Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited
- Street Date:
- August 12th, 2014
- Reviewed by:
- Elizabeth Henges
- Review Date:1
- September 8th, 2014
- Game Release Year:
- PS Vita
- NIS America
- Nippon Ichi Software
Digital version reviewed.
The 'Disgaea' series is essentially what put the developer and publisher Nippon Ichi on the board. Combining humorous, yet deep tales about demons and surprisingly dense strategy RPG gameplay, the series has gotten a decent following of fans, warranting a number of sequels and re-releases. This trend continues with 'Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited', an enhanced Vita port of the PlayStation 3 title 'Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten'. As typical Nippon Ichi fare, this re-release adds all of the DLC from the PS3 version, and mechanical improvements taken from the series' latest entry, 'Disgaea D2'.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
The main character in 'A Promise Revisited' is one Valvatorez, a vampire that has lost his powers because of a promise he made long ago. Because of his loss of his power, which was befitting of a Tyrant, he is sent to Hades, a prison for demons who do not carry on their proper duties as a demon. There, he is a Prinny Instructor, training the souls of deceased humans to properly pay for their sins. However, when the Prinnies are abducted before Valvatorez can keep his promise to them, and he sets out to overthrow the Corrupterment of the Netherworld to right their wrongs.
The game is spread out across multiple chapters, with a varying number of maps to work through. Each map is an area with varying terrain and other gimmicks, and are separated into squares, much like a board game. Battles play out in a turn based affair, with the player moving and then positioning all of their characters, followed by attacking (if the player can reach the enemy), and then the enemy gets a turn to do the same. Positioning is important, for if an enemy attacks the character's back or sides, some of their evasion chances will be lost and the character can even take more damage during the attack. In addition, if the attacking player character is higher up terrain wise than the target, the attacker can get various boosts; but, if the height difference between the attacker and adversary is too much, they won't be able to attack them at all.
Unlike many of the other 'Disgaea' titles, the player learns and power ups a variety of skills in 'A Promise Revisited' with mana, which is obtained from defeating enemies. Mana itself is an extremely important aspect of the entire game: Other than using it to improve skills, it is needed to promote and reincarnate characters (which gives better stats), call the Dark Assembly (which can do anything from unlocking new classes to having characters in your base dress in swimsuits), and buy Evilities (essentially character traits). Managing mana is a very important aspect of the game, as using it effectively will ensure characters are strong enough to handle the next gauntlet of maps.
There are also two distinct types of demons in the world of 'Disgaea.' The Humanoid characters are more of what is normally expected from a strategy RPG: They can equip a variety of weapons, are of classes that are relatively typical (like Fighter, Mage, and so on), and can lift and throw other characters. Monster characters, on the other hand, work a bit differently: Their skill pools are a bit more restricted than their more human-like counterparts, and can only equip specific types of weapons. Unlike humanoid demons, however, monster characters can fuse with other monsters, combining into a huge, massively powerful form, and also Magichange with humanoid characters, turning into a weapon for the humanoid to use, complete with a new and advantageous set of skills.
If that isn't sounding complicated enough, there are also Geo Panels and Geo Blocks to worry about. Geo Blocks and Panels give various effects and detriments to allies and enemies alike, and it's very important to keep track of them, lest the player get decimated. Several different things affect the effects of these Geo items, including destroying them or throwing them out of an area of Panels that can be affected. The clever use of these Geo effects makes almost every stage a puzzle of sorts, where many times it's more important to work the Panels and Blocks to your advantage than it is to defeat your foes.
There are plenty of things to do and keep track of outside the battlefield, as well. The base will be home to the typical item and weapon shops, but it also grants access to the Item World. In the Item World, the player can dive into one of their items and fight a bunch of battles, strengthening said item. Many different things can happen in the Item World, including super bosses, pirate attacks (where you can steal their boat if you win), and other flat out crazy stuff. It's usually worth it though, as the player can get much more powerful equipment out of the deal. The Item World is a bit risky, though; unless the player has a specific item, they can only exit the World every tenth level, and won't be able to recover HP or MP during that time.
The Cheat Shop
But, possibly the most important thing to do in the base is actually something new to 'A Promise Revisited'. The Cheat Shop makes a return from 'Disgaea D2', and it makes a huge impact on the ability to grind and gain currency. With the Cheat Shop, the player can use points to increase or decrease the amount of experience, HL (money), and mana obtained from each enemy killed. Decreasing the amount from one area yields points to add into the others, so the player can effectively manipulate how quickly they can level up. In addition, usingthe cheat Shop can also raise the levels of enemies across the board, making it easy to find an ideal map, raise the enemies on it to a decent level, and go to town. The Cheat Shop takes the grind that was present in the original 'Disgaea 4' and practically gets rid of it, making it very simple to get underleveled characters up to speed or to be able to get some extra mana for one of its multiple reasons.
