Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Switch, PC
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $59.99 USD – Available Here $89.95 AUD – Available Here
Nippon Ichi is known for their Disgaea series and their unique take on various smaller RPGs that have their unique quirks to them. This remained true even as the company released Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny and went against what many fans of the franchise were used to by not only shifting the art style but also simplifying various elements, introducing auto-battles, and much more much to fan chagrin. Despite a less than stellar reception, Nippon Ichi managed to keep the boat afloat and bring out another new Disgaea, this time looking to right the various wrongs with Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless looking to capture the same classic feel of the franchise but were they successful?
Unlike most Netherworlds, a small cluster called Hinomoto themed around Edo era Japan has long valued honor and the bushido code despite the demons that reside within it. As such, the rich otaku Pirilika who is enamored with the famous bushido code of Hinomoto visits the realms in an attempt to bask in their glory. Much to her dismay, the Netherworld has long since fallen into disarray with its tourist attractions selling bogus goods and famed samurai warriors being no more than common thugs. One such thug she runs into happens to be a money-grubbing samurai named Fuji who knows exactly why Hinomoto has fallen from its previously honorable ways and is willing to help Pirilika, for a price. Unfortunately for Fuji though, this contract has far more strings attached to it than simply saving a damsel in distress as Fuji soon finds himself working alongside Pirilika to gather the Seven Founding Weapons of the realm and overthrow the Shogunate that has corrupted it.
In many ways Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless feels like a return to form with its handling of its storyline and characters as everything is as foolish and lighthearted as they come. Fuji for example is a demon that is so averse to kindness that any attempt to thank him results in him spitting up blood and even healing him in combat makes him cry out in pain or Pirilika’s penchant for misconstruing famous sayings in her excitement for her favorite things. These little running gags are constant throughout the game and grow ever more prominent and enjoyable the more players progress and add more characters to the colorful cast that makes up the named roster in Disgaea 7. These allies are far more enjoyable than those found in the previous game, even if a couple more enjoyable ones are oddly left as post-game only characters.This eclectic cast of characters only heightens the silly and enjoyable storyline that persists throughout Disgaea 7, and even when things do get a bit serious and focus on the actual plot, what is told here remains a highly entertaining story arc that feels right at home in the Disgaea franchise.
Throughout its numerous releases the Disgaea series remains as true to the traditional turn-based SRPG formula as ever and that remains true in Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless. Players will be able to bring forth up to ten characters in a stage, each moving individually and attacking individually either through standard attacks, skills, or spells, and each unit having their own movement and special attacks depending on their class and equipment. Players can once again pick and throw allies and enemies to move them further along or potentially adjust the various Geo Panels on the floor to their advantage or to blow up a Prinny for massive damage and even monster units can make use of Mon-Toss once again to throw targets. Geo Panels, as mentioned earlier, are color coded areas on a map that can provide stat buffs and debuffs to those standing on them and can even be destroyed to deal damage to any unit on the field. The various minute navigations of moving ally units around to best take advantage of various attack strings while avoiding counter attacks remains as intuitive as ever, albeit a bit on the slow side as the game doesn’t allow for quick-swapping between non-used units.
While nearly all of these elements remain fairly standard for the Disgaea series, the previous game also saw the simplification of numerous character classes and thankfully that is no longer the case here. Now Disgaea 7 offers over forty total classes for players to experiment with as it mixes together standard humanoid classes and monster classes, including the brand new Maiko, Zombie Maiden, and Big Eye classes. While it is true that a lot of these classes are simply the male or female version of others that were previously removed, it is nice to see this level of customization and depth added back into the game. Players can now effectively create the party of their dreams while taking advantage of various elemental and stat building mechanics to best round out their party for standard encounters and test their mettle against the far more difficult challenging fights found within the optional content of the item-world and post-game content.
Yes, as usual the item world returns with players being able to venture into the randomized worlds of their own equipment to power up their gear using brand new and enhanced Innocents to make things as strong as possible. Sure, these types of elements are mostly optional but are also perfect examples of testing out what the player’s party is capable of and how far they can really break the in-game mechanics, especially since Disgaea 7 returns to the classic style of combat and damage dealing, no longer rewarding massive damage for simple attacks. This time around players will need to train to hit those insane numbers. Things such as the Evil Assembly to reset a character to level 1 while retaining their stats and numerous other elements allow players a constant ability to grind and power up their favorite fighters in new and unique ways that feels quite rewarding and right at home for the franchise, and of course if these more in-depth mechanics happen to feel a bit too overwhelming it is worth noting that nearly all of the core story content doesn’t require this level of depth.
Alongside these various returning elements and layers of depth a few new mechanics have also been included in Disgaea 7 as well and these come in the form of Jumbification and Hell Mode. Hell Mode is simpler to explain as story characters, as players progress through the game, will obtain special weapons that allow them to enter a powered up state for a limited time that boosts their stats and allows them to unleash a devastating finishing move only available in that mode. Entering Hell Mode requires a gauge to be filled up from dealing and receiving damage and the same can be said for the Jumbification mode as well. This mechanic allows players to Jumbify a character of their choosing and make them larger than the entire battlefield, giving them the ability to perform insanely powerful map-sweeping attacks, insane healing abilities, and other powerful battle-changing skills. It is worth noting that players aren’t the only ones capable of Jumbifying as enemies can also do this, meaning players who can’t counter attack with their own unit may find themselves facing a devastating loss if they aren’t careful. Both of these elements are neat little additions and can really make players feel powerful, especially in some rather ridiculous ways as some characters’ Jumbification abilities are as silly as they come.
Now, it is worth noting that Demonic Intelligence, the AI battle auto-battle system that was heavily utilized and emphasized back in Disgaea 6 has not been removed entirely but it has been given a significantly lesser focus. Rather than being something players are expected to use to grind or skip content, players can now only use auto-battles to complete levels they have already beaten normally and must use a “Poltergas” item to do so or test out their team in an automatic PVP system against other players online. This de-emphasis on auto-battling is something that was desperately needed while still making it something possible to a far lesser extent.
Audio & Visuals
Once again Disgeaa 7 makes use of 3D models as opposed to the lovingly detailed sprite work that used to make up the series for the original five games but things have gotten better this time around. Not only are these 3D models far more expressive when in combat compared to the previous game but the fact that there are far more classes and monster types to work with does wonders here. It is also nice to note that the various skills are as delightful as ever looking, including the Hell Mode abilities and some of the more ridiculous Jumbification skills, though it would be nice if there was still a bit more variety in stage design. The character artwork during the visual novel dialogue sequences is impressively detailed with most characters having a wide variety of expressions available.
Players will have the option to use either the original Japanese voice track or the freshly recorded English dub by NIS America with both voice tracks fitting the game well enough. That being said, given the game’s setting in a more feudal style of Japan, players may prefer the Japanese dub for a bit more authentic feeling experience. The soundtrack features a solid collection of background music fitting for the series and the theme that it is going for.
Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless feels like a proper return to form for a franchise that had temporarily lost its way. While it may not have returned to the classic sprite art style of the past that fans are used to, this new 3D style of design has started to blossom thanks to NIS putting effort into creating as many classes as possible while delivering the same ridiculous level of in-depth customization and sub-options as possible. Combine this with a humorous story that fits right alongside some of the best in the franchise and some fun new mechanics and Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless is everything a Disgaea fan could ask for and certainly worth a shot for any SPRG fan.
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