The Disgaea series originally launched in 2003 on the PlayStation 2 with Disgaea: Hour of Darkness that received positive reviews for its creative gameplay and comical characters. The direct sequel, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness came out on the PlayStation 3 that also received praise from critics that solidified theDisgaea series in the competitive strategy RPG market. More Disgaea titles in the series were released over the years including Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten and Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance. After more than a decade, Disgaea fans can rejoice as NIS America has brought the original title back with Disgaea PC on Steam.
The story takes place two years after the death of the demon overlord Krichevskoy with the Netherworld in chaos as demons fight for rule of the throne. The demon prince, Laharl awakens from a deep sleep after numerous attempts to wake him from his castle vassal, Etna. Vowing to take the throne as its rightful heir, Laharl and Etna travels to another castle and defeats the demon Vyers before meeting Flonne, an angel trainee. After learning Krichevskoy is dead, Flonne agrees to join Laharl and Etna to learn more about demons and assess their capability to feel genuine emotions like friendship and love. Throughout the game, Laharl will team up with unlikely allies in his quest to reclaim the throne from demon usurpers and solidify his rule as the true demon overlord.
Gameplay evolves around the standard grid-based system used to manage your team members’ strategic positions, equipment and mission objectives. Each character may equip up to four items comprised of a single weapon and three other items like equipment or armor. Character items, equipment and accessories are available for purchase at the Rosen Queen Company Netherworld Branch. At the Netherworld Hospital, wounds can be healed for a fee while claiming prizes for the amount of HP and SP recovered. As the NPC character Silvia put it best, it encourages players to get “thrