Disgaea 4 is the 4th entry in the franchise. It is accessible to newcomers while still remaining familiar to fans of the series. It is set within the same universe as all the other games in the netherworld with familiar characters returning. It contains the same themes as seen in previous games and the morals of demons and humans are just the same as before. Just as always with all of the other Disgaea games, it proudly wears its otaku nature and the dialogue is still as hilariously cheesy as before.
Valvatorez is a vampire who works as a prinny trainer. He used to be a tyrant in the Netherworld and is now planning a rebellion against the Corupternment, the Netherworld’ governing body. The Corupternment had ordered the mass extermination of all prinnies.
The story provides more in depth exploration of the lore of the Disgaea series with its new setting. The atmosphere is just the same as before with its mix of black comedy and hell like environments.
Each map has its own unique design and layout. You can replay levels and chapters every time you complete one. Combat has all of the core features from previous games but with tweaks. You move on an isometric grid in a map depending on which character you have. You can either move in a short distance or a long distance. You can select which command you would like to choose while in combat: whether it is a skill, item or regular attack or choosing to end a turn. Enemies can now fuse with each other to become gigantic and have a massive stat buff.
Magichange returns once again where beast type enemies or allies can turn into weapons to use. Now you can magichange with more beast type creatures for even more powerful weapons. Geoblocks make a return where you can throw them to other blocks to create a chain effect and use for special boosts in combat. Geoblocks have new effects as well with very cheap stat buffs and instant kill moves.
The tower system has some tweaks as you can now grab enemies while you are in a tower position and use special abilities exclusive to the tower set. Bonuses based on the combos you execute make a return. The higher you reach, the more powerful the prize. You can stack other objects to form ladders to reach higher areas or throw characters to other areas.
The skills system functions just the same where every enemy you defeat, you earn mana to use to enhance skills and learn evilties to enhance your character. You learn more as you progress through the game. The item world makes a reappearance where you can level up any piece of item, and pass through randomized dungeons to fight leveled enemies based on the quality of the item. Mr. Gencys is the only way to escape besides going through every 10 levels you earn in the item world.
The item world now allows you to go through multiple different branching routes. On each floor that is a multiple of 5, the player will be given an option of continuing down the Item Growth Route which increases Item levels and makes special events such as Level Spheres appearing more common. The second route is called the Innocent Route which boosts innocents inside the item and makes special innocents appear. There is a third route, called the "Treasure Route" which is taken by alternating between Item Growth and Innocent Routes between floors. The Treasure Route increases odds of finding a treasure vault on a floor.
These routes are taken by entering a special gate for that route, one gate with a Sword icon for Item Growth and one with a smiley face for Innocent Route. There is also a new minimap called the Item Radar which keeps track of which route the player is going down and which floor special events happen. The minimap can be viewed by pressing the Triangle Button (opens up menu), and the number of events that appear on the minimap can be increased by the Item World Radar Evil Symbol.
The three different routes influence which pirates appear. Reverse Pirating has returned from Disgaea 3 but instead of choosing a premade ship, the player can create their own custom pirate ship for Reverse Pirating. Items can now be increased to Level 300 rather than 200 seen in past games. The amount of bills that can be passed for the Item Assembly has been increased to a maximum of 6 on a Legendary Item (If the player takes many Item Growth Gates).
Valvatorez is certainly a breath of fresh air after dealing with really annoying brats like Lahral, Etna and Mao. He has a strong sense of honor and loyalty and he always treats his subjects with respect. He is especially known for keeping his promises and he expects the same kind of integrity from his friends. At the end of the game, Valvatorez does not torture the main villain Nemo, he turns him into a prinny so that he could have the chance of redemption. Another character that demonstrates how demons could be very honorable is Axel, who uses his fame and status to help support his family. On the other hand, Disgaea 4 has more than its share of annoying characters.
The graphics have been upgraded and the animation looks very sharp and even more detailed. The anime cutscenes too by Uftoable are as good as ever. You can still change it to the older pixel styled for nostalgia purposes. The unique art style is as sharp and nicely drawn.
The overworld in the game functions just as same as before but with some new tweaks. A data shop has been included for you to check your progress during the game. You can now rearrange and change the appearance of Hades and you can assign any character to be the shopkeeper of the armor store.
Just as in the previous games, the more you visit the nurse, the more you aquire free special prizes. You can find treasure chests each time you visit a chapter scattered around the area and you can interact with denizens for tips on playing the game.
Introduced in this game are online features that uses the PlayStation network and it still is active even today. I have it turned off because I really did not want to be disrupted by any other player and because I value anonymity but here is how it works. Other players can invade your assembly with other Netherworld consults and they can either be against you or support you. You can create your own maps and have players or yourself play each other’s maps. Some other players may request items like food or equipment and if you have it, they will be in your favor most likely.
You can place symbols that give special bonuses to you and your party members just like the clubs in Disgaea 3. If you have a save file from Disgaea 3, you can unlock the hall monitor symbol which allows you to confiscate all items from the assembly members. You could also unlock it through other means.
Disgaea 4 introduces a punishment system. Various bonuses can be earned when you punish enemies like recruiting them, treasure maps being found on maps or taking their items. Keep in mind you could only recruit captured enemies when you have already unlocked their class instead of unlocking them right away which become tedious.
You can recruit and unlock new classes to join you, then you can choose their name and how good you want them to be based on the amount of currency you have, and what stats you would like to focus to boost. Some new classes appear in this game and some old classes make a return. A lot of post game content and replay value can be found. The land of carnage is back.
Much of the series flaws are also present. The artificial difficulty in this game is just as bad as in Disgaea 3. Enemies still spam attack the same overpowered skills over and over again. The weapons and armor shop are in two separate shops instead of one place. Padding and filler are just as horrendous as before where sometimes fights could have been avoided entirely. There are also moments of slow down due to the number of enemies in the map. There is also a DLC problem with basically all of the stuff you can get in the game you can get organically but it is basically a pay to have method. You don’t really fight the same boss as much as in Disgaea 3 but most of the enemies were re-skins of each other just with different stats and skills.
Overall, I enjoyed Disgaea 4. It gets 4 out of 5 stars.
My experience so far with the series is good and I am enjoying myself with the games that I have played. I still have to purchase Disgaea 2 but I am playing the 5th game in the series and I have a dvd copy of the anime adaptation of the first game.
There is a remastered version of it on the PS4 and the Switch but I would never call it a complete collection as its basically just a remastered version but with extra stuff. If you are a hardcore otaku that’s really into JRPGs, you will enjoy Disgaea 4.