Still a strategic good time.
DISGAEA 5 COMPLETE ON NINTENDO SWITCH
Disgaea 5 is as good as ever on Nintendo Switch. The only major change is the packed in DLC, which doesn’t add much to the overall experience, but it’s still a fantastic strategy RPG. The characters, gameplay, and story still hold up incredibly well two years after the launch of the original game.
Disgaea 5 is still a game about revenge. Killia, Seraphina, and the rest of the motley cast of characters each seek to enact their revenge on the Demon Lord Void Dark. This singular goal takes them through dozens of stages and pits them against hordes of enemies known as the Lost.
It’s a fairly simple narrative that shines, thanks to the boisterous and animated cast. Killia has his fair share of skeletons in his closet, preferring to work alone, while Seraphina simply wants all men to bow down to her. Not every member of the group has a particularly good reason for wanting to dethrone Void Dark, but the dialogue is interesting and has a unique charm about it.
The story is largely told through still cut-outs and dialogue boxes. It doesn’t make for the flashiest campaign but it manages to keep a consistent pace so you never grow bored.
The meat of Disgaea 5 lies in its combat. The game, at its core, is a turn-based strategy RPG. You’ll begin each battle by placing your troops on the battlefield. Each turn, you can move your combatants, order them to attack, and formulate strategies to maximize damage output.
Combat itself isn’t too difficult but in its opening moments, Disgaea 5 inundates you with information. While moving and attacking is simple enough, in order to bore through your enemies you need to take advantage of more advanced techniques, and there is plenty to learn.
There are various demon classes that all specialize in specific combat scenarios, much like other RPGs, but the monster class, which includes the iconic Prinnies, acts slightly differently. This mostly comes into play with lifting and throwing, which becomes an incredibly important tactic early on. Any demon can lift another character and throw them, allowing them to cover more distance in a turn. Lifting another character counts as all of that character’s actions for a turn, but it makes navigating a battle much more fluid.You also need to watch out for Geo-Panels, which offer special effects to players depending on what color the ground is. And that’s only scratching the surface of what is possible in a standard battle.
The pocket Netherworld that serves as your team’s home base also boasts a lot of shops and services that aren’t always self-explanatory, and the game throws all of this information at you incredibly quickly. It can be overwhelming, especially to those new to the series.
There are plenty of tutorials to break things down further but it’s easy to get a bit lost in the early hours. Once you get a hang of things, it’s easy sailing. Disgaea 5 isn’t always the most straightforward with its objectives outside of combat, but that’s often because the entire game centers around outfitting your team and heading to the next stage. There are side quests to do but most of them involve reaching a certain level with a specific class or wiping out five of a particular enemy. All of them can be done while following the story progression, so there’s never much reason to stray from the main narrative.
This linearity and focus helps the game feel brisk and fast-paced. Even if nothing memorable story-wise happens before an altercation, you are left with the knowledge that you’ll be able to jump right back into combat for a brand new challenge. The only problem is that, because the gameplay hinges on team building, skill management, and strategic combat, if none of that sounds like music to your ears, Disgaea 5 may not have much to offer you.
The story is intriguing and the characters are fun and well-written, but everything is tightly wrapped around combat that is the main driving force of the game. The good news is that despite being overly complex at first, the combat is incredibly fun to get into. There is a lot of depth to learn and outfitting your team becomes a personal experience once you’re over 20 hours into the game.
The only major Edition to Disgaea 5 Complete addition is a series of scenarios, characters, and weapons from the previous games. It gives the player more to do and has plenty of nostalgia for long-time fans. Packaged in with this DLC, however, is also 1 Million HL, which is the in-game currency. Getting this lump sum of cash at the beginning of the game throws off the progression immediately, making it much easier to hire new allies and buy the best gear for everyone on your team. In short, it makes the game itself easier.
The portability of the Switch also works in the game’s favor. Each battle is short enough that the game works wonderfully as a portable title and still looks great when you hook the system up to a TV.
Disgaea 5 Complete is a fantastic strategy RPG with plenty of deep systems to learn and an engrossing cast of characters that help drive the fairly simple narrative along. Its combat is by far its strongest element, and thankfully it’s also the part of the game that receives the most attention.
Score: 3.5/5 – FAIR