Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance Review-in-Progress

Dood, playing this tactical RPG is more fun than shredding a tubular barrel at sunset.

I may be new to the Disgaea franchise, but I've been playing tactical RPGs for many years. Not only do I enjoy the challenge of customizing characters and strategically moving them around on battle screens, but I also appreciate the turn-based mechanic that offers time to think about each move. After clocking in over 30 hours of gameplay, my preliminary assessment is that Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is by far the best tactical RPG I've ever played. However, I'm still only around 1/3 of the way through this massive game; hence, this review-in-progress.

All players have to do is read the game title to figure out the plot, which follows the cliché “build an army of allies to fight the super evil guy” storyline. Fortunately, nearly every character has a quirky personality, and this makes the story more interesting and also adds a bit of oddball animé-style humor. The main character, Killia, is a brooding hero with a dark secret, while his main cohort Seraphina is the annoying and uber-materialistic Princess Overlord of Gorgeous. Another funny sidekick is the muscle-headed Red Magnus, who always wants to rush in and prove how strong he is, just like a high-school football player. Having said that, most of the storyboards go on entirely too long, and I think the game would benefit from less character interaction.

It's weird that every character in the game (heroes included) is either a demon or a monster. All of the protagonists and antagonists look human, while the monsters are the only ones that actually look demonic. In fact, there's even a winged monster that looks exactly like a traditional demon. While some of the demon heroes are neutral, most of them follow a moral code that isn't even slightly evil. On top of that, Prinnies are a race of penguins that speak in surfer lingo, but they're classified as monsters. What's up with that, dood?

One thing that stands out about this title is the incredible amount of content that it offers. Sure, the main missions and character customization are extremely in-depth, but it also seems like I find new content around every corner. And this content isn't just a bare-minimum effort to add a few minutes of extra game time. For example, it's possible to improve items by entering the “Item World” and playing through a seemingly endless amount of randomly-generated levels. When players fight through enough of these levels, they're offered the opportunity to focus this item path in a wide variety of ways such as item improvement or monetary acquisition.

Other unnecessary but appreciated options include side missions with useful rewards, sending teams on missions to unlock new areas, a character-improvement mini-game, interrogating prisoners, improving special moves and spells, buying and/or making ramen noodle buffs, experimenting with enchantments (called innocents), and addressing/bribing a political assembly to vote on various improvements. Whew!

Thanks to the addition of several cool mechanics and gameplay features, Disgaea 5 is one of the most user-friendly tactical RPGs on the market. For starters, it's cool to capture enemies and have them join my team. In addition, I love the toss ability that lets characters pick up teammates and toss them around each battle map. This adds a seriously useful strategic element as I can increase a character's movement range or toss them to safety. It's even possible to pick up enemies and toss them around.



Better yet, the thing I like most about the game is how characters have a movement range that is very forgiving. Instead of having every single step take away from the distance a character can move, each character can move freely within their movement range. As long as an attack hasn't been initiated, it's even possible to cancel a movement, return to the original position for that turn, and move again. This lets me experiment with moves before I commit.

 

It's also cool how my characters emerge from a portal on each battle map, which means I don't have to place each one on the map myself. This also lets me return damaged or useless characters to the portal and pull new ones out. Eventually, players obtain the ability to utilize the portal to activate items, which is a handy bonus. Another useful feature is the incorporation of colored tiles that offer various buffs. I like how these tiles can be transformed into different colors to help allies or hinder enemies, and they can even be destroyed altogether. There are literally so many features to this game that I sometimes forget about some of them while in-game.

As mentioned before, I've only cracked the incredible depth of Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance. There is still much more content to explore, so stay tuned for a useful tip guide and a final review in the next couple of weeks.