Review – Disgaea 4 Complete+
Disgaea is a series that you’ll either love, hate, or never have heard of and I’m sorry, but there are no options other than those three.
A hardcore-focused, turn-based strategy roleplaying game (SRPG) that started out as most similar to classic SRPG Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea’s development team have been unrelenting in adding new, more complicated gameplay mechanics to it with every release – and I love them for it. The result is Disgaea 4 Complete+, a game that’s simple enough to pick up and play, but incredibly difficult to really master every element of.
And the word ‘element’ isn’t used casually, as my favourite game mechanic are the elemental panels – called Geo Panels – that litter the battlefields. It reminds me of the elemental streams that you could divert and then purify to create giant chains and do incredible damage to enemies in La Pucelle: Tactics, another Nippon Ichi game, though this mechanic is a little less interactive.
Each terrain square’s element grants a boost – exp gain, invulnerability, damage boost – to units on them, and can be changed by destroying colour change cubes on them. This necessitates picking up and throwing cubes to key locations, and on some levels this can mean a chain of characters getting into exactly the right position to heave a block halfway across the map in a single turn just so one final character can destroy it and chain reaction the entirety of the map in one glorious action.
It adds a huge tactical element to the combat, and it’s something I really enjoyed even if its usefulness did get outstripped by other gameplay mechanics later in the game.
Those mechanics? Magichange, the ability to turn monster companions into weapons that you can use, Monster Fusion, where you combine multiple monsters into one giant version of them, and leveling up your items using the Item World. Each item contains its own Item World, and venturing into it and advancing through levels within the item will greatly boost its stats. Think that’s cool? Then you’re going to love Chara World, as each character ALSO has a world within them that can be explored to boost their stats.
If you’re a fan of grinding, and I mean the fun kind of ‘I wonder how far I can take this’ grinding, then you’re going to LOVE Disgaea 4 Complete+.
Character creation, Magichange, Monster Fusion, Item World, Chara World, and even a touch of government with the Cam-Paign HQ (a place in your base in Hades where you can distribute and power up units), and the ability to pass bills in the Assembly – using bribery or violence to swing the vote – in order to influence the world…there are a ton of game systems to use and abuse on your way to the final confrontation. There’s just so much to do in Disgaea 4 Complete+ that it can feel a little overwhelming…
And that’s when I go back to farming older levels a bit, trying to perfect my cube placements and character movements!
The campaign is about as weird as you’d expect from the series, with some pretty ridiculous sardine jokes and an overuse of the word ‘d00d’ that will take some time for me to recover from, but it has a number of twists I didn’t see coming and don’t want to spoil. I think that even if you’re not necessarily a longtime Disgaea fan you can come into this game and still enjoy it, just don’t expect to take it too seriously. I mean you’re an evil vampire named Valvatorez who’s fighting the Corrupternment (government) because they interfered with his promise to train Prinnies (human souls damned to Hades that look like penguins and say ‘d00d’ constantly) – and that’s the part of the story that’s the most sane…
Disgaea 4 Complete+ release October 29, 2019 on the PS4 and Nintendo Switch – Switch version reviewed using code provided by the publisher.
PLEASE NOTE: There are some online features promised for shortly after launch that aren’t currently able to be tested like building your own maps and letting people play them or sending your minions into other people’s Item Worlds. If I get a chance, I’ll circle back to amend the review with how well those are implemented at that time.