|Dev: Nippon Ichi Software|
|Pub: NIS America|
|Release: September 6, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, Animated Blood, Language|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
If you've never played a Disgaea game before, the premise is fairly simple. The series follows a group of rag-tag group of demons (and a few angels too) as they try and take over the world—or order take-out food. Most of its charm comes from the game's irreverent take on plot, pop culture, and self-referential jokes.
Disgaea 4 takes the exact same approach as its predecessors. The story this time focuses on the vampire Valvatorez, who made a promise to scare a girl he met 400 years before. Valvatorez's powers have been in decline since this particular instance, and he finds himself entangled in the Netherworld's bureaucracy. So what's a vampire to do? Become the overlord and try and destroy the Earth, of course.
The story is completely over the top and crazy, but it's exactly what fans of the series expect. If you have yet to jump into the Disgaea series, you don't really need to worry about previous events in the series, as Disgaea 4 gives you the basic setup pretty quickly. Sure, you might not get all the jokes, but you'll laugh hard enough when everything from pop culture icons to RPG conventions to even the President of the United States get completely skewered by the cast of Disgaea 4.
Although the story is an amazing part of Disgaea 4, the best reason to check this game out is for the battle system. Though the turn-based RPG series has been going the way of the dinosaur (at least on consoles) in recent years, Disgaea 4 is more than happy to satisfy those of us who still have a soft spot for strategy-based play. When battle is initiated, the game places you on a familiar grid. You'll have to summon heroes from a central point (when and how you deploy your units is completely up to you) and then place them in a 3D space fraught with obstacles and stacked enemies.
Interestingly, instead of just challenging you to use your regular, defensive, and special attacks in the right order, Disgaea 4 challenges you to use your environment to your advantage. You can use Geo Blocks to dole out bonuses (or avoid traps) and can pick up and throw obstacles to create an easier path to enemies. You can even stack characters into towers to create one-of-a-kind combination attacks.
The battle system is quite deep, and there are hundreds of ways you can approach each battle. However, even more depth is piled on when you add character customization to the mix. Though each character has a predetermined class assigned to them, weapons-based attacks, "evilities," and, of course, magic attributes can all be customized to the Nth degree. Though you don't have to be a menu junkie to really enjoy Disgaea 4, the game absolutely rewards those who take the time to dive in head-first into its character customization system. The result is gameplay that can last nearly 50 hours.
And that's just the regular story mode. Like previous Disgaea games, Disgaea 4 has a lengthy post-game campaign. Be aware, though, the post-game is not for the faint of heart. Once again, the level cap is set to 9999, and you'll be surprised just how close you'll have to come to that in order to get through the post-game content. If you absolutely love the grind, Disgaea 4 will satisfy you. Though the turn-based RPG scene is small, this might be the last game you'll need to get you through the fall. It's that long.
If you need even more reason to get lost in the whimsical world of Disgaea, there is an online component to the game as well. You can infiltrate other players' senates and spread corruption, or play it safe and compare stats. Though the online mode isn't an essential part of the game, it's a nice little bonus for those who choose to take advantage of it.