Disgaea 5 (PS4) Review

To sum Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance up quickly for those with short attention spans: EXPLODING! DEMON! PENGIUNS!

Game Name: Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
Platform(s): Playstation 4
Publisher(s): NIS America / Bandai Namco Entertainment Australia
Developer(s): Nippon Ichi Software
Release Date: 10/16/2015
Price: $59.99 (USD) / $79.95 (AUD)

If those three words made you stop and go “huh?” then you’re not alone. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is one of those games in which logic, sense and just about everything that makes your brain work goes right out the window in the opening moments of the game. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is the 5th title in the Disgaea series and the first for the series to appear on PlayStation 4.

It’s like watching Michael Bay produce an Anime

Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is like walking into an anime series halfway through with no way to watch the previous episodes… Seriously, it’s exactly like that. The game itself is separated into episodes, much like an anime series, complete with ‘Next Episode Previews’ presented by the games characters.

From what I understand, there’s a battle going on in the Netherworlds between Demon Emperor Void Dark and the other Netherworld Overlords, which ended in one day… Which is weird given the amount of time you’re going to spend in this game… Netherworld time is weird. There’s also this guy named Killia, who’s father was killed by Dark Void and he want REVENGE! This leads him to accidentally save another Netherworld Overlord named Seraphina, an annoying female demon who is obsessed with having men fall for her and being her slaves… Along with a race of Demon Penguins called Pennies. Seraphina was also promised to be married to Void Dark by her father, but she ran away and now wants to kick Void Dark’s butt; and she’s in love with Killia because she’s dumb as a brick and as annoying as one thousand Naga’s from Slayers (complete with that annoying but amazing “Ooooooh ho ho ho” side handed laugh). Together they travel through the Netherworlds and accumulate more Overlords who either want to destroy Void Dark and his army, The Lost, or just want to kick his ass because “reasons”. The more amusing of these is a Demon-Rabbit called Usalia who goes insane if she doesn’t get her curry.

All the characters you encounter have some very out there personalities which make the games long dialogue sequences amusing to sit through. Luckily the game has an automatic scroll setting so you don’t always have to sit there pressing X all the time to move things along. However, as I would with a lot of anime-style video games, I would turn the language setting in Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance to Japanese; for some reason it just makes things sound not only more natural, but less annoying to a degree. Speaking of annoying, the game’s soundtrack, while good in some places with well fitting themes, tends to drift into annoying J-Pop tracks in some areas that are rip your ears off irritating.

Serapina's laugh will haunt me in my nightmares for years to come
Serapina’s laugh will haunt me in my nightmares for years to come

Gameplay wise this is as stock standard as a RPG can get. You gain experience through beating the monster encounters through the campaigns and quests that you undertake. You augment this with armor and weapons that you can either buy from vendors or pick up through the game’s interesting bonus gauge system; this system builds as you do combo and special attacks with multiple players on the game board. By this, I mean that you can put out 4 units onto the battlefield at a time, move them around the game board in a set number of squares, attack the enemy in a set number of squares around your unit depending on if they are a melee type or ranged type, then execute the actions (For things like attacking, lifting/throwing friendly units) and rotating turns with the enemy. Think of it like playing on a D&D board to a degree, or Warhammer field.

And that’s about it for the gameplay. It’s extremely simple to learn through the 3 battle tutorials that you get, but putting it into practice is something else. You have to look at things like a game of chess. You have to make sure that your units are in the right spots before you execute your attacks, you also want to try and execute your attacks in a combo fashion which involves lining up your units in a specific formation near the enemy. It’s at this time that things get really weird. You’ll trigger combo animations that can go from simple attacks like 2 units attacking in an X pattern, to combining pennie units together with Seraphina to create a missile that Killia can ride into the enemy, or having a melee fighter unit pick up another character and use them as a club to smash the enemy to bits, or there’s the exploding demon penguin thing that makes me laugh everytime. For something that is a very simple formula gameplay wise, this adds in some great challenge when you have to THINK your way through a battle rather than just rushing in head first.

Unit placement is everything. It's like 3D chess
Unit placement is everything. It’s like 3D chess

Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is one of those games that usually I would stay away from, it’s a long grind-fest with dialogue sequences that would usually put me to sleep; however Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is engaging enough with it’s weird yet witty writing that I can sink hours into it and not notice that the time has passed (Nor that I had a draft of the review written up and didn’t publish it when I should have). I do have some issues with the soundtrack at times and the English dub being ear ripping bad to sit through, but all in all this is going to be a great game for not only RPG fans to get their hands on, but also people who like anime-style experiences to play through.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment Australia.

Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is one of those weird games that you kinda want to enjoy from the beginning. Starting with the 5th entry in the series makes me feel like I’ve missed a lot of story. However, the great anime look and amusing writing (combined with weird exploding demon pengiuns) makes this a good time sink none the less. It’s hard to recommend this as a must buy, but more as a buy when it goes on sale.