Review: Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness

All heaven is about to break loose

If you are a fan of strategy  RPGs or are just curious about trying them out, this is the game to ease you into the genre. While Disgaea 2 is not the first in the series it can stand on its own, fans of previous titles will be happy to see the characters once again but new players will not be lost. The game itself avoids becoming overly complicated, a trait somewhat common to tactical RPGS, and has enough extras to keep one entertained even if you want to step away from the main story for a moment. The game is filled with anime tropes but the characters are so charming it causes more of a smile than an eye roll.

Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness
Console: PS3
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
Release: October 8, 2013
MSRP: $49.99

Taking place after the events of 2003′s Disgaea: Hour of Darkness players control demon prince, Laharl, as he defends his claim to the title of Overlord of the Netherworld. As if running the Netherworld wasn’t enough, there are a number of demons that don’t respect you and therefore must be taught a lesson. From a demon idol and her fans, to a group of loyalists, to the previous Overlord, there are plenty of hilarious enemies ready to take on the demon prince and his group of friends. To make matters worse Celestia seems to be infiltrating the Netherworld and is resulting in some rather interesting side effects to the demons. Laharl has plenty of friends to help him take on those who would oppose him though, with fallen angels and demons players can choose from and create a wide range of allies.

Players need not worry about being confused if they haven’t played the previous titles because the characters do an excellent job of bringing the player up to speed.

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D2 is a grid based strategy RPG that utilizes varying levels on maps but the camera is easy to move and adjust. The game itself is a bit nostalgic with its characters being presented as sprites on the map and joy of joys there is a skip button for most aspects of this game. Don’t want to listen to the adorable banter between demons? Skip. Don’t want to watch the action for an attack? Skip. Even if you accidentally select the option for an explanation there is no need to spam the X button you can skip it (it may seem silly to be happy about this feature but there a few games that could really use it).

Something that Disgaea does particularly well is cater to what the player wants. Like with most SRPGs characters are restricted to a particular number of steps and actions per turn; however there are ways for characters to assist each other that rounds out the game nicely. For example, in battles where my enemies were just out of my reach I was able to use my weaker characters to pick up and throw my stronger ones into the thick of battle.

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What could be considered one of the best features is the ability to use monsters as mounts. Characters are able to use any monster class ally as a mount, the mounted character can still use attacks and special skills but the mount can move and take damage. This is just one of the examples of how character relationships are used in battle.

The Master and Apprentice system allows characters to learn from other characters; not just special skills (a fighter that can throw a punch and heal) but weapon master as well. This system allows players to further round out their party.

Another addition is this Demon Dojo which allows characters to train in specific traits and thus accelerating the growth rate of a single stat as the character levels.  All of these systems used together make customizing and leveling each character easier and more enjoyable.

If you ever wanted to try a strategy RPG start with this one.

Gameplay does start out a bit repetitive but as you progress through the levels Laharl and his friends gain new attacks (and thanks to the master/apprentice system its easy for characters to learn new skills); additionally, through character relationships and placement there is a wide variety of combination attacks which lead to bonuses at the end of each stage.

If somehow you find that there is not much to do you can also explore Item World (where characters go inside normal items and fight enemies in them in order to raise the level of the items) or call a Dark Assembly. The Dark Assembly deals with passing bills (this can be to upgrade weapons, characters or even enhance EXP) and while at face value that might not sound fun Disgaea even finds a way to make voting seem fun.  In order to have your bills passed you’ll need to persuade strong senators to side with you. This can be accomplished through bribery (with money OR  alcohol) or force. The bills that are passed can only help you and if nothing else the Dark assembly  and Item Worlds are fun additions to the overall game.

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Score: 7.5/10- Review Scale

Overall this game enjoyable, easily recommendable to fans of the series or genre and even those who just want to try a strategy RPG for the first time. There are dozens of characters to choose from when building your party and plenty to do once the story line is done. My largest complaint about the game is at times it can become a bit tiresome when needing to level up new characters, and that there are times when one might be unable to clear a stage  resulting in a reset but these complaints were minimal and did not really detract from the overall enjoyment of the game.

The gameplay is challenging without being needlessly frustrating, and the overall storyline is humorous  enough to keep you interested through the hours you will devote to this game. In the grand tradition of RPGs this game is long, you definitely get your moneys worth in terms of gameplay and length; even if you finish the story line (roughly 40 hours alone) there is still so much more to explore and with the addition of the Demon Dojo and Master/Apprenticeship system one could easily spend hours creating a “perfect character”. However, even with the addition of these systems there is nothing really ground breaking in this game.

  Most importantly Disgaea is fun. Whether I was battling through the Netherworld or attempting to pass a bill in Dark Assembly this game will made me wonder where the hours in my day went but in the end I didn’t mind at all.

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