2017 was an incredible year for Nintendo. The release of its latest console, the Switch, a hybrid concept initially met with a combination of excitement, confusion, and uncertainty, quickly reminded fans how the company got to where it is today. Helped by a series of critically acclaimed games – Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Splatoon 2, to name a few – Nintendo yet again proved its worth within the ‘big three’.
What’s perhaps most impressive about the console, though, is Nintendo’s willingness to invest in the lesser-known titles. By offering a platform to older games, the company has given another lease of life to developers and their games that, no doubt, many people would have initially missed out on. Just one of these examples is Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance, a title first released in 2015 on the PlayStation 4.
Disagaea 5: Complete, as it’s known on the Switch, is an all-inclusive version of the 2015 anime hit, compiling the original game and all available DLC into one, neat and tidy title. It’s a strategy role-playing game, showcasing the very best of what strategy and Japanese role playing games have to offer.
For those who played the vanilla game in 2015, there is still every reason to pick up Nintendo’s version. For starters, the extra missions, items, and characters makes for a multitude of different scenarios that can add an extra few dozens of hours of gameplay at least. Then there’s the Switch itself; Nintendo’s hybrid console allows players to take advantage of the game both at home and on the go. Disagaea 5 is a game that rewards you the more time you invest in its world, and so the ability to play it on the move is a real treat. Unlike the Vita versions of Disgaea, the Switch’s portable mode does the game justice, making you equally as involved as playing on the big screen.
Newcomers to Disgaea 5, and even the series as a whole, have Nintendo to thank for the revival of a magical title. The game involves a huge variety of different characters to play as, each part of unique factions within the game’s world, Netherworld. This is the basis for the game’s strategical elements: in battle you’ll have to decide which characters to use, when to use them, and what moves and weapons to utilize. This makes the game a hugely open one, with a near-infinite number of possibilities.
Combat can become a complex affair the deeper you delve into Disgaea 5, but don’t let that put you off. Tutorials are there to guide you the whole way, and if you miss one, simply read over them during battle to refresh your memory. At no point do you feel swamped with information as a new player, as you’re given pieces of information bit by bit. This adds to the sense of achievement as you do improve in skill, and by the end, or at least 20 hours in, you’ll really start to recognise how far you’ve come in terms of strategy.
While the unique and in-depth gameplay keeps you focussed, the story itself will give you respite. The narrative isn’t serious – in fact, it’s only there as an add-on to the combat – but it’s still a huge amount of fun. The main characters offer charm and delight, the main character, Killia, the driving force behind the story. In the game’s central hub alone, the Netherworld, NPCs are there to aid you in your quests. Whether it be a doctor or weapons dealer, each member of the team has something interesting to say or offer. For a game so seemingly small, Disgaea 5 has a depth that even some modern day RPGs can’t match. It’s a joy to spend time discovering the world and the creatures it inhabits.
If you haven’t played any of the Disgaea games hitherto, fret not; with the exception of Disgaea 2, each game is unique, following a different story with original characters. You do find the odd reference to previous titles, including characters that sometimes appear, but this has no impact to the game as a whole. Disagea 5 can be enjoyed in its entirety without the need to play the previous 4 titles and spin-offs. It’s both a great successor to the previous games and an ideal entry point to the series.
Disgaea 5 is a unique blend of two already-similar genres. In the same way that Final Fantasy Tactics took the central themes and characters from the main series and turned it into a true strategy game, Disgaea uses the best of the JRPG and strategy genres to add depth to character, narrative, and combat. It’s no surprise that such games – Final Fantasy Tactics in particular – have found their home in mobile gaming. With the Switch at its disposal, Disgaea 5 shows why strategy games and handheld make such an exciting team.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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