All of this can sound quite difficult to remember and pull off, but the game introduces everything at such a pace that the player has time to grasp all of the concepts. Once through the tutorial, the fun picks up even everything continues to fall into place. Overall the difficulty does feel a bit on the easy side, but this may be due to the inclusion of the Cheat Shop helping to mitigate grinding for levels.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'A Promise Revisited' mostly uses spritework for the game, and it looks pretty good. The characters are relatively well detailed, given their size, and the HD nature of the sprites themselves lend to a very well-drawn, quality touch. In addition to these sprites, some story scenes also show the characters close up on a typical 2D background, a semi-typical presentation in Japanese RPGs. While the characters are talking, they'll exhibit a variety of poses to be a caricature of sorts for their emotions, but what makes it look good is the fact that 'A Promise Revisited' actually animates these bits, instead of simply having static character pictures like other games of the series. It gives the characters a bit more life, and makes it feel authentic… well, as authentic a game about demons and explosive penguins can get.
In comparison, the maps and backgrounds themselves are a step below. The maps are rendered in 3D, and while the locations may seem interesting, the art style of the maps are mostly uninspired; obviously, it's not a big driving point of the game to exhibit pretty maps, but it can still be underwhelming at times visually.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
'Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited' actually has a fair amount of voice acting in it. Every major scene (and even some of the minor ones) are fully voiced, and in the later chapters when there are a bunch of characters chiming in at every scene, it's rather impressive. The English voice acting is also rather strong, though if you end up not liking it the Japanese track is available to switch to at any time. One odd quirk, though, is that the BGM can often drown out the character's voices; however, the levels of the music and voice volume can be set separately in the options menu, so it's only a minor gripe.
The music, on the other hand, is the typical 'Disgaea' fare. Some of the tracks are very good and really stand out, but others sort of just blend into the background… they aren't bad enough to stick out, but they also aren't good enough to be noteworthy, either. As a result, the soundtrack is full of highlights and (forgettable) lowlights, which isn't uncommon for the genre.
If there's anything the 'Disgaea 'games excel at, it's their immense amount of content. While the main story usually takes anywhere from twenty to forty hours, the various playable stuff after the credits roll can last hundreds of hours. 'A Promise Revisited' is the biggest 'Disgaea' game yet.
For starters, there are multiple obtainable endings. Each of these endings requires another playthrough, which can be pretty painless since you keep your party's levels on another loop. However, if replaying the main story isn't your thing, you can also opt to trying one of the many alternate storylines that become available, which provides some nice development for the various characters you meet during the game.
A bunch of bonus characters are available to fight and unlock, and these super bosses require some super levels to defeat. While the game can be beaten relatively easily at level 100, the level cap is 9,999, and that number will get closer and as the player delved into the vast content the postgame has to offer.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
Most of the bonus content 'A Promise Revisited' has already been discussed at some point earlier in the review. There are mechanical additions such as the Cheat Shop and the new Peta spells, and on the story front there's also a new scenario exclusive to this Vita version of the game.
The biggest addition is probably the inclusion of all of the PlayStation 3's 'Disgaea 4' DLC. This includes some story scenarios, new characters and cameos from past 'Disgaea' games, and a lot of high level battles to work though. This addition adds a ton of content to an already meaty game, meaning plenty of extra goodies, even for those that have already beat the original PS3 version.
'Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited' may very well be one of the better Vita titles to make a western release. The game has a decent storyline and is simply fun to play, and the massive amount of postgame content is sure to keep players busy for hours on end.
For those new to 'Disgaea' series, don't let the '4' scare you: 'A Promise Revisited' is probably the most accessible title in the series yet, especially with the inclusion of the Cheat Shop and the way it eases the player into complicated mechanics. The 'Disgaea' games are also only vaguely linked together in terms of storyline, so aside from a couple minor cameos you're not going to be missing out on plot details.
For those that already own 'A Promise Unforgotten', this might be a slightly harder sell. Of course, the main game is still the same, but the inclusion of all the DLC is sure to save you a pretty penny, if you already haven't bought it all. It may be difficult to get back into the game if you already spent hundreds of hours in the original, but the mechanical upgrades do make the grind less painful. Really though, if you're interested in 'A Promise Revisited' and don't mind replaying the main story (or were thinking of replaying it), pick it up: The content additions and the portability of having it on the Vita make it the superior version.
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