The Disgaea series has been around for a while now, and it has resonated with fans of the strategy RPG genre ever since the release of the very first game on the PlayStation 2 back in 2003. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance marks the first title in the franchise to make an appearance on Sony’s current generation console, the Playstation 4.
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance’s story puts players in the shoes of the introvert warrior Killia. An evil overlord by the name of Void Dark has instigated an intergalactic war, putting the entire galaxy in danger as a result. In order to prevent Void Darks devious plans from coming to fruition, a number of overlords form a rebellion, which is led by an outspoken princess known as Seraphina. The princess stumbles upon Killia on the battlefield, and decides to aid him in his quest for revenge against Void Dark, partly because she’s trying to avoid an arranged marriage with the evil overlord. If this sounds a little bizarre, that’s because it’s supposed to be. The game’s story unfolds via visual novel-like conversations between the game’s prominent characters, which are made all the more entertaining via a healthy dose of quirky humor.
Long standing fans of the series will feel right at home with Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance. The PS4 title looks unmistakably similar to its predecessors, right down to its grid-based battle system and art style. On the surface, not a whole lot has changed in Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance, and those who were expecting a radically different experience this time around may end up disappointed with the game. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to do in the game outside of battles and activities that prepare you for them. It helps, though, that the battle system is worthwhile and manages to feel fresh, thanks to a decent serving of brand new features in addition to refinements to existing mechanics.
As is the case with previous titles, battles are turn-based and each character can travel a specific number of squares on the grid-based map during each turn. The main characters learn unique special attacks that level up the more frequently you use them. In addition, a rage meter fills up for each character during battle, giving you the ability to unleash powerful attacks for a limited period of time. Further adding to the battle system’s strategic depth is the ability to tower up and throw party members around to cover greater distance and get to areas that were otherwise impossible to reach.
The character creation component has received some much needed refinements that make it a more enjoyable experience. Previous Disgaea games had you use Mana to create new characters. Moreover, a Council bill was required to make characters with high levels of bonus points. In Disgaea 5, you’ll need none of that, as you’ll be able to hire new characters via the in-game currency. This, in turn, gives you the opportunity to speed up the development of your characters, since the in-game currency is far more easier to obtain than mana.
As opposed to previous Disgaea games, where you would unlock new ranks by leveling up and then advance your character into those new ranks, the ranks in Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance are upgraded automatically. The more you use a character, the more it levels up in rank. As a result, characters that you’ve created and used from the very beginning will remain relevant later on. This is in contrast to earlier Disgaea games, where you usually ended up replacing your created characters with captured enemies that possessed higher stats.
Weakened enemies during combat can be captured and sent to a special prison cell back at your base. Through a particular character class that you’ll eventually end up unlocking, you’ll be able to convince some of them to join your ranks. Meanwhile, other enemies can be converted to rare items. This is a rather interesting mechanic, as it gives you the incentive to keep a lookout for new enemy types to capture.
New to the franchise is the addition of a Quest giver, who lets you take up as many as 10 quests at a given time. These quests are directly associated with the availability of the aforementioned character classes, thanks to which you’ll have a clear understanding of when you’ll unlock a new class. Luckily, you won’t have to go out of the way to complete all of these quests, as these tasks can be done while you’re in story missions or the Item World.
Speaking of the Item World, it’s a great place to enhance items and, in turn, make some of the seemingly impossible story missions a lot more approachable. You’ll fight through monsters on randomly generated floors until you’ve defeated an item general, much like in previous Disgaea games.
Another addition to the franchise is the ability to transfer innocents. Whereby you can move innocents around between items prior to subduing them. This gives you plenty of flexibility, allowing you to swap out useful innocents from items that you don’t intend to level up.
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance also gives you the ability to dispatch your unused characters on expeditions, so that they don’t go to waste while you’re away on story missions. It works a little like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s Motherbase dispatch missions; you select a number of your characters and send them off to various planets or stars. Upon their return, they present a battle report to you, which outlines the enemies they defeated and captured as well as the skills and items they gained. It’s an interesting metagame that adds an additional layer of depth to the core game.
This review covers the PS4 version of the game.
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance Review (PS4)
All in all, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance lives up to the series’ pedigree by striking the right chords where it matters the most i.e. its battle system. While the game does fall a little short in other areas, it’s easy to recommend to all fans of SRPGs. There's plenty of replay value here, provided that you enjoy the combat.