Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited

Nippon Ichi has made itself known for its deep tactical RPGs despite their humble beginnings with the polarizing Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure on the Sony PlayStation. It has become tradition for them, furthermore, to port titles of their chief Disgaea series to Sony’s portable systems, with the first and second Disgaeas receiving PlayStation Portable editions with added content, the third game originally for the PlayStation 3 receiving a port to the PlayStation Vita. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the announcement of Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited for the PSVita came as little surprise to the gaming community, providing an experience on par with its predecessors.

Like previous Disgaea entries, the fourth title features a deep tactical battle system with endless character and monster classes from which to create at the game’s hub town. In battle, the player can summon up to ten characters from a base panel, with a Game Over coming if the player has lost ten characters in combat, and while the player has several options from which to choose in this situation, such as retrying the battle, going back to the hub town, or returning to the title screen, any of them doesn’t preserve the levels the player’s characters gained in the lost battle like the third entry, providing a greater degree of difficulty akin to the first and second games that handled death the same way.

Fortunately, the Item World, coupled with at least one Mr. Gency’s Exit if the player reaches a tight situation there, makes for a decent, somewhat enjoyable grinding experience for the primary storyline battles, many of which require some sort of strategy, typically involving Geo Cubes that provide beneficial/detrimental effects to the player’s characters and/or the enemy, to overcome. Some of these battles can certainly be annoying, although they are by no means cheap, and coupled with skill boosting and the ability to promote characters to more powerful versions of their current classes outside battle, the fourth game’s battle engine makes for a fun experience.

Control hardly leaves room for improvement, with easy menus and character management, although there is no in-game clock to measure playing time, necessitating the use of a stopwatch should players wish to do so, and the game may crash occasionally, although some updates to the fourth game have since seen release since this reviewer began his playthrough.

As with its predecessors, Disgaea 4 features a superb comical storyline, this time revolving around a sardine-loving vampire named Valvatorez and the allies he gains during his quest, comical scenes in between missions adding another touch of humor while supplementing occasional trivia about the Japanese language, particularly with relation to sardines. The storyline script is generally free of error, and ultimately, the plot helps the game far more than hurts.

The same goes for the soundtrack and voice acting, in spite of some recycled tracks from prior series entries and some unusual battle dialogue such as Valvatorez shouting “Sardines!” when performing certain attacks.

The visuals too show more polish than usual for a Nippon Ichi title, with the character and enemy sprites in particular looking marvelous in spite of some slightly-choppy animation, although the environments hardly show any bland texturing, and many cutscenes rely on animated character portraits to do the job, accounting for an excellent-looking game.

Finally, completing the main storyline can take anywhere from thirty-five to fifty hours, although like its predecessors, the fourth entry features plenty of content and achievement trophies to pad out playing time even more. Overall, Disgaea 4 is another solid tactical RPG offering worthy of its ancestors’ moniker, what with its deep, engaging battle system, tight control, humorous narrative, excellent sound, and polished visuals. Admittedly, those that typically don’t enjoy tactical RPGs might not appreciate the depth of its mechanics, and may find the third entry to be more accessible due to its anti-frustration feature involving slaps on the wrist that accompany Game Overs, but even so, series fans are sure to take delight that the fourth entry very well builds upon prior entries’ mechanics.

The Good:
+Deep Disgaea battle mechanics.
+Great control.
+Superb story.
+Nice soundtrack.
+Polished visuals.

The Bad:
-Doesn’t include third game’s anti-frustration feature.
-No in-game clock.
-May crash occasionally

The Bottom Line:
Another solid Disgaea game.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 8/10
Story: 10/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Medium
Playing Time: 35-50+ Hours

Overall: 9/10

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