In roleplaying game series whose main entries each occur in completely different universes, it’s become something of a new trend to produce direct sequels to particular titles, with Square-Enix’s direct sequel to Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, coming to mind. Given that Nippon Ichi’s Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was a beloved title with endearing characters, they themselves decided to hop aboard the direct sequel bandwagon with their own direct sequel to the title, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness for PlayStation 3, which provides an experience on par with other main entries of the series.
*begin spoilers for original Disgaea*
The direct sequel opens with Laharl having secured his throne as Overlord of the Netherworld, with his main minions Etna and fallen angel Flonne at his side, following the events of the good ending of the first game. Those who didn’t get the good ending in their playthroughs of the first Disgaea will likely be lost, although the narrative in the direct sequel is enjoyable nonetheless, with plenty characters old and new. There are some occasional twists that seem somewhat recycled from earlier events in the game, but otherwise, the storyline definitely helps D2 more than hurts.
*end spoilers for original Disgaea*
The first direct Disgaea sequel more or less features the same tactical battle system as its predecessors, with a Dark Assembly able to pass laws favorable to the player governing things such as the power and expense of items at the castle hub’s shops, the Item World allowing for safe grinding so long as the player possesses a Mr. Gency’s Exit if they’re close to losing in a particular stage, and an anti-frustration feature present in story battles where, if the player gets a Game Over, the game kicks them back to the castle hub where they have to pay to resurrect all characters deceased in the battle. As with other games in the franchise, combat is one of the highlights, and aside from occasional annoying maps is very much a boon to the game.
Control is also largely solid, with easy menus and a linear structure always keeping the player moving in the right direction, alongside skippable cutscenes although there are some rare crashes that could potentially happen in the middle of story battles (yet this reviewer only experienced one instance of this).
Tenpei Sato returns to compose for the first direct Disgaea sequel, and while the bulk of the tracks are good, many are recycled from its predecessor. The voice acting, however, is mostly top-notch aside from occasional asinine battle quotes, allowing for a game pleasant on the ears.
The sequel is more pleasant on the eyes, with the franchise’s typical style of two-dimensional character sprites that show plenty emotion alongside the character portraits narrating cutscenes against three-dimensional environs serving the game well, in spite of some slight blockiness at a few points.
Finally, making it through the game to view the main ending can take players as little as fifteen hours with a bit of luck, although getting to the absolute final storyline battle and triumphing could potentially take players as long as forty-five hours, with a Game Over in certain story battles kicking players back to the very beginning of the game, providing for plenty lasting appeal and opportunities to level and promote weaker characters.
Overall, Disgaea D2 is for the most part a solid direct sequel that hits most of the right notes with regards to elements such as its solid tactical gameplay, control, localization, aurals, visuals, and especially its lasting appeal, with only a few areas that do leave a bit of room for improvement, particularly with regards to some minor but mercifully rare technical glitches, the narrative’s basis on one specific ending of its predecessor’s plot, recycled tracks, and a bit of unusual battle dialogue. Long-time fans of the franchise are sure to appreciate the first direct Disgaea sequel, and given the mentioned anti-frustration feature of time spent on losing battles hardly wasted, perhaps newcomers to the series and strategy RPGs, as well.
+Solid tactical battle system.
+Decent narrative and localization.
+Endless replay value.
-Some minor glitches.
-A few repetitive, sometimes predictable story parts.
-Those who didn’t get the good ending in first game might be lost.
-Recycled music at times.
-A lot of unnatural battle dialogue.
The Bottom Line:
Another great Disgaea game.
Platform: PlayStation 3
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Playing Time: 15-45+ Hours