Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness Review (PS3)
The Disgaea series, for those unaware,is a series of tactical turn based RPGs of grandiose scale. For those familiar and fond of the tactical RPG genre, the series is like an energetic, favoured pet that keeps coming back to show off all the new tricks it has learned since the last time you met. Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness doesn’t disappoint in it’s delivery of new tricks, in fact it might be the most impressive bag yet.
Gameplay wise D2 largely sticks to the old tried and tested turn based RPG formula. Allied units are spawned from a home base and moved one by one by the player until they’re happy with the placement, then attacks are made by these units on the player’s calling. Particularly tactically minded or patient players will achieve attack chains while those who put careful planning into unit allegiances will see large gains from combined attacks and the likes. There’s a lot of factors going on here to make it more than a simple game of chess, and that’s important because if you want to get absolutely everything you want out of Disgaea you’re going to be spending a lot of hours on it.
This is in reference to the likes of the item world and the land of carnage. Zones which are available during and after the extensive story respectively and are absolutely essential to the almost never ending character progression in pursuit of perfection, a fine and time consuming pursuit that calls to the type of gamer this series attracts. You know who you are.
So, with all those hours you’ll be asked to spend on this game there’s got to be a major draw right? Something that’ll keep you hooked? Well besides that perfectionist itch, which should take you pretty far, there’s a whole host of character professions and monsters to create and nurture, a massive collection of completely over the top special moves (to be expected of a Disgaea game really) and a pretty decent and humorous story to boot. Characters wise you have twenty one human classes and twenty monster classes to choose from, each which various numbers of promotions that will create stronger variations of the creature. Each class and monster also brings their own strengths in the form of evilities, which are now selectable passives that the character starts with. These can vary from a simple power boost to skills to the gamble of forcing enemy counters and help to differentiate even characters of the same class. To help further provide a wide range of classes there are eight human weapons to choose from, each providing strengths and weaknesses and of course the totally silly and over the top special moves to be unlocked. Of these weapons, all the old staples make a well received return while the brand new Book type weapon gives you mage characters another option in offense.
Let’s have a further talk on these special moves. They are the spectacle that makes the Disgaea series what it is after all. Disgaea D2 does not disappoint here; while initial skills may seem somewhat tame that is simply to set up for what you’ll be looking forward to later. Fancy taking out a group of enemies, but all you have on you is a dinky little spear? Well why don’t you throw that spear into the sun and let the resulting explosion consume them? Oh go on then… Or how about playing a quick game of Bomberman between the enemy and your Prinny mount and watch as the odds get unfairly stacked in your favour as the enemy gets covered in bombs from head to toe? Amazing, go do it. There’s loads of skills for you to gawk at, several per weapon in fact, and even more for the monsters to offer you – especially when mounted. (Mounting is the new ability given to monsters in D2 that allows human counterparts to jump on your monsters backs to create mobile and deadly cavalier troopers).
A massive addition to Disgaea D2 which, in my eyes, makes it so much better than any other incarnation before it is the sheer amount of customisation you’re afforded. This is largely done through a special ‘cheat shop’ which feels poorly named for what is such a useful commodity. This cheat shop allows you to modify the rates at which you gain experience, currency, mana and weapon proficiency on a balancing scale, adjust enemy difficulty on the sly, turn on or off various battle settings, change how the item world works, set special challenges for yourself and edit so many more settings it gets somewhat mind boggling. Asides from that new bills introduced allow you to change the main character in your home base which really helps to make this game feel like your own, and quickly promote a character to their next profession which is a huge boon in the race to get the best professions out there. The customisation really is something to shout about here, who doesn’t want a game that becomes personalised to their desires in such a massive way?
All that leads me to a simple conclusion: Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness feels like the ultimate incarnation of the Disgaea series so far. It incorporates everything that worked in the previous games and added so much more to really elevate the experience to something amazing. Provided you’re not against grindfests, Disgaea D2 deserves to be in your games collection. I just hope you have the time for it.
5 super fun grinding stars out of 5