Disgaea first launched on Playstation 2 in 2003 and has seen many sequels follow it, becoming one of the more well-known tactics RPGs in recent years. The fifth entry in the main series saw release on PS4 two years ago and has made its return on the Switch as the second in the series to be released on a Nintendo system. Those who have played on PS4 will likely already be familiar with what is included in the Switch version, but those who haven’t given it a try will find that the Switch version offers a full experience with Disgaea 5 Complete.
The story begins by explaining that the Netherworlds are being taken over by the nefarious Void Dark with the help of his many demon minions. The mysterious wanderer Killia is busily trying to take him down when he runs into the Overlord Seraphina and rescues her from a group of demons. As a thank you, she forces him to join up with her and the two begin making their way through the Netherworlds while fighting back the demon soldiers. Along with other companions they meet along the way, they are tasked with building an army strong enough to face Void Dark and stop his reign of terror in the Netherworlds once and for all. While the story may come off as a bit predictable for an RPG, one of the more charming aspects of Disgaea is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Whether a villain or ally, every character has the time to mock one another and make jokes which makes every character incredibly likable. It never feels out of place either, with a cast full of demons it only seems appropriate that they’re constantly insulting and bickering with one another.
The basic gameplay of Disgaea is similar to many tactics titles, the player chooses the characters they wish to battle with and moves them around a grid while defeating enemies. Players can use the main cast of characters in addition to recruiting some outside help as well. Not only can classes like mage, fighter and cleric be recruited but the many monster enemies can join up to fight once they’ve been unlocked. Each class has their own strengths, weaknesses and various abilities that are available as they level up. The huge variety in classes is one of the most best features Disgaea offers, as a player’s strategy can drastically change depending on what kind of team they decide to go with. They can choose to take in strong attackers and tank their way through battle, or go in with a balanced team while taking their time to plan each move.
The Disgaea series typically offers over 100 hours of gameplay to anyone casually playing through the main story, but there are a lot of side activities to do as well for those wanting to take advantage of everything it has to offer. New features are periodically unlocked upon completing a chapter and will always inform players of when something is available for use. There is the Item World where players can level up the abilities of any item by fighting through a gauntlet of mini dungeons, if they’re lucky players will even find rare treasure and special areas not found anywhere else. There are also a vast amount of side quests players can complete for rewards, new recruit classes and even challenging missions. While most of these are entirely optional features, they add more challenging objectives for players to complete with great rewards that are always worth the effort of doing especially early on.
Like previous titles, Disgaea 5 Complete includes full voice acting during cutscenes which is extremely well done and enjoyable to listen to, as all the voice actors do a great job portraying their characters. Appearance-wise, this is an absolutely gorgeous title to look at. Each character model is animated to make them full of emotion based on the situation and every background is filled to the brim with details that really set the atmosphere of wherever the player is. For those who might prefer playing in handheld mode, the title remains just as great looking on the smaller screen as it does on the TV without sacrificing quality. The soundtrack also does an amazing job of setting the atmosphere at any point, from giving players an upbeat song to listen to while shopping to changing the battle theme when a character uses their special ability.
Disgaea is a title that typically requires a good amount of grinding, either for money or levels, which is no surprise considering the max level is 9999. This can feel a bit repetitive at time, especially early on with limited classes available, but it becomes extremely satisfying when going into the next fight with a well geared up team. Certain mechanics can come across as confusing or overwhelming for those who aren’t familiar, as many of the optional feature benefits that aren’t explained very clearly and may take a bit of experimentation to figure out how exactly to best utilize them. Some levels will also occasionally suffer from slowdown when on a crowded screen, but this is really only noticeable on the smaller maps when using all the available units at once.
While the Switch itself doesn’t have any sort of Trophy system, Disgaea 5 Complete includes its very own for this version. In similar fashion to PlayStation systems, when the player unlocks a trophy a small icon will pop up in the top left hand corner of the screen with the image and name of the challenge that was completed. Most of them are related to story progression, but many others include small challenges such as jumping a thousand times in the Pocket Netherworld or dishing out a certain amount of damage at once. These can be checked on at any time by talking to an NPC in the main hub so players can see which ones they have left to unlock. The trophies don’t count for anything outside of being a challenge for completionists, but are incredibly rewarding to see after pulling off a difficult objective.
Disgaea 5 Complete comes with a lighthearted story, enjoyable characters, all the DLC and gameplay full of different strategies for every player to try. It works amazingly well on the Switch, as it’s a perfect title to play in short bursts with handheld mode. Those who have already played on PS4 should only consider picking it up if they want to take advantage of playing it on the go, as aside from the DLC coming packaged with it, there isn’t much change between versions. For anyone interested in tactics titles or just looking to give the series a try, Disgaea 5 Complete is the perfect title to jump into.