I’ve never touched a title in the Disgaea series; however I’ve always heard the name positively floating around the gaming community. After Final Fantasy 13, I’ve really been craving to get my hands on a real Japanese role-playing title that doesn’t forget its roots, and also doesn’t compromise its integrity to mimic its western counterparts. Does Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten remind us why the genre is great, or is it just another cheap cash in? Hit the break for our verdict.
It’s really difficult to find any faults with Disgaea 4. It’s quirky, extremely well polished, and fun. The story centers on a vampire Prinny instructor named Lord Valvatorez and his werewolf assistant, Fenrich. During the final lecture Valvatorez promises one sardine for each of the Prinnies; however that promise quickly becomes in danger of being broken. The government issues a Prinny massacre before Valvatorez can make good on his promise. It’s an odd plot concept, but it fits remarkably well into the universe. It’s not a great story, however all the sarcasm, wit, quirkiness, and characters really help sell it. With all the seriousness and need for realism in the industry; Disgaea 4 sets itself apart in this regard.
Truth be told, it’s been a long time since I’ve played a grid-based role-playing title; which was Gladius. Disgaea 4 is nearly perfect from a gameplay standpoint, and is extremely flexible to different types of players. At first I was a bit timid about making moves; however it wasn’t long before I got into the flow of things and was making lighting fast moves. This is great because most of the time games don’t allow you to progress at different speeds. No matter how fast or slow I wanted to play, Disgaea 4 was more than accommodating. Obviously this is due to the fact that it’s turn-based, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the game molded itself based on my play-style. Being able to clearly see the battlefield is a necessity, and this brings up two issues which aren’t game-breaking but annoying at times.
Despite the options to pivot the camera around, there was several situations where I just couldn’t get the ideal angle. Was it game-breaking? No, but slightly inconvenient; especially when I was trying to play at a faster speed. The other issue lies with the color coded blocks that either gives the enemy or you bonuses. Sometimes I couldn’t see exactly where my next move would go because things were colored the same. Again, not game-breaking, however it does make you pause for a second to make sure that’s the proper place you’d like to move/attack.
I absolutely adore the art style and graphics. The backdrops are gorgeous and despite the limited animations when it comes to story-telling, there’s more than enough even for the hardcore players when it comes to battles. There’s a ton of skills, spells and abilities to unlock and they are all animated beautifully. I was even impressed to see more than 1 look to weapons; something developers have been getting increasing lazy about. The sound design in general is very good. The voice acting is surprisingly good, and the music is absolutely fantastic. If I have one complaint it’s that sometimes it can become slightly repetitive since you will be visiting the same areas constantly. That is a minor gripe though.
As far content goes, Disgaea 4 has a ridiculous amount of content, and I absolutely love it. The really breathtaking thing is that it doesn’t come at the cost of quality. In titles like Fallout 3, you can tell where the title was neglected and some areas don’t exactly shine; however that’s not the case here. As a newcomer I’ve heard not everything is new, but in end it really doesn’t matter. With the obvious refinements in graphics and the tweaks/additions to gameplay, Nippon Ichi Software has crafted an exceptional role-playing experience.
Whether you a new-comer to the series (like myself), or well-versed in the universe of Disgaea, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan of the genre, it’s worth checking out because frankly it’s one of the best titles I’ve played in recent memory.
For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes.