The best way I can describe Disgaea is that it’s a really difficult tactical JRPG that has the same aesthetic and narrative qualities of an early 2000’s anime that’s been fandubbed.
Now, this game is pretty great because the example I used is something that I would absolutely love so don’t go thinking I’m dissing it or anything.
Disgaea 1 Complete is a remaster of Disgaea Hour of Darkness which was originally on the PlayStation 2 – The game quickly garnered a huge cult following, earning 5 other games along with it and a couple of spin-offs here and there, so this remaster is perfect for people who want to get into this series and see what it’s all about – Much like myself – As well as series veterans who would like to play the first one again with a fresh new coat of paint.
…And boy does this new coat of paint look good. Sure the limited animation stays as it does with most JRPGS like this, but the visual style and artwork in this game are incredible. Character designs are interesting and really fun to look at, as well as the enemies you fight and recruit later on. If you for some reason, cannot like this game for its other qualities, I’m sure the visual style is going to be the one thing that sticks with you.
The other thing that’ll probably stick with you is the really cute story – You play as Laharl, the son of the Overlord of the Netherworld who has actually passed away – Laharl is the heir to the throne but because he overslept a couple years on his nap, other demons are fighting to steal the throne and become the new Overlord… But because Laharl is a stubborn asshole he’s gonna show the demons of the Netherworld who’s boss while causing a ruckus in his path to becoming the Overlord.
He’s accompanied by Etna, a cheeky demon who I’ve seen ungodly amounts of “artwork” of before I even knew what a Disgaea was – She’s the one who actually woke Laharl up from his nap, and sticks with him throughout the story – Along with a large number of memorable characters, it’s definitely easy to see why the series has such a huge following.
Now let’s talk about that gameplay. The gameplay is grid-based, kinda like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics, and makes consistent use of different elevation levels and modifiers scattered throughout the map – Each character needs to get close to the enemy to attack and do all that fun stuff; characters who are close to one enemy have a chance of doing a cool little combo attack for big damage. The interesting bit in this game is getting new party members – You can hire them using a type of currency you get while fighting in missions called Mana. You then create what type of party member you want like a Warrior, or a Fighter or a Cleric; each class has a different proficiency with a different kind of weapon and so on and so forth and the fun bit is that you can have an absolute shitload of party members and level them and yourself up to extravagant levels. The cap being 9999 I believe… But the big levels come in the late to end game so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
You have this other cool little place where you can farm like cray called the Item World; you basically take an item from your inventory and use it to enter a randomly generated infinite mission, which is a really cool concept for farming. The rarer the item the more difficult it’ll be, and most of the time it is pretty great but the problem is that sometimes due to the random generation the tile which you need to get to the next floor is in an unreachable place… And it’s happened to me once but it was after I was pretty far in there, so having to restart was a huge bummer.
I’ll also say this, this game is not fucking around. It is a hardcore tactical JRPG through and through, and it will kick your ass if you aren’t prepared or if you were expecting just a cakewalk where you walk up, smack the enemy a couple times, take a couple hits and win. You will get one shotted… And this game will not forgive you not even in the beginning. Some would call it that Dark So– nevermind. It’s tough so if that’s your cup of tea jump in.
As for it being on the Switch, well, I don’t think anyone should ever have a complaint about a long grindy RPG that is playable both on the big screen and on a handheld. It’s literally the best of both worlds – It’s not like this game is pushing the boundaries of modern video game technology so the Switch can run it with no problems at all.
Disgaea 1 Complete is a really fun, colorful, and often times difficult game, but I’m glad this came out when it did as it’s made me want to explore the other games in the series. Definitely get this if you have a Switch.
I’d give Disgaea 1 Complete an: