Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is a spin off from the main games and a direct sequel to Disgaea 1. It takes place a few years later after Disgaea 1. Lahral is the overlord but no one respects his rule as he has become even more insufferable and is a poor ruler. As a result, the Kchrosvky group, a set of loyalists who believed that Lahral’s father King Kchrovsky is the true leader of the Netherworld, seek to overthrow him. Lahral discovers the plot to overthrow him and he not only wants to destroy the Kchrosvky Group but grab even more power and conquer other parts of the Netherworld. Meanwhile, strange flowers appear in both the Netherworld and Celestia and is causing strange effects to the populace. Laharal and company must find out what is causing it and what it means.
Gameplay is more or less the same as before: leveling up to 9999, having extremely high stats and inflicting massive damage. The combat is turn based where you and your party members fight enemies in a map. If you and allies are targeting the same enemy you can create a combo. You can select which command and skills you would like to use. Leveling up skills functions the same way as in Disgaea 1 where you have to repeatedly use a skill to increase its power.
You can unlock new classes by completing certain parameters and leveling up your characters in said class. You can even choose their personality and it comes with a special bonus that helps them in combat and you can choose the color they have and you can have the choice to keep the color they are in while promoting the class to their more powerful variant. You can form towers and this would not result in any loss of health.
Enemies are more or less the same: some are reskins and some return from previous games and some new ones appear. Spam attacks, a shared problem the series has, is back and in this case during my playthroughs, it was mostly paralyzing or poison effects. Geo pyramids are back and function the same as before with cheap tactics to make combat harder. The story is similar to other Disgaea games and there's also filler and the occasional repeated boss fight.
The graphics are generally good with some occasional pixellation while the visual art style is as vibrant as ever. This is part of a recent move for the series transitioning from pixellation to hd sprites. Studio Hibari did the animation for the opening of the game and it looks really good.
Much of the innovations in Disgaea 5 came from this game. The user interface has been massively overhauled to be more sleek and easier to understand. The cheat shop is introduced and it allows you to change certain attributes like lowering the gain rate of something, to raise the gain rate of something else. Other changes that enemies and players will have substantially increased HP and SP beyond 10 billion or more, up to 99 billion. The cap can also be increased further due to the new Rasetsu which gives all enemies a new stat multiplier. The player can gain a very small percentage of the enemy's stats when he defeats enemies in the Land of Carnage mode.
Stronger Enemies bills have been changed to a Cheat Shop feature and can be changed freely. Throwing is not limited to throwing straight similar to a Gun's range, but the character can now throw freely within his range similar to the range of a Bow. The Item Bag and Warehouse have been merged into one, with different categories for each Item. The player can have up to 999 Items.
The Item World has been renamed to the Item Sea, with changes to Mystery Rooms, Item Assemblies and the inclusion of Bonus Stages which replace Reverse Pirating. With Item Assemblies, you can pay a certain amount of money to alter stats for equipment and if it goes through you will receive bonuses for your items. Mystery rooms are just the same where either you could end up unlucky or lucky as they are randomized.
Stages are generated randomly like before, but the ally Base Panel is located on a Pirate Ship. The player will always start on a Pirate Ship on every floor, and their Pirate Ship can be changed to other Pirate Ships they have obtained. The player now starts off in Innocent Town when entering the Item World on the floor they left. The player pass an Item Assembly bill with HL instead of Mana and these bills may be passed any time. Reverse Pirating has been changed to Bonus Stages where the player has a chance to loot Innocents or gain a Level Sphere after clearing the stage. Unlike Reverse Pirating, any characters not on the Pirate Ship will not die after the turn limit for the Bonus Stage has expired. The player will advance to the next stage as normal. Bonus Stages can appear on any floor (except boss floors) but most commonly appear on Floor 25, 51, and 76. There is a limit of 3 Bonus Stages per 100 floors.
Item Growth and Innocent Routes are now a toggleable features in the Cheat Shop. After the player clears all floors in the Item World of an item, the item's initial floor will reset to Floor 1 and the rarity will be upgraded from Common to Rare or Rare to Legendary. Item Route becomes much more effective as it raises Kill Bonus gained from killing enemies, and stat bonuses from killing Item Bosses, and Pirates. The player can also enter any Item even if it is already max level. If a player turns off Rasetsu Mode, the stats of any Item they leveled beyond the normal cap will return to the normal cap in Normal Mode. This can be reverted by switching back to Rasetsu Mode.
While unfortunately you have to quit the entire game to start over an entire battle, it introduces the ability to skip lengthy skill animations. Magichange has been replaced with mounting as a beast type enemy and a humanoid. The monster type enemy takes damage for the humanoid and while mounting, they can use a special skill attack to deal massive damage to enemies.
Relationship building, called likability, is another aspect in the game. Doing things like defending and healing your allies will increase their likability and increases power of counter attacks and mounting skills .
Rosen co. has been overhauled. It is not randomized like in the previous games and the more you purchase, the higher quality items appear. The demon dojo is a new feature where you can assign a character to train in a certain area to increase their stats and as they level up, you can add new members to join up the regimen and they too benefit from the stat increases.
Weapon Mastery has returned from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness and Cursed Memories. A new feature is that players can raise the rank of a Character's Weapon Mastery when creating a character, or determine a mage/skull's Elemental Affinity. Skill Boosting has been removed which allows for a more balanced damage formula like in Disgaea 1 and 2.
The dark assembly functions just the same where you could bribe senators with items and pass bills. Just like in Disgaea 5 it introduces a party member from your team to bring the chance to make the bills you proposed go through. Sometimes if it doesn’t go through you have the chance to bribing them with money.
Bills can be passed and Legendary skills can be bought with Hell instead of Mana. The player can change the character that they use to move around the base instead of being limited to Laharl. Land of Carnage is now unlocked after beating the game as a feature in the Cheat Shop rather than being a separate world.
The X-Dimension/Dark World does not return in Disgaea D2.
There is a more detailed movement grid to help you plan your moves out and a provided description for the effect of each Innocent. An Innocent Warehouse has been added, allowing the storage of multiple Innocents. Innocents are allies you encounter in the item sea and subduing them allows you to use their power while in combat.
The only character in the game that I liked is Xenolith. He's certainly a breath of fresh air for villains in the series as all of them are just evil and one dimensional and power hungry. While he is not purely evil and malicious, he is patient and calculating and plans ahead. He's also the best voice acted character in the entire game.
The musical score is basically the same songs from many of the previous games plus a few new hard rock oriented battle songs which sounds really good. The game is now one of my favorite entries of Disgaea right behind Disgaea 5 in terms of gameplay.
It gets about 4 stars out of 5.
This game is purely for hardcore JRPG, anime and Disgaea fans.