The Disgaea series has always fused wickedly humorous storylines featuring ostensibly evil heroes with deeply strategic and rewarding battles. The good and bad news about Disgaea 4 is that very little has changed. A smart and funny tale invigorates this quest: the vampiric Valvatorez is perhaps the series' most likable hero yet, and he stars in what is almost certainly its richest and funniest story. But the battle system has seen little change since the previous entry, so as satisfying as the combat is, a feeling of sameness pervades this adventure. Still, Disgaea 4 gives you plenty of absorbing tactical concerns both on and off the battlefield, making it an enjoyable way to spend anywhere from a few dozen hours to a few hundred.
6334969NoneRemovable skulls sure come in handy.
Some promises are harder to keep than others, but for Valvatorez, a promise is a sacred thing, to be honored no matter the personal sacrifice it requires. For reasons that aren't immediately clear, Valvatorez has sworn to no longer drink the blood of humans. He was once fearfully referred to as "The Blood-Soaked Valvatorez of Absolute Evil" and "The King of Carnage and Atrocity," but his power has diminished tremendously since he made his vow and forswore the empowering delights of drinking human blood. Now, he works as a prinny instructor, just another cog in the wheel of the vast netherworld bureaucracy. But he doesn't let the lowering of his station dampen his spirits, and he has even found a new culinary treat to adore: sardines. Valvatorez sings their praises at every opportunity, going so far as to interrupt story sequences to shower you with facts you didn't care to know about sardines. He's a great central character for this tale, and the large cast of friends and foes is composed of similarly strange and delightful characters. Valvatorez's sycophantic werewolf servant Fenrich manages to convince himself that his master's most glaring mistakes are actually acts of incomprehensible virtue and brilliance. Former middle-schooler Fuka can't accept that she has died and been sent to the netherworld, so she maintains that everything that happens is just part of an elaborate dream she's having.
Disillusioned by the corruption that exists at the highest levels of the netherworld's government, Valvatorez builds a team and sets out to overthrow that government and usher in a new era of evil. Concerns about government corruption, labor exploitation, freedom of speech, and other weighty issues abound, but they're woven seamlessly into Disgaea 4's slyly humorous tale. The cutscenes are unimpressive, with character portraits that make the occasional dramatic gesture but mostly stand still. However, the writing sparkles throughout, and lively voice acting conveys the character's emotions even when the visuals don't.
Feel my wrath, Hi My Honey!
Redrawn, high-definition sprites make this the sharpest-looking Disgaea yet, but the series' style hasn't evolved at all, and this is still a visually simple game. However, what it lacks in technical prowess, it makes up for to some degree in charm. Although these battles involve vampires, werewolves, demons, and other denizens of the netherworld, cute designs make the action lighthearted and the characters endearing; it's a delight to see these little sprites perform elaborate attacks that appear to rend the fabric of space.
The core of Disgaea 4 is in the turn-based strategic battles that have defined the series. Viewing the action from an isometric perspective, you move your characters to tiles on the field of battle and strive to vanquish your enemies with physical attacks and magic. You need to consider your characters' movements carefully to maximize the amount of damage they can do on each turn. For instance, by placing teammates on adjacent tiles prior to an attack, you create the possibility for them to join forces and perform a more powerful team attack. You can exploit this system by maneuvering squad members into positions to maximize team attacks, then retracting their moves to have them act elsewhere, thus expanding your tactical possibilities.
These sprites may look harmless, but get a few of 'em together and they can really pack a wallop.