Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance review

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For the last 12 years, Nippon Ichi Software’s Disgaea series has set itself apart from every other tactical RPG game out there with its wacky, over-the-top characters along with a pretty fun and intense battle system. You can literally have hundreds of hours of gameplay with a level cap of 9,999 and the ability to create an army to command. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is the sixth installment of the series for the PlayStation 4 and it takes some of the best features from all the previous titles and improves them including adding some really cool features, making this game one of the best in the series.

Disgaea 5’s plot is centered around revenge and the main character, Killia, who  seeks revenge against a demon overlord named Void Dark. He travels around defeating Void Dark’s Lost Army, and soon after, he meets a few Overlords who share a common goal like Seraphina (a strong and beautiful overlord who possesses an ability to turn men into her slave) and Red Magnus (a muscle-bound fiery overlord who turns into a giant and likes to talk like a professional wrestler). While the demon Overlords act like everyone else, it’s their personalities, issues and problems that bring them closer together as a team. There’s plenty of amusing interactions and jokes to make it worth reading.

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One of the game’s newest features is the Revenge mode, which really makes a huge difference in how the battle progresses in the game. In battle, when a player takes damage or is defeated, a bar fills up. When that bar is full, they enter Revenge mode. In that mode, characters with an Overload mode can activate it for a short time (each with its own unique effect like multiple clones, stat boosts or even an attack that can damage all enemies on screen) which lasts for up to three turns. This mode also lowers the costs of SP skills down to 1 (meaning you can use your most powerful skills for up to 3 turns for the cost of 1 SP, no matter how much it costs to use). Also, along with a few new classes and the ability to unlock more characters per stage, one of the best additions to the game is the Maougis, which lets you partner up certain characters together to use a special double-team attack.

Since your level cap is 9,999, prepare to grind stages & levels quite a bit, especially early on in the game’s Story Mode, where enemies get stronger in each stage. While it does get repetitive, especially late in the game, when you want to reach level 1,000 and above, it’s important to find different ways to level up faster. Luckily, the Cheat Shop returns from Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness, making it easier to choose how much experience, mana, money, and weapon experience you gain. It can even increase the enemy’s level (which can really help you in gaining levels faster). I’ve always loved the Item World from previous games since it allows you to just take your most powerful weapon and raise its attack by hundreds or thousands of levels. There is literally so many more things to do and visit, and with some online support (like information on other characters, sending gifts, visiting their made stages and creating your own worlds), there is a lot to explore.

One reason I’ve always been drawn to the Disgaea series is due to Nippon Ichi Software still using 2D sprites and animations to create great characters and worlds. I still remember first looking at Laharl back in the first game and instantly got hooked on that character and his art style. While he is still my favorite character in the series today, Disgaea 5’s characters leave the same impression on me (and more thanks to great use of the PlayStation 4’s graphics), leading to much more detailed images which look sharp and vivid with colors. Everything meshes so well together, and while the game uses the same formula, the improvements and additions really stand out.

For me, Disgaea 5’s soundtrack felt like the weakest one compared to previous games in the series, but it was still enjoyable. While I normally loved spending time in my base listening to the theme, D5’s theme just didn’t have that same effect on me. In fact it was quite the opposite, causing me to lose interest. Luckily, you can change it to any number of songs (including tracks from previous games), leaving me to select Laharl’s theme from the first game (and not just only in your base).

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Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is the by far the best game in the series, and even if you’ve never played a Disgaea game before, this is a great place to start since it’s packed with so much content and places to explore. I’ve reached about 74 hours of gameplay at this point with a few of my characters at level 1,000. It’s fun finding new methods to power up my team to which I’ve come up with a few different ways (including the Item World and Chara World, so it never ends). Even after beating the game, you still have much more to do with extra scenarios and battles to explore.

It’s easy to get lost in the enjoyment and silliness of the Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance and if you’ve been holding out on buying a PlayStation 4 to wait for a great JRPG, then this is one you shouldn’t miss.

Rating: 4 out 0f 5

NR 4 Atoms - B(1)

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