Disgaea 5 is a strategy RPG that made its way over from Japan on October 6 by Nippon Ichi Software America. Centering around the Overloard of Gorgeous Seraphina and the mysterious wanderer Killia, Disgea 5 is a classic Japanese RPG with many of the tropes and classic characters to go along with it. Along your journey you’ll meet a variety of intriguing figures that have their own agenda, and some that are just plain old fun. This, combined with the mix in the difficulty level, customization, and interesting story make Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance a fantastic entry in the Disgaea franchise as well as a wonderful gaming experience.
Disgaea 5 begins with Seraphina, one of the main protagonists of the game, taking on the “Lost”, which are Void Dark’s army, the central villain in the game. It is here that Seraphina meets Killia and we begin our journey into various Netherworlds to stop Void Dark, who is on a conquest to dominate the Netherworlds. While the story gets a bit more complex as the game goes on and while there are some twists and turns, it is generally what you would expect from a JRPG. There is a lot of foreshadowing and for a good portion of the game things are shrouded in mystery, but as the picture becomes clearer it actually becomes very rewarding. The story isn’t going to absolutely blow you away, but it is touching in its own right and enjoyable. It can be heavy when it needs to be, but there’s also a level of lightheartedness that help cheer up the mood in typical Japanese fashion.
Disgaea 5 is split up into 16 different chapters, all with roughly five maps per chapter. Each chapter takes place in a different part of the Netherworld, which the characters are trying to save from Void Dark and his army of Lost. The combat really shines here, and the customization of your team is key to victory, as many maps are not easy by any means. You have the ability to recruit members to your team by way of a recruiter in the central hub, and recruiting a character that is not only maxed out in level but also is a class that complements your existing team is pertinent. This is one of the features I enjoyed most in the game, and although you do pick up characters along the way and can both interrogate and bring over members of the Lost army to your side, building your own team via recruiting gives you choice and a level of customization as you further progress through the game. As far as turning your enemy into your ally, you can use the interrogation feature to get captured enemies to join your cause. It’s a really interesting system and works well.
The combat mechanics are also excellent. You can topple your characters on top of each other to throw them further distances (and if you do this with a Pinnie, one of the mini-penguins, they blow up and damage your enemy), target enemies with multiple characters and execute attacks in order to pull off combination attacks, and even have dual attacks with two characters. These all help take out enemies more quickly and efficiently. Each character can also enter Revenge Mode, which allows you to give critical hits whenever you do damage. If your character is an Overlord, it also allows your character to enter Overlord mode, which can be used once per battle. This can be a game changer in battles and is one of the newest and biggest features in the latest Disgaea title. For example, one character’s Overlord skill causes him to grow into a giant for three turns. This makes his attacks much stronger and changes the tide of battle in the player’s favor. I found this actually saved me a number of times from defeat. Squads are another new feature introduced in the game which give your characters additional perks. Some members of a squad begin a mission by becoming giant, while others gain the ability to interrogate prisoners back at the central hub. Structuring these squads can be very strategic and help immensely inside and outside of battle.
While the visuals are very old school, utilizing sprites and anime-inspired dialogue scenes, the game looks fantastic and the visuals fit the style of the game perfectly. The game doesn’t have jagged edges, the sprites are incredibly detailed, and looks amazing in high definition for what it is. While it may not stack up against a lot of the 3D-based RPGs that have been released in recent years, there’s a certain charm and endearment that goes along with this old-school style that harkens back to the days of the Super Nintendo. It works well for both the game and the genre.
While the audio in the game isn’t terrible, the English voice acting is very poor. Thankfully there is an option to listen to the Japanese audio, and everything is captioned, but if you don’t understand Japanese (I know a little) this may be a bit of a turn off to you. The battle music is fine, but some of the tunes are god awful, such as the piece that plays in the main hub of the game. It’s this imbalance that keeps the audio from reaching the heights that it should.
The game is rich with content and replayability. Aside from the quests that you can take on, there is also a post-game aspect to the title that opens up and gives you hours upon hours of additional gameplay. You can choose to reincarnate a character which will return them back to level one, but this will increase the player’s base stats. This is very helpful, especially as you progress through the game. You could easily spend hundreds of hours playing this game and not complete it, even reaching level 9999.
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is a classic Japanese strategy RPG that incorporates some unique features to set it apart from other strategy RPGs. The game is massive in scale and the level of customization gives the player so many options that at times it can be a bit overwhelming. While some of the audio is a little weak, that can be overlooked as the game itself has so many features and is incredibly endearing with its 2D visual style. Disgaea 5 is a must-have for any Disgaea or strategy RPG fan who is looking to quench their thirst and sink their teeth into a massive, ambitious, and sometimes difficult title.
Gamer Professionals would like to thank the team at Nippon Ichi Software for providing us with the review copy of Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance.