Yes, that’s right, you’ve seen the score before reading the review, haven’t you? And now you’re wondering why Disgaea 4 on PS Vita is that good? Well, here’s why.
Disgaea was made for handheld
Even though all the Disgaea games were first released on console, the handheld version were always the better ones. I played Disgaea 1 and 2 on PS2 when they came out, but they never clicked with me. They were fun, but way too time consuming and especially limiting. It felt like a real commitment if you can’t save or put the system in sleep mode to go in to the Item World for instance. And that’s where it shines on handheld, since these are games which need a lot of time investment and it shines in small increments, which easily add up to over hundreds of hours a piece. I would even consider the crappy Disgaea DS, a demake of the first Disgaea for PS2, a better game than the original, only due to the freedom to put it down at any moment and continue later. I have put over 300 hours into Disgaea 1, 2 and 3, but all on portable systems. I even bought my PS Vita for Disgaea 3, so you can imagine how delighted I was when Disgaea 4 A Promised Unforgotten got announced to come to the PlayStation Vita, but this time as A Promise Revisited.
A Promise Revisited cq GOTY edition
A Promise Revisited is just like Disgaea 1 & 2 on PSP and Disgaea 3 on PS Vita a GOTY or complete edition. It has all the downloadable content from the PS3 available, but in Disgaea style, you will first have to unlock it. Disgaea makes nothing easy, but does let you cheat the system in a lot of ways, which makes it the king of strategy RPG”s. Disgaea 4 has a lot of mechanics, which you will never detect all in your first 20 hours with the game. Just like all the Disgaea’s before it. What is really cool in 4, is that they even embraced it so much that they created a Cheat shop in the main hub of the game. This hub is after the hub of Disgaea 1 the most practicle in all the Disgaea games. Especially after the complicated hub of Disgaea 3, is this a breath of fresh air. Everything is very easily laid out and very accessible. I would have liked it a little bit tighter, so navigating the different sections would go faster, but due to the speed of the main character it is still quick enough to go around to the shops, item world and campaign menu.
Yeah, a campaign menu. This time around, you are on a campaign to become president of the netherworld. It all starts with a promise made to the prinnies (penguin like creatures which say d00d a lot and are completely useless in battle), but spins out of control very fast. The story never gets as insane as in Disgaea 1 or as emotional as Disgaea 2, but is interesting enough to carry the game. Some characters from the older games make their appearance, like everyone’s favourite person to dislike Axel. The campaign menu also lets you create different buildings, which make life a lot easier in the netherworld.
Disgaea’s grind is one of the key features of the game. In all honesty, it is the game. You’re grinding away to unlock new ability’s, new characters, new arena’s, boost your skills and get new gear. You will have to grind for everything. They made this extra enjoyable in Disgaea 4, almost right from the start you get the access to a share experience building which makes sure you don’t have to go back to the first levels to gain levels with your newly created characters. Creating characters is one of the coolest gameplay elements of Disgaea. If you have enough mana you can create a ‘stock’ character (main characters can’t be created). If you level these stock characters up, you unlock new and stronger versions of that character. These newer version have to be created from scratch again, so all the abilities in which you have invested don’t get transferred (unless you reincarnate, but that’s a whole different and more complicated story and is mostly part of the endgame). Once your characters reach a certain level (usually 2 different classes), you unlock new classes. This helps you see the whole roster of stock characters, since that awesome ninja character is stuck behind a wall which is called a (boring) thief. You can easily get lost in just getting access to all the stock characters and forgetting all about the story.
Disgaea 4 looks awesome on the PlayStation Vita, for a Disgaea game. The visuals are very functional, but aren’t anything special if you look at them objectively. They have improved a bit over the third installment, but one of the most annoying limitations of that game has stayed, which is the inability to change the camera while watching you actions. Due to the different terrain in the stages, it will happen more than once that a wall or tower is blocking your view of the action. That action is really fun to watch, but if you do want to get far in the game on a faster pace, you can turn of all of the attack animations. Nippon Ichi knows its audience very well and even included the option to only turn of the animations of the enemies or your own team. When a cinematic action is used for the very first time you’re playing the game, it will show it, even if the animations are turned off. This ensures you don’t miss any of the cool animations, while not wasting a bunch of time.
A Promise Revisited sports a English and Japanese voice track. Both are fine, but didn’t pop out to me as amazing or anything. They do their job, with only a couple of annoying voices on both languages. I did get used to them pretty fast and they stopped being bothersome fairly quickly. In all honesty, Disgaea isn’t the kind of game you should buy for the great acting or amazing voice cast. You get it for the gameplay.
Playing Disgaea 4
Disgaea 4 is a strategy role playing game of the purest caliber. In all you do is strategy involved and the game doesn’t take it easy on you. If you move in a normal pace through the game, you will find quite a lot of opposition in the game. You will need to be smart about all your moves on the board and know how to exploit all the game mechanics. Disgaea wants you to cheat, wants you to take advantage of all its systems. For instance, when you move your character next to another and let that character attack, it might trigger a combo between the two. After this is executed, you can just move the first character back to where it came from or to another place on the map. This got improved over earlier games, since now after you move a character you don’t need to move it back to where it came from in order to change its trajectory, you can now do this right away. This might seem like a small feat, but turns out to be a great timesaver. Another nice exploit is that when you defeat level 99 enemies, you will gain experience as if they are level 300. And Disgaea really makes you appreciate all the time savers, since this is a game in which you can easily put in 100 to 200 hours. And the game will still be wanting to offer you more after that. The endgame is probably one of the best available. After you beat the story of the game, the real game is only just beginning. In this endgame you will be ranking up levels like it’s nothing. Some people call this part post-game, but since it’s such a huge part of the experience, I prefer to call it the endgame.
Must have, aye!
Disgaea 4 is an improvement on Disgaea 3 in almost every way. It looks better, plays better and offers even more content. The game can easily keep you busy until the end of this autumn, even if you play it on a daily basis. A Promise Revisited feels right at home on the PS Vita and I sure hope to see Disgaea D2 sooner rather than later. Disgaea 4 is a must buy for anyone into RPG’s, it's outrageously fun and by far the best in its genre.