The Disgaea games have never done anything normal; throwing all sorts of crazy stories or strange characters like talking demon penguins so it comes as no surprise that even though we are now quite a few games into the series this game is called Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness.
The reason for the D2 title is that this game plays on from the now ten year old original title Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. As ever we are again taken to the Netherworld, this time meeting up with Laharl, the son of the great King Krichevskoy, the previous Overlord of the Netherworld. With the King now dead, Laharl now feels that he is to succeed his father to become the new Overlord, however he is only one of a few who fells that as the remaining population of demons either are not aware of his status or simply do not want him to be the Overlord and so, being the rather single minded ruler he is, sets off with his vassal Etna and a fallen angel called Fionne to show all the demons his true awesome powers and have them follow him, staking claim to be the true ruler of the Netherworld; of course as with any Disgaea game the story is a joy to witness, offering plenty of crazy characters to meet up with and strange twists to the story to keep it as entertaining as ever.
For those that have played any of the Disgaea games in the past the action is relatively unchanged from the previous titles, though it does feel a little easier to understand as even though there is still an awful lot to do, it is all well executed. Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is a turn based tactical role playing game, it’s a mouthful to say but a lot easier to play with you commanding each unit where to move, while the menu keeps the many options easy to follow. The battlegrounds are all represented in an isometric grid style, allowing you to plot your movement and attacks, with some of the levels even offering a puzzle element to the proceedings with enemies appearing on multi levels. Issuing commands to your units is simple, with you just moving the cursor over your chosen unit and then moving them around, with their possible actions then listed on the side of the screen, never really letting you have to guess what to do next. All this is also kept together with a versatile camera, allowing you to pan and zoom around the battlefield with ease. As you slowly stack up all of your units moves for each turn you not only need to get in a fight or defend but also take into consideration the position of each character, as an example fighting side by side will unleash partner attacks that dish out even more damage, then when ready, you end our turn and watch as carnage ensues.
With multileveled battle grounds and the return of the Geo Symbols that affect the stats of whoever stands on the corresponding coloured grid, there is a lot to take into consideration when going into battle. With D2 you also now have the choice to mount certain characters. Like previous iterations that had the lift option where you could pick up and throw other units to reach higher areas or travel faster, the human units are also now able to mount the monster units, jumping on their back and earning all sorts of additional perks along with it.
As Laharl travels the Netherworld he will come across all sorts of different demons, however he will mainly have the same base characters assist in battle, so away from the battlefields and back at his father’s castle that also acts as the game hub, to boost his ranks Laharl is able to visit the Dark Assembly to create more loyal followers; from general looks to their personality and class, there is a lot to choose from, allowing you to create the perfect follower to join you on your mission. The Dark Assembly also allows you to petition (or bribe) the council for other beneficial perks that may affect the battles or even work against you. Back at the main game hub, it is crammed full of demons for Laharl to interact with, some offering advice on weapons and armour and tactics, others sell items whilst others offer medical attention. For those looking to get into battles but not necessarily progress the story you can always visit the item world, where each weapon has a set of levels for you to battle through and in return your chosen weapon will level up.
The presentation is where the game seems to have settled in its ways but in turn that is also part of the games overall charm, supporting well drawn characters and a great vocal track, letting you just sit back and play through the often funny cut scenes.
Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is yet another fun and entertaining adventure into the Netherworld, offering familiar and unapologetically challenging tactical gameplay with a light sprinkling of insane humour, D2 is a welcome return to the older characters of the series.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: PS3)
+ Though still a complex and deep game there is plenty of help to get you through.
+ Monster Mount attacks.
+ Hundreds of hours of gameplay.
- Though suited to the series the visuals may put off first timers.