Disgaea is the type of franchise that fans of the series can’t get enough of, while those who don’t know what the hell it is will probably never get into. The series has been running for a long time, almost seventeen years to be precise, and over the course of countless remakes and ports, Disgaea 4 Complete+ finally makes its way to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
This is the third release of Disgaea 4. It was initially released for PlayStation 3 back in 2011, and then a PlayStation Vita release followed in 2014. I preferred playing the franchise on Vita, and thought that the games not only looked better on Sony’s doomed handheld, but also played better because you could play them at your own pace on the go. After playing through Disgaea 1 Complete on Nintendo Switch, I opted to check out Disgaea 4 Complete+ for the opposite platform, but it is available on Nintendo Switch as well.
As is usual with the franchise, Disgaea 4 takes place in the Netherworld. After promising a woman that he would not drink blood until he could scare her, vampire Valvatorez works in Hades. He couldn’t scare her before she died, so he is now relegated to working in the lowest point in the Netherworld. Hades is where all human souls are turned into Prinnies, and after ordering the deaths of all Prinnies by the government, Valvoterz plans a rebellion to stop the destruction.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ is time consuming and is really more of a commitment than anything. Don’t go into this expecting to be able to quickly work your way through the story and be done with it. Instead, it’s a slow and careful journey through different parts of the Netherworld, and often becomes too complex for its own good.
The Disgaea formula hasn’t changed much over the years, instead opting to just add on new gameplay mechanics and intricate level grinds. My biggest problem isn’t that the game is too difficult to understand or progress in, it’s that there is literally too much to do. I’ve been working on my playthrough for the last three weeks, and between work and life, I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface (for the third time).
For the uninitiated, battles take place on a grid based stage, much like Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem. Players use their turn to maneuver characters around the stage strategically to take down monsters. There are far too many intricate mechanics that get uncovered throughout the course of the game to cover them all. However, the way that Disgaea 4 Complete+ keeps players engaged throughout each stage to really process and think about the way they take on a level matters.
This is a game of chess, in every sense of the word, and destroying objects to alter the flow of battle, or throwing characters to reach unobtainable locations is all present here, as are the absolutely massive chain attacks that see players unleash a barrage of attacks on unsuspecting enemies. Disgaea 4 isn’t too difficult of a game, but it is a challenging one, and one that will keep players on their toes through each and every encounter.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ has more vibrancy than any iteration before it. Colors are vivid, sprites are crisp, and the effects that fill up the screen from devastating attacks are incredibly flashy. Exploring the hub world benefits from the extra resolution that the PlayStation 4 can provide, even if it isn’t super detailed and everything is hand drawn. Much like how anime Blu-Rays obviously look superior, Disgaea 4 benefits from the extra vibrancy that the console can provide.
I just wish that over the years, the environments and stages would receive some sort of evolution. The sprites and characters have all gotten better looking, why shouldn’t the rest of the world? No, it isn’t the main focus, most players are here for the grind, but it would be more pleasant to look at during battle stages.
In between stages players can still enter the Item World, a returning mechanic from previous games. Here, gear and equipment players earn can level up by navigating stages and defeating stronger monsters than they’ll encounter across the story. When Disgaea 4 initially launched, it was already a big game. One that dedicated players could easily spend over 100 hours in. The quality of life updates that Disgaea 4 Complete+ has received since the launch of Disgaea 5 really help elevate it from that original launch.
All previously released DLC is now included, as well as all new inclusions from the PlayStation Vita release. This is easily the best way to play Disgaea 4, and the most inclusive release. Other than the grind, the thing about Disgaea that most likely keeps bringing players back are the wonderfully dark and witty characters. The case is the epitome of “anti-heroes”, and they never let you forget that. Characters have a wonderful banter between each other, and usually employ dark humor to bring themselves to life. It’s a nice change of pace from the traditional heroes of RPG’s.
It almost feels like beating a dead horse writing reviews for the Disgaea franchise. With the amount of re-releases and ports the franchise has seen, if you haven’t played any of the titles before, you probably won’t start now. However, if you like anime, turn based strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics, and are looking for a new game to scratch that “niche title” itch, Disgaea 4 Complete+ is for you. It doesn’t reinvent what made Disgaea 4 or the franchise in general so special, but it will give players a ton of content for their buck. For someone like me, who hadn’t played Disgaea 4 in about five years, it was still well worth revisiting.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ launches October 29th for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. This review is based on a PS4 copy of the game provided by the publisher. Preorders are still available here.
Disgaea 4 Complete+
- Sooooo much to do.
- Almost intimidatingly complex.
- Eases players into a lot of the more complex components.
- Great interactions between characters.
- Not much has changed.
- Almost to the point of Resident Evil 4 re-release complexes.