Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited Review for PS Vita

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited Review for PS Vita

Politics Is the Devil

Nippon Ichi is on a devilish mission to port its Disgaea series to every platform imaginable. The latest manifestation of that mission is Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited for the PlayStation Vita. With an entertaining story, great characters, insanity-packed combat system, and a nice balance between progress and grind, the original PlayStation 3 game was a high point for the series. This ultimate edition makes it even better, packing it with a number of useful quality of life improvements, all the original DLC, and a new scenario.

Disgaea 4 tackles the world of politics with the series’ trademark lighthearted satire, reflecting our society through the funhouse mirror of the demonic Netherworld. Instead of having the task of caring for its citizens, the demonic “corrupternment” is tasked with creating powerful demons who can scare humans into behaving. When that government fails at its task, it’s up to the fallen vampire lord Valvatorez to mount the demonic version of a political campaign, which involves beating the opposition into submission on the battlefield. Politics is a great target for Disgaea’s trademark wacky humor, and a bit of unconvincing wordplay aside, the humor is spot on.

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited Screenshot

Lord Valvatorez and his faithful but conniving werewolf servant Fenrich form the heart and soul of the game. Lord Val is a painfully sincere demon who lost his power centuries ago when made a promise that stopped him from drinking human blood. Fenrich, in a reversal of the usual vampires versus werewolves trope, is completely devoted to his lord and determined to help Val become a powerful tyrant again, even if it pulling dirty tricks in order to save Valvatorez from his own tendency to make foolish promises. The contrast between these two characters makes for some highly amusing scenes, and the game is at its best when they share the screen together.

The rest of the game’s cast is often better in concept than execution, like Fuka, a deceased middle schooler who firmly believes she’s having a dream despite ample evidence to the contrary, or Desco, an adorable octopus monster who desires to be a powerful final boss. They’re fun in small doses, but tend to get a bit repetitive the more they’re given the spotlight. Still, the story as a whole is a fun ride that is almost as good as the original Disgaea . It’s not quite as laugh-out-loud funny, but it treads new ground and doesn’t go completely off the rails as much as that game did.

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited Screenshot

Since politics is literally war in the Netherworld, the main gameplay consists of turn-based strategic battles that take place on gridded battlefields. Players have the ability to create a plethora of different character and monster types for their army, each of which brings unique attacks to the battlefield. Success in battle requires smart character development, good troop placement, and a strategy that protects vulnerable characters and takes advantage of enemy weaknesses. It also requires a bit of grinding for most players, since the enemies in the game’s story levels tend to outpace the average player party. Luckily, the game provides several options like the infamous Item World to allow characters to level up without endlessly repeating the same maps.

Players have the option to delve into various systems that add complexity to battle, such as using monster characters as weapons or learning crazy attacks that require characters to stack on top of each other, cheerleader-style. These systems can be quite fun and provide interesting options that keep things fresh. Enemy characters will often demonstrate the game’s advanced tactics, giving players the opportunity to organically learn how to perform the more interesting feats. As long as you’re the kind of player who has the patience for this kind of turn-based system and either tolerate or enjoy the occasional grinding, you’ll find a lot to enjoy in Disgaea 4 ‘s battles.

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited Screenshot

Out of battle, there are lots of avenues available to customize and advance your characters. Most notable in Disgaea 4 is the Cam-Pain Headquarters, in which characters can be placed strategically on a map of the world. Those who stand next to each other have a higher chance to perform linked attacks, and the player can also place various buildings that help characters perform better in battle or share experience points. It’s a nice extra layer of strategy which also gives players options to reduce grinding time.

Unlocking Cam-Pain HQ advancements, along with a variety of other gameplay options, involves successfully holding a vote in the demonic Senate. This requires playing dirty politics, lying, bribing, and when all else fails, beating up senators in order to get them on your side. Though similar systems have existed throughout the series, the political theme of this game makes the Senate particularly appropriate here. The Senate can be tricky, but clever players will discover plenty of ways to work the system. All these systems are tailor-made for players who love to juggle numbers and dig into complex RPG systems, and they’re solid, have a strong purpose, and are balanced well.

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited Screenshot

In a nutshell, Disgaea 4 is an excellent turn-based strategy RPG with a ton of depth, a strong humorous element, and a good story. This Vita version adds even more of those three elements to the game, while also providing some quality of life improvements that will be appreciated by Disgaea mega-fans. The two most notable additions to the game are a new Time Leap scenario that delves into the game’s backstory and the addition of all the DLC from the original PlayStation 3 game. This gives players a bunch of new characters to use and levels to complete, although I was disappointed that most of the additional content focused more on Fuka and Desco than Valvatorez and Fenrich. Various minor improvements like an extra tier of spells, the ability to bribe the senate with money instead of items, and skill tweaks will mostly be noticed by hardcore players, but everybody can appreciate the new ability to quickly exit from a battle and either retry it or return to base.

Disgaea 4 ‘s colorful world looks great on the PlayStation Vita’s screen, especially the game’s crisp character sprites. Everything looks extra smooth on the smaller HD screen, and all the text remains easy to read. The lack of a free camera or an overhead view of battle can be problematic in some levels, especially on the crowded fields in the Item World, but that’s the only disadvantage to playing the game on a handheld.

As usual, the game’s score is fantastic and perfectly suited to its humorous content. Several vocal tracks stand out in particular, managing to convey humor even if you can’t understand the Japanese lyrics because the game’s composers have managed to perfectly blend the trademark Disgaea musical style with the kind of artificially stirring composition found in political propaganda music. Headphones make for the best listening experience, but the game sounds rather good even through the Vita’s speakers. Voice acted lines occasionally drop off drastically in volume, but otherwise the sound quality is better than normal for a Vita game.

If you’ve never played Disgaea 4 , this is the best version to get thanks to its extra content and quality of life tweaks. If you played the original, your purchase decision entirely depends on how much you love Disgaea . I don’t feel like the additions to the game are compelling enough to draw in casual fans who have already completed the game, especially since the lack of a cross-save feature means you’ll have to start over from square one. If you’re one of the Disgaea hardcore, however, you’ll love exploiting the game’s new systems, recruiting all the cameo characters that were formerly paid DLC, and playing through the new scenario.

Thanks to the strongest story since the original Disgaea , a battle system that is easy to pick up but has plenty of complexity, and the crazy amount of fun extra activities that can extend playtime, Disgaea 4 is a must-have turn-based strategy RPG. This Vita version is highly recommended for its portability and extra content. Playing politics in the Netherworld is a dirty and violent game, and genre fans will enjoy every minute of it.

Looks even better on Vita than on PS3, except on some of the more cramped battlefields. 4.0 Control
Controls are intuitive and menus are generally easy to navigate. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is fantastic and comes across well even through the Vita speakers. 5.0 Play Value
Disgaea 4 on the Vita provides even more hours (upon hours) of turn-based strategy fun than the original game. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Tons of bonus content, including brand-new scenarios exclusive to this release, adding more backstory to some of your favorite characters, all in hi-res sprites.
  • New characters, as well as cameo appearances by characters from previous Disgaea games. A new tier of spells, job specific techniques, as well as other gameplay enhancements.
  • Includes all of the downloadable content that was available on the PS3 version.
  • Enjoy English in-game text and English & Japanese in-game voices.

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