Whssnh the ~80 story raphs a braphy. The atlds cls e and ke">Dark Stratelf you're a veteran of past Disgaea games, D5 makes for a good finale to the series. If you're considering this game and not familiar with
by Maxxim☢ on Steam
Foreword: While the controversy around this port is morally justified (COMPLETE edition missing online content), I really don't think it effects game-play enough to effect my final verdict overall. It's still a Disgaea game at the end of the day: So while custom maps and invaders would be neat, I bought this expecting a mostly-offline-single-player experience anyways.
Disgaea is an isometric turn-based RPG series that plays similarly to games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem. The games are known amongst RPG enthusiasts for their cliche-but-self-aware stories and absurd numerological scale. Disgaea 5 is the latest installment in the series, and in my opinion the best one yet. The graphics got better, the numbers got bigger, and the characters... Okay they didn't improve much, but that's anime for you.
Disgaea 5's story centers around an intergalactic conflict in which the evil, high-leveled, aptly-named Void Dark, attempts to seize control of the netherverse from the demons who reside within it. I liked this level of scale in the story, as past Disgaea games I'd played (1 + 2 on PS2) never really explored the planetary aspect of the netherverse beyond the conflict in Disgaea 1. They mostly stayed confined to their own worlds, but this setting is a perfect opportunity to link them all together.
You play as a wandering fighter named Killia (KILL YA, GET IT? Cut myself bringing you this edgy trivia), who seeks to defeat Void Dark all on his own. Of course as with any JRPG, within minutes of starting his quest the lone ranger is joined (against his will) by a sassy, bouncy, pink-haired market-research experiment named Seraphina. She is the result of a terrible accident in which Etna, Rozalin, and Vulcanus (The female leads in the first 3 games) all attempted to use a teleporter at the same time, causing them to fuse into one of the most annoying THOTs in JRPG history. She will make you want to turn the game off if you play it in English, so be sure to switch to Japanese voices before you start (more on this later). From there you meet several other colorful characters far less annoying than Seraphina, who all share the same goal. They've been wronged, and they want REVENGE!
As you play through the ~80 story missions you'll stack all kinds of loot, recruit various custom characters, and even partake in demonic politics through the Dark Assembly (AKA Congress, but EV-- MORE EVIL!).
+ Graphics and special effects are at their peak. Character sprites have great definition, and while the poses are a little limited there are a lot of fun special animations that do a good enough job at hiding it. Weapons sprites are CUH-RAZY and range from "Mall Ninja" to "how do you even hold that". Maps are still pretty flat, but have more detail, and destructible terrain props are always a welcome feature in any game.
+ Sense of scale. The Netherverse is a big place, and features like Nether Research and Squads give the game a Mass Effect / Warhammer 40k vibe that I really enjoyed. The stat numbers in this game reach un-ironically epic levels, as you start from a measly level 1 with double-digit characteristics and eventually become a LEVEL 9999 MOB BOSS with stat points reaching the TEN MILLIONS. You will eventually be capable of dealing BILLIONS of damage with a single attack. It's incredibly satisfying.
+ Fun choreography. The atmosphere of the plot is dark, but the moves are just as over-the-top as in past games. Team attacks have great variety, and while being able to skip animations is a convenient feature, some are just genuinely fun to watch.
+ Building an army. In older Disgaea games you would often have your 10 main characters that you always used, then another 10 or so that you never used (either because they were under-leveled or you just thought they looked stupid). Disgaea 5 gives your peanut gallery a purpose by allowing you to send them on research missions, or load them into specific squads to give buffs to your main characters. By the end of the game I had over 90 characters in my party and almost all of them had specific uses in my grind to 9999.
+ The story is cliche, but it could have been worse. If you've watched anime a lot (you probably have if you're considering this game) you'll be able to predict the story pretty easily, but the characters that aren't Seraphina will grow on you over time as you complete it. It does a great job of feeling like a finale for the Disgaea series overall due to it's galactic scale and crossover characters. I don't think it'll actually be the last Disgaea game of course, but I wouldn't be disappointed if it was.
- Chara-World. This is a new feature in D5, and honestly one of the worst ones ever. Hey, kind of off-topic question here: Do you like Mario Party? You play it with your friends when you get drunk on weekends, right? Well, what if you could play Mario Party, but single-player only with no mini-games and tedious procedural maps? What do you mean that sounds like torture? You only have to run it 30+ times with each of your characters to reach maximum stats! You'll also need to run it a few dozen more times to farm ability scrolls... Why are you running? Are you still there? Please respond...
- The Sage and Item World. Item world hasn't changed much since past games: You run through procedurally generated maps inside your items in order to level them up and make them stronger. This is good fun; Grindy, but not exactly necessary to finish the game. The problem is that it got pathetically easy once I trained a Sage. Sages can learn a special move that hits literally every enemy on a map, no matter where they are. Of course, this means once you have a Sage with high enough stats, you can finish literally every level of the game within 1-2 turns. While it was nice to have a shortcut to all that grinding, I felt more like it obsoleted the rest of my team. Why bother strategizing at all when you can just deploy the nuke and call it a day?
- The Dark
Strategy Assembly. The concept itself has always been novel, but the execution is so impractical. It's essentially a menu of features that you have to spend Mana and items to unlock. In some cases it makes sense having a strategy committee that authorizes new recruits, but given the setting it really shouldn't be playing out like the typical "bribe politicians to make them vote yes" scenario. It's especially tedious in the post-story section, where you have to use it to change character classes (Something that should be easily do-able from the status screen).
- The English voices SUCK. As with most anime subs are better than dubs, but especially so in this game. I had kept the English subs on in Disgaea 1 and 2 because they were more humorous games, so bad voice acting would complement the absurdity. Disgaea 5's English VAs are pretty bad quality, some bad casting picks and shoddy audio mastering (This is especially evident with General Bloodis, the JP VA has the cool reverb filter on his voice while the EN VA pretty much reads his lines raw). Definitely not fitting for the more serious tone of the game.
- Lighten up. The tone of the story is dark, to the point where characters' quirks come off as more annoying rather than humorous. I like cheese as much as any weeb, but there just wasn't enough traditional Disgaea slapstick to make me laugh. The special attacks, the item descriptions, the prinnies, everything gameplay side had the same tone I know and love from the series, but the story was taking itself way too seriously.
If you're a veteran of past Disgaea games, D5 makes for a good finale to the series. If you're considering this game and not familiar with the franchise, I'd recommend starting with the original Disgaea and playing up from there. The amount of features in this game can become overwhelming without patience stats in the 13 million range otherwise.