Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: October 06, 2015
Price: $59.99 US – Available Here $79.95 AUS – Available Here
After debuting in 2003 the Disgaea series has remained one of the most prominent strategy RPGs in the gaming industry, where many titles of the same caliber have fallen by the wayside. As such it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that after three successful releases on the PlayStation 3 that Nippon Ichi Software would take a stab at the PlayStation 4 with their next core release in the form of Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance. So now with Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance released in the West, has the series made a successful transition here?
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that, with a name such as Alliance of Vengeance, that the primary plot point for this series happens to be one of revenge. Although there are countless Netherworlds populated by various demons and Overlords with tremendous strength a powerful enemy named Void Dark has risen above practically everyone else and with his army of Lost and devoted generals he has been steadily laying waste to every netherworld that he comes across.
Those who do not submit to Void Dark’s rule are eliminated or, if they do submit, become members of his army as they continue to spread throughout the Netherworlds, conquering well over half of the known Netherworlds by the time the player starts the game. With such a devastating force a number of rebels are still trying to make a stand and it all begins with the main protagonist Killia, a self-described wanderer, arriving at a battle between Seraphina, the Overlord of the Gorgeous Netherworld, making a stand against some of the Lost forces.
After witnessing Killia single handedly defeat a group of Lost that Seraphina and her Prinnies were struggling with, Seraphina brings him into her Pocket Netherworld in an effort to turn him into her servant. Despite not falling for her wiles, Killia begins to work with Seraphina and her forces as she seeks to take down Void Dark for her own reasons. As the pair begins to gather strength and fight through the enemy they begin to meet other Netherworld Overlords who are seeking vengeance against Void Dark for their own reasons who take up the fight with Killia in order to bring down the tyrant.
Considering the nature of Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance’s plot is focused around vengeance, with some characters seeking revenge for the murder of their families and others simply due to the loss of comfort, this does mean that some of the goofiness inherently found in the plot is a bit lackluster this time around, but this is primarily due to the main character being far less charismatic and more one note than any past protagonist. Not only are Killia’s reasons for fighting a bit too similar to a few elements that arose during Disgaea 4 but his mannerisms and subtle personality do leave much to be desired, even with his backstory, compared to what the series is known for.
Thankfully the rest of the main cast more than makes up for Killia’s humdrum nature as the rest of the demons, with Seraphina and Usalia being the best of the bunch, that join the team being outstanding characters with plenty of unique quirks and interactions that provide plenty of the off-brand humor that Disgaea is known for while also delivering appealing storylines that weave into the main narrative in a manner that is surprisingly emotional at times.
For the most part Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance plays in a manner that fans of Disgaea will be more than familiar with as combat is still set on a battlefield where characters must move around gridded tiles that can have various traps, geo effects that can provide bonuses or penalties, or simply be filled with obstacles that they will have to navigate or jump over to reach their enemy and dispatching them before all of their own units are defeated in turn based combat where the player can queue up their own character actions however they wish before executing long combo attacks that can even feature special combination attacks if two characters are close together before ending their turn and letting the enemy move and retaliate.
One of the more prominent differences in combat this time around is a new Revenge gauge that fills up whenever a character takes damage, sees an ally damaged, or witnesses an ally being defeated on the battlefield. When filled the character will enter Revenge status where they will be given a large boost to their stats, be able to almost always inflict critical hits, use skills for a small amount of SP, and even trigger a unique Overload ability if they happen to be an Overlord character. This Revenge mode can be triggered by both allies and enemies, though defeating enemies in this status does provide players with an extra reward, since it is also possible to avoid an enemy due to the Revenge mode only being active for a limited number of turns.
A few other elements of combat have been streamlined while others have been removed. Players can now easily throw allies and enemies in a diagonal direction, choose to back-up the placement of their characters if they haven’t taken an action yet and aren’t in a fitting location, and a feature from Disgaea D2, mounting certain monster characters, has been removed entirely in favor of the simpler magichange system allowing monsters to be transformed into temporary weapons. Another change is the prominent showing of character resistances, with certain enemies being more resistant to certain weapon types as well as elements, meaning that some slimes for example can only be dealt major damage with an axe or magic rather than a gun or sword.
Outside of combat players will be spending plenty of time taking advantage of the various systems that are located around Seraphina’s Pocket Netherworld. There are numerous NPCs to interact with here, including those who sell items, weaponry and armor, allow players to create characters to join their roster through the available classes that they have unlocked so far, accept and turn in quests that range from simply killing a certain number of enemies to reaching a certain level with a certain class and more, and of course work their way through the Item World and Chara World in order to not only enhance their own equipment as well as boost the various stats and attributes for various characters, with the Chara World often offering various risks and rewards for continuing further through the board game like style that it has.
Of course players can also choose to fiddle around with a map editor, creating their own or downloading one submitted by another player, take part in the Interrogation Room where captured enemies can be either recruited or used to enhance the abilities of your own party members. Along the lines of strengthening your party, players can now make use of a Squad Shop system where characters can be assigned to different squads, all of which have certain perks that are given to characters in this squad and usually offer unique bonuses that make the grind through the levels a bit easier.
There is in fact so much to do outside of basic combat that players may find it a bit overwhelming at times since Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance simply has so much to offer, with players even being able to send out a Nether Research Squad to obtain various items, including rare equipment, and level up various units that they don’t often bring into battle. With features such as a Cheat Shop to adjust certain rates of drops, a Curry Shop to provide temporary boosts for the next battle, and a plethora of new demon and monster classes to take advantage of this is a Disgaea game right down to the fact that players can easily sink over a hundred hours into the game if they wish to as there is plenty of fresh new content to enjoy here.
Although Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance has taken the jump up to the PlayStation 4 it really hasn’t done an amazing job at providing a significant graphical boost to the series although it is still as vibrant and colorful as ever and features more active characters on screen than ever before. Those who are familiar with the series’ past iterations will recognize that certain class sprites still feature the same appearance as before though the majority of the classes have been cleaned up and have a number of new animations to go along with them. This includes a number of new special skills that can be used by certain classes looking spectacular while the main characters have plenty of flashy techniques and combo attacks.
The main character sprites are far more refined than the rest of the generic cast however as most of them have plenty of unique animations allowing for plenty of variety and a nice combination of HD sprite-work with the dialogue. The various dialogue sequences that are displayed primarily through visual novel format have also been refined with highly detailed character portraits with plenty of variety to their poses and expression allowing for plenty of visual gags to go alongside the usually humorous dialogue.
NIS America’s release of Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance features both the original Japanese voice track as well as a freshly recorded English dub for those who wish to enjoy the series to the fullest. Nearly all of the dialogue in the game is voiced in English and, with the exception of Usalia’s verbal tic sounding odd in English rather than being kept the same, all of the English voice actors and actresses have handled their roles incredibly well as they inject plenty of emotion into scenes that need it and make funny sequences even better.
The soundtrack in this title features a range of impressive sounding background tracks that usually play during battle and a number of great idle tracks that will play while the player spends time in the Pocket Netherworld, with most of the music featuring lyrics to keep them from sounding repetitive.
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance may seem like a daunting experience for those who may be stepping into the strategy RPG pool for the first time but by making certain mechanics a bit easier and offering a slow enough starting pace players will quickly find themselves sinking hour after hour into one of the best strategy RPGs you can ask for. Rarely can one find so much content in one package and Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance delivers that and more making it an incredibly worthwhile title to add to your PlayStation 4 library and a great showing of what the series is still capable of over a decade later.
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