The arrival of Disgaea 5 on Nintendo's new hybrid device is, intentional or not, exceedingly well-timed. That's because Switch is the one Nintendo console lacking a compelling strategy RPG experience, no thanks to the release of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia for the waning 3DS exclusively. If you played Disgaea 5 on PS4 the Switch version may not be enough to draw you back in, but if you tend to own Nintendo hardware alone and can’t be bothered to dig out the 3DS (or simply don't prefer Fire Emblem), Disgaea 5 Complete offers a wildly compelling and unique experience in its own right. With the Complete edition you get all of the previous DLC's fresh scenarios to unwrap, further sweetening the deal.
A Tale of Revenge
Disgaea’s cast of characters tends to outshine its plot, and as such it isn’t too surprising that narrative here consists of a ragtag, diverse, and sometimes painfully endearing bunch of hero-misfits, all out for revenge against the same guy: Demon Lord Void Dark. It’s a fortuitous scenario, actually, because the good Demon Lord is the very foe largely responsible for the endless enemy hordes Disgaea 5’s cast finds itself up against throughout most of the game. If you didn’t already know, Disgaea is largely about its endless customization, management, and preparation of forces for battle, not to mention the planet-shattering maneuvers of devastation you'll shortly be unleashing upon the enemy. If that all sounds good to you then you’ll likely enjoy the game, Nintendo Switch or otherwise.
What we do get on Switch is a faithful reproduction of Disgaea 5 as you remember it, right down to its identical native resolution and graphical fidelity. This is fair considering the original’s home on admittedly more powerful hardware, and even gives Switch a slight edge when you decide to pull to console off of its TV dock. Say what you will about 2D art, but Disgaea 5 Complete looks simply brilliant miniaturized in the palms of your hands. As has been the case with many Switch titles from Zelda to Puyo Puyo, I found myself spending most of my time with its handheld functionality.
Nothing If Not Complete
I won’t perform a deep dive on the full extent of Disgaea 5’s inner workings here - we have a full review of the original for that, which I would encourage you to check out. Instead what’s important to get across is the value proposition NIS America brings to the table, and with an original game that cost a full $60 before peddling two, three, and four-dollar DLC packs to its buyers, the ability to score everything for the same initial ask is a genuinely fine offer. Like I said before, PS4 players will really need to love the game in order to double-dip, but for everyone else remotely interested in the series, Complete on Switch becomes something of a no-brainer.
With that said, there are some odd (but minor) growing pains worth mentioning, primarily a result of suddenly including every bit of content that used to be experienced via presumed progression. DLC packs are selected via NPC engagement, which used to make sense when purchases were required. Now that it’s all free, the notion of having to “enable” what’s already included comes off as a bit strange. Disgaea 5 Complete on Switch also includes a generous influx of in-game HL currency off the bat, an initial treat that quickly feels gratuitous for those familiar with the genre or the game. That said, these are all quips from the relative early hours of the experience; if your plan is to log 200 hours, then you aren’t going to remember nitpicks so far down the road anyway.
Ultimately Disgaea 5’s big strength regardless of platform is the attachment you develop toward both its cast and your ever-improving army, via its simply-presented plot dialogue and the ridiculous, damage-drenched combos you’ll eventually be churning out. Beyond the fact that the version of yourself holding the Switch 20 hours prior would probably not believe what later becomes possible, the connections formed via endless growth, progress, and familiarity with process is where the game really shines. If Fire Emblem’s support conversations are what spur gratuitous feelings of warmth for those games, then with Disgaea it’s the simple act of doing that achieves the same. With that said, I’ll happily acknowledge the pleasant camp of its dialogue is, in its own right, thoroughly entertaining.
There are really only a few reasons not to invest in Disgaea 5 Complete on Switch, but it’s important to know what they are. If you don’t like strategy RPGs, it isn’t going to sway you. And if you don’t have extensive amounts of time to play it, you’re unlikely to enjoy the game to its potential and as such might want to consider waiting. Of course, handheld mode helps with this.
With that established, there’s little doubt Complete is the definitive version of the game, with all of its DLC scenarios on Switch included and worth exploring. Handheld mode is what really seals the deal, in effect “improving” the game’s visual presentation and exposing Disgaea 5, of all things, as far more pickup-and-play-friendly than anybody probably ever expected.