Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is the newest installment in the Disgaea series of strategy RPGs by Nippon Ichi Software. Having never played a Disgaea game, let alone a strategy RPG before, I was not entirely sure what to expect. However, the characters and world looked interesting and colorful, so I was eager to jump in and start playing.
The game immediately thrusts you into the middle of a battlefield during a confrontation between the main characters and Demon Emperor Void Dark’s army of The Lost. The gameplay was initially easy for me to get into and learn, even without having any prior experience with tactical RPGs. The tutorials in the beginning are straightforward and explained well and it wasn’t long before I found myself tossing Prinnies left and right and clearing my first level, dood.
I enjoyed trying to get the longest chain of flashy combo attacks and experimenting with the game’s fusion skill system with different characters. I also liked the fact that skills improved and leveled up the more you used them in battle, and wish this was featured more often in other games.
Of course, the difficulty ramps up soon after the first few levels, forcing you to improve your tactics and refine your approach to each stage. As someone who is most familiar with faster-paced RPGs along the lines of Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, and Persona, this posed quite the challenge to me. At times battles in Disgaea 5 feel like a game of chess. You have to constantly gauge your position as well as your opponents’ and be mindful of any openings your enemies can take advantage of. You definitely cannot rush into a stage guns blazing with your prized strongest, most well-equipped characters at the forefront. Believe me. I tried. Your heart will drop faster than your character’s HP bar as you watch them get surrounded by a group of enemies and KO’d in the first turn.
Disgaea 5 at times can feel a bit grindy, especially as I progressed into more difficult and complex levels. One problem in particular that I encountered was, after recruiting so many different character classes, some would inevitably get neglected. The only solutions I could find to make these neglected characters viable again was to grind earlier stages over and over to level up, or spend HLs (the game’s currency) to recruit higher level, more powerful versions of that same character class.
On a more lighthearted note, I appreciated the game’s wacky sense of humor, from the quips and banter between the main characters, to even things as simple as the oftentimes hilarious weapon descriptions.
All in all, I feel Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance was a great introduction to strategy RPGs for me. Longtime fans familiar with the series will of course enjoy what the title has to offer, but I believe even people as new to the genre as I was would be able to find the game accessible and fun if they are willing to have a bit of patience and apply some prudent thinking.
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance will release for the PlayStation 4 in North America on October 6th and in Europe on October 16th, 2015.