The folks from Nippon Ichi have always had some pretty quirky games that sit as some of the most entertaining narratives to play through, but does that necessarily translate into a memorable gameplay experience? The Strategy RPG genre has had some phenomenal steps forward in past years; Fire Emblem: Awakening presented some of the best the genre had to offer. But as we can all agree if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. It is that motto that seems to keep Nippon Ichi to push forward with their latest reboot release of Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited for the PS Vita.

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Team attacks are a classic Disgaea staple.

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is the retelling of the story of the powerful vampire Valvatorez, and his rather stubborn creed of never breaking a promise creating an even bigger problem than he originally intended. Players will go through the rather slapstick story defeating hundreds of enemies in strategic turn based combat, with dozens of units to create, level up, and gear to loot. An SRPG series for the ages, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisted continues the legacy of one of the most hardcore games in its genre now available on the PS Vita system withholding a graphical style that can even compete with its original PS3 format.

In terms of story, Disgaea 4 is hard to really keep interested as its slapstick humor doesn’t stop throughout your entire experience. There are countless endings available to the game, each one letting you create a new cycle bringing back the stats and characters you created up to that ending. The game is really more so focused on the hours upon hours you’ll spend grinding your characters to levels upwards of over 9000. While this creates plenty of play time for the title, it makes it feel like an unnecessary amount of game time for something so simple. The genre has been known to grow stale once you understand it’s particular mechanics and its rules of engagement. The Disgaea series has been no different; if you’ve played one of them you’ve quite honestly played them all and can easily pick up where you left off. It being the fourth game in the series fret not if its your first, simply because the stories in each installment aren’t a direct continuation of the previous titles. While many times characters make crossovers into the game, they aren’t always particularly considered “canon”.

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The over the top attack animations and beautiful visuals makes even normal attacks seem pretty awesome!

If you’ve ever played a Disgaea before then you’ll be right at home here, as there honestly is nothing too new to add to the franchise in this iteration. This is a port of the PS3 game Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, so there are minimal differences between the two games. The game has plenty of features chock full of hardcore grinding, strategy, maps, weapons, and characters to keep you going for hours on end. For those new to the SRPG experience, prepare for a vast amount of things to learn. This SRPG is definitely not an easy start for new players of the genre as there is not only the basic move attack and wait; you also have various other mechanics that make Disgaea such a unique and engaging experience that go beyond the classic SRPG formats. Disgaea is unique in its Geo Square mechanic, which adds positive and negative effects if characters are standing in affected areas. Also the throw mechanic lets you toss characters further so they use less of their moveable steps. It also lets you stack attacks in a particular order so as to plan accordingly for particular actions. These are merely all staples of the series.

Disgaea 4 brings back the Cam-pain feature, the system in which you can create new units and add new abilities by taking over territory in the Netherworld. Basically you are allowed as many units to create as you have areas in your map unlocked; there are also Evil Symbols to implement additional bonuses as opposed to grouping from previous Disgaea games. Evil Symbols will have a leader and then grunt units attached in the Symbol’s area of effect, the effect varies depending upon the symbol, but this boosts chances of team attacks, and will share the effect amongst the units inside the Symbol’s area.

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Peta spells are one of the few newest additions to this version of Disgaea

The problem with Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is that it’s grown very little in comparison to the original Disgaea game. You are still grinding characters like previous games, and you still unlock units just like you did in previous games. It’s the equivalent of playing Pokemon, you know that you have to defeat the gyms and beat the elite four. In Disgaea, you know you have to grind grind grind your units to progress through even tougher challenges to beat the game. You will often find yourself spending time in maps that aren’t even apart of the story to boost the level of your weapons and gear, this also boosts the levels of your characters. But that is really all that Disgaea has continuously felt like, one giant grind fest with very minimal story. The equivalent of playing chess repeatedly learning more about the game, and the computer’s difficulty is increasing steadily the more you play. Disgaea has done very little to improve upon its old iterations, and continues to play the exact same. It being an SRPG its very difficult to say that it needs to change, because it doesn’t.

The massive depth of mechanics I could literally go on and on about for that of the Disgaea series. Disgaea 4 makes no exception to this, as the staple mechanics such as throwing, and massive stats that will make number junkies heads spin of course make a return. The game does an excellent job of not making you feel too overwhelmed by the sheer amount of techniques within. This is done by many moves being done in naturally the same way that you would do another. For example you can throw enemies as well as your allies, creating options for you to move perhaps a powerful enemy away from weaker units, or even into your strongest of units to pit them into a trap you’ve set all your own.  Then there is the full character creation where you literally make a unit yourself and grow it how you want to. Want a warrior with high defense? No problem! Want the same type of unit but with high attack? You have the power to set that up.  Character creation in Disgaea is so in depth however you’ll almost feel as though you need a chart just to keep track of it all. There is plenty of number crunching involved for new players, but if you have a basic understanding of classic RPG stat progression you’ll fair just fine!

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The new crossover scenario included with this version of Disgaea 4 adds plenty of familiar faces to fans of the series!

Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten and the Disgaea franchise is one of the few games that has been able to repeat the same mechanics over the years, and still feel like a well thought out game.  But it is clearly a game for the diehard strategist, and certainly not for someone wanting a different experience, or opening up to the genre entirely. While it does a great job of introducing its own mechanics in a very simple and steady pace, there are alternatives to really get you ready for the beast that is Disgaea. Its also a game series that feels almost stale with the repeated mechanics of the game, but changing it is like trying to reinvent the wheel. Disgaea works as a series, but with a pointless and not very interesting story it really is just an over glorified game of chess.

This review is based on a PS Vita copy of a game provided by NIS America

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisted Review
While graphically the game is a phenomenal port of a PS3 title, the 2D sprite work shines on the Vita. There are plenty of mechanics to add new twists, and countless endings to collect. But I found myself just passing time with this title, much like a Sudoku puzzle during a soap opera.
Graphics9
Story4
Mechanics8
Replayability10
Engagement5
The Good
  • Hundreds of hours of play
  • Massive amount of content
  • Plenty of Unique mechanics to the SRPG genre
The Bad
  • Uninteresting story
  • Tedious grinding required
  • Poor pacing
7Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

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Alex enjoys long walks on the beach, mountain biking, and spending time in his extensive library reading novels from authors of yore. His hobbies include traveling the world putting small critters into ball shaped capsules, slaying Flying Wyverns, and mastering his wake-up Heavy Shoryuken!