There really haven’t been many opportunities for Nintendo fans to get a chance to check out just what the Disgaea series is all about. Disgaea 5 Complete is the only game in the series to be on a Nintendo platform, with the exception of the remake of the first game on the DS in 2008. This game is a port of the original PS4 release from 2015 with all of the game’s DLC included. It comes fresh on the heels of the release of a Fire Emblem game, but I don’t think you should give this game a pass because of that. It’s pretty darn good in it’s own right.
Disgaea 5 Complete has you taking the role of a group of “heroes” led by Killia, a young demon who is out for revenge against Demon Emperor Void Dark for something that happened in his past. He’s accompanied by Seraphina, a princess and Demon Overlord herself who believes every man should kneel at her feet. She’s got her own reasons for fighting Void Dark that involve an arranged marriage that she wants no part in. Together they set out to defeat the Demon Emperor and employ the services of other Demon Overlords, Prinnies, and other various characters, setting up a rebel army to fight the emperor and bring him down.
The story is weird, some of it makes absolutely no sense, but the characters are so endearing that you can’t help but get wrapped up in the events of what is happening. The main story itself is fine and I enjoyed seeing the different characters interacting with each other. You’ve got over the top demons based on people like Hulk Hogan or the Rock. They’re interacting with people who are overly analytical and want to look at every situation from every possible angle to determine what’s going on. Where it gets weird is with some of the DLC stories that you can play through to recruit new members to your party. In one story two girls are setting up a birthday party for their brother and you get sucked into fighting against him to simply keep him busy while they prepare. In another, two love birds are arguing over whether smooth or chunky peanut butter is better and you have to step in and fight them to get them to calm down. They’re weird. They’re dumb in many cases, but I just couldn’t help but enjoy the absurdity of it all. My only issue with the story is the little quips that characters say during cut scenes. They often don’t actually relate to the story that is being presented and they say them a LOT. So much that it gets distracting at times. Many of the scenes between the few main characters are fully voiced, but much of it is text dialogue with little quips that get very repetitive.
The gameplay itself is pretty standard turn based strategy RPG fair. You play on a grid that’s presented in an isometric angle. Luckily you can change it to be more overhead so that the directions on the d-pad correspond to the directions on the screen. You can have up to 10 members of your party on screen at any one time. You move them around the playfield attacking enemy fighters to achieve the objective on the map, usually to destroy every enemy fighter. There are plenty of other systems at play, though. Maybe too many. I found myself using two or three core mechanics and forgetting that I had many others to use. You can pick up friendly units and throw them to other portions of the map to increase how far they can move. You can use those stacks of friendly characters to get huge bonuses to your attack power. You can toss Prinnies at enemies and have them blow up like bombs to inflict damage from afar. Friendly units that are positioned next to each other during a battle can perform tag team attacks that can be very devestating.
Outside of battles you’ll be wandering around a central hub world where you can interact with various stores and other places to better your army. There is so much stuff going on in this hub that’s it’s almost overwhelming. You’ve got your item store. You’ve got a skill store. You’ve got a hospital where you can heal everyone. You’ve got a character that will let you change the parameters of the game to allow you to accrue more money, EXP or Mana depending on what you want to grind for. You’ve got someone who’ll show you all your achievements. (The full achievement list from the PS4 game is here and they even display them in a box that looks almost identical to the trophy notification of the PS4.) You’ve got another person who will let you interrogate captured foes and even recruit them to your cause. You’ve got a Dark Assembly that will let you vote on different things that can be added to the game, like new stores to interact with or change the color palette of the characters. There are more than a dozen different stores and systems to interact with when you’re not in battle. While many of them aren’t really necessary to your success they can certainly be beneficial to your cause, but there again may be too many things to try and keep track of.
The game itself is really good. I found it to be really well balanced. I didn’t have to do a ton of grinding because I felt underpowered. Thankfully there are ways to easily upgrade equipment and the levels themselves are infinitely replayable and short enough that you don’t feel like you’re wasting your time if you need to grind levels for a couple characters. You can be in and out of some levels in just a couple of minutes and there are enough that you can find the right balance of difficulty vs experience gain. This version of the game even gives you a nice bonus to start off because of your access to all the DLC from the original game. You’re almost immediately given a bonus of 1,000,000 HL to buy any equipment you need and it will take a long time, even after equipping your full party, to run out of money. You also have access to dozens of characters through the DLC missions to recruit and add to your party. The first few hours of the game should be pretty easy because of that, but once you start leveling everything out the difficulty balances out nicely.
Disgaea 5 Complete is a great strategy game for anyone looking to pick up something on the Switch. It’s the first big strategy RPG on the system and it’s a great way to start if you’re looking for something in the genre to try out. It looks wonderful regardless of whether you’re playing it on the TV or in handheld mode.
Review copy of the game provided by NIS America.
Played through the full story and many DLC missions.
Total Play Time: 54 hours