Game Review #455: Disgaea 4 Complete+ (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Reviewer: Allan Jenks
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
Publisher: NIS America
Category: Strategy RPG
Release Date: 10.29.2019
Buy Disgaea 4 Complete+ from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
I Have No Idea What’s Going On…
I want to start by saying that I have never played any of the titles in the Disgaea series prior to this. I have always seen trailers and thought that it looked interesting, and I have had a few of the recent switch titles on my wish list. So, when I got the chance to review Disgaea 4 Complete+, I was happy to take it on. My main concern was whether or not I needed prerequisite knowledge of the series in order to fully appreciate this one, and the answer was no, I did not. However, I get a distinct feeling that I might have a better appreciation for some of the characters and their quirks if I had not entered blindly into the series with the fourth entry—that or I just don’t like some of the characters. Either way, let’s take a deeper look at this beautifully-illustrated, if maybe a little over-complicated, strategy RPG.
A Man of His Word
The story picks up with Valvatorez, a vampire residing in Hades—which is a prison in the Netherworld where souls forbidden to reincarnate are kept—tending to his class of freshly-graduated Prinnies. Prinnies are penguin-like creatures who are actually humans who led bad lives and must repay their sins in the Netherworld before they are allowed to reincarnate. As a reward for enduring Valvatorez’ grueling training and graduating, he promises the graduating Prinnies each a sardine; but before he can make good on his promise, a dark energy appears and steals away all of the Prinnies.
Valvatorez is apparently really big on keeping his promises—part of the reason he loves sardines so much, as they allow him to gain some of his power and strength back without resorting to drinking human blood, which he vowed to never again do—so when he is suddenly unable to fulfill his promise to the Prinnies, he vows to find out who is responsible for their disappearance and track them down so that he can get back the Prinnies and give them their sardines—after that, he really doesn’t care what happens to the Prinnies though.
Valvatorez quickly finds that the Prinnies have been whisked away by the corrupternment—the government that oversees all of the Netherword—in a plan to execute all Prinnies due to overpopulation from so many bad humans ending up on the wrong side of the afterlife. Now, he and his crew of monsters, demons, and remaining Prinnies must lead a revolt to overthrow the corrupternment and get back the Prinnies for long enough to give them their sardines.
The Complete + part of this release is basically every extra scenario, every extra character, and every DLC ever released for the game, plus some added functionality and tweaks. So, if you’re like me and have never played it, this is the version to get. There is a lot of content. I often found myself overwhelmed with new information being provided to me, and again, this may be because there’s a certain expectation of previous knowledge of the series that I am obviously missing, but I would feel like I was cramming for an exam after a while, usually resulting in my spending about 20 or so minutes playing through a new battle scenario—and snippet of the story progression that comes along with it—and then quitting. Luckily, you can pretty much save whenever you want, so it still worked out for me.
You start out with the basics of battle: the grid system, movements, actions, executing those commands, etc. Each battle is prefaced with a story progression event that cleverly builds in whatever new technique you are about to learn, shows you how to do it, then starts the battle and has you try your own hand at using it. I found a lot of the explanations to be fairly good, but a few of the first attempts I made at some of the moves proved otherwise.
More Than One Way to Save a Prinny
I mentioned earlier that I felt like I was studying for an exam… well, I thought this feeling would go away after I got the hang of things, but I never really stopped feeling like this, as every new scenario just kept introducing more and more techniques, to the point that I just started winging it and hoping for the best. The good news is that there’s more than one technique to win, so even if you don’t perfectly nail the one you’re supposed to be learning, you can still win the fight and progress to the next scenario.
Some of the skills I really enjoyed were the DemonFusion skill and MagiChange. With MagiChange, you can turn one of your monsters into a unique weapon with special skills only available through a MagiChange attack. After transforming into a weapon, they are then equipped to a demon in your party to be used for extra attack. With fusion, you can combine two of your monsters into one giant monster with buffed stats and extra attack power.
There are also color-coded bricks (Geo Blocks) that sometimes appear on the battle map, each of which gives a different effect to anyone standing on it—called Geo Effects—which can raise or lower your attack, defense, etc. These can be used strategically to help win the battle a little easier. You can destroy these blocks by throwing a block of the same color onto an adjoining space on the grid, which can also cause damage to any enemy standing on the affected area.
Eyes Bigger Than Stomach
The whole thing started feeling like one giant tutorial that wouldn’t end. 4 hours in and I felt like I was still waiting to get started. The techniques are fun, don’t get me wrong, I just think I may have bitten off a bit more than I could chew here. Obviously there is a huge fanbase for the Disgaea series, so it’s not that the game is bad, it’s just maybe a bit much for a casual strategy RPG player such as myself.
That being said, there is still much to be appreciated with this game, even if it’s not necessarily your thing; for example: the beautifully-designed battlefields that each have their own personality. For a grid-based battle system, the stages are certainly easy on the eyes—though some of the angles made for a few blind spots that required me to switch to overhead mode instead of 3-D—and each one felt unique to itself. The characters were thoughtfully designed and beautiful as well, from the battlefield to the cutscenes. I also appreciated some of the references to pop culture content from the 90s, like references to certain popular alternative bands.
As far as audio, this game is brilliant. The music is grandiose and over-the-top while still being tasteful and appropriate to the game and its energy, and the voice acting is phenomenal, delivering amazing performances by the cast. The characters are really brought to life by the talented voice actors.
Overall, I was a bit out of my element with this game, but looking at the game for what it is, rather than what I’m good at, I can honestly say that it is a very well-made and entertaining game—one that obviously wouldn’t be on 4+ sequels if there weren’t a large number of people who enjoy playing the games. Certainly, if you are a fan of the Disgaea series, you will want to pick up Disgaea 4 Complete+ immediately, but if you are not already familiar with it, you may want to start with the first game before diving into the sequels, or at very least, try the demo first. If you are not horribly familiar with strategy RPG tactics, there might be some simpler games to start out with, but also keep in mind that I may just suck at them, so take that how you will.
Buy Disgaea 4 Complete+ from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*A game code was provided for review purposes.