A whole lot of Prinnies.
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited by Nippon Ichi Software is a bizarre strategic PS Vita title. For fans of the popular series, this will be nothing new as each of the previous games have a been a little bit weird.
Once you’ve started to play the game and immerse yourself into the Disgaea world, you’re greeted by the protagonist Valvatorez, who is a vampire tyrant with an odd fascination with sardines. You’ll also be introduced to Fenrich, whose duty it is to watch over and serve Valvatorez as a servant and caretaker of the Prinny prison. Valvatorez aims to renounce his powers in order to convert himself into a Prinny mentor, allowing him to train a team of blue pouch wearing penguins. Yeah, it really is that strange. Despite what promises to be a peculiar story, fans will understand that this anime-styled strategy RPG will not only weave a story to immerse the player in the game, but also that they will find themselves in an extraordinary world filled with mystery and intrigue .
The Disgaea games have always had a tendency to lean towards lengthy and sometimes unnecessary narrative, and Disgaea 4 is no different in that respect. The game will introduce you to some humorous characters with quirky personalities, all resting upon a dark underworld of drama and politics. If the unusual story is not of any interest, players will have the opportunity to skip through the majority of the narration and bury themselves in the solid gameplay.
Players begin in a hub which consists of a selection of merchants, offering everything from new weapons and skills to upgrading characters and getting additional content. Wandering around the hub, you can enter the Evility Shop, a place to learn and boost skills. You’ll need mana to purchase a skill and you get this when you have defeated an enemy in battle. Mana enables you to learn and power up skills. The stronger the enemy you defeat, the more mana you gain, although it is also possible to purchase more mana from the General Store. In the Netherworld, as long as you have mana, you can learn weapon-specific skills and magic in order to create a more powerful character.
Characters can also learn Evilities, which are special traits you can equip. There are various types such as poison and vaccine, which increases the chance to evade the enemy’s poison attack by 50%. Each character has a default Evility, which is unique to it’s class. Additionally, Humanoid units can equip` one more and monster units can equip two more. Purchasing an Evility doesn’t enable you to share this between characters. So, for instance, if you want two of your characters to equip poison and vaccine, they both still have to buy or learn the Evility separately. If you decide you want to stop using the Evility, you can sell it back to the merchant and get back some of your mana. You can also reinforce special skills, boosting the effect of skills you have learned. The power will increase for weapon-specific skills, while power and range will increase for magic.
From the hub, missions are replayable and your character will be immersed into a pre-made battlefield.
The main game takes place on a grid, which comes in a variety of shapes and forms, altering as you advance through the game. Enemies are placed into the grid and taking them on will often result in choosing to use Geoblocks and Geo Panels to gain strength in battle. These grid squares, which are colored, each provide effects to enemies or characters that stand upon them. This can result in enemies being marginly damaged, or effectively giving you extra bonus stats to increase your chances of winning. The Geo mechanics within the game enable you to perform various combo attacks, from stacking two characters on each other, fusing them together to create a Magichange. The Magichange allows you to fuse one of your monsters together with a human character, thus allowing you to create a giant monster to eradicate difficult to defeat enemies. Magichange isn’t a permanent process, but you can reap the benefits for a couple of turns, with a few additional and stronger hits to an enemy. The advantage is that your character’s attacks can increase the range and give you an additional boost in power. It can feel complicated at first and slightly overwhelming, but playing Disgaea games is a learning process.
After you’ve played a couple of battles, deploying your units and strategically navigating them around the grid, the gameplay feels quite familiar, even though it may be hard to understand all of the mechanics. The slowly progressing story, with its occasionally lengthy and overwhelming narratives, can lead the player to feel slightly disengaged from the game, but again this is something that series fans will be used to.
Visually, the Disgaea games have not really altered or radically changed since 2003, but it is clear, nice to look at, and a solid title for the PlayStation Vita.
The Disgaea games have always taken a little bit of getting used to, and Disgaea 4 is no different from the rest. But once you’ve become familiar with the game mechanics and the quirky characters, it becomes an interesting challenge to defeat the enemies and progress. The cut scenes are incredibly well done and finely polished, if somewhat confusing at times, and filled with humor. Playing Disgaea 4, I never really felt that I understood the full extent of the story, but the journey is delightful and entertaining nonetheless. Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is a solid turn-based strategy RPG with loads of character that will engage fans and provide an enjoyable challenge to newcomers.