Nippon Ichi. Despite the comical nature of the story the music in Disgaea is very serious music the battle area music adds to the battles and makes unleashing moves more of an event, even the village music feels as though it would be more welcome in a big city environment.
Disgaea 2 should take around 30+ hours to complete the main story however completing everything will take upwards of 400 hours. The game is still as great as when it first came out with the added extras of the PSP version and Japan exclusive characters it is guaranteed to make fans of the series very happy. The downside to such a great release is the neglect of the visuals which is so desperately needed as increasing these would have improved the overall this games enjoyability by tenfold. Hopefully if Nippon Ichi has plans to release the rest of the Disgaea series on PC as they have this one and the previous they can improve the resolution of the graphics aswell as the UI. Lastly, I would like to point out that there are not many Strategy RPG games out there these days as they seem to be a dying breed and have also been mostly pushed into the handheld market but what with all the newer innovations into gaming it is unlikely that many more will surface. It is nice to have some of the older ones updated and rereleased but it is unlikely that this will rejuvenate the genre.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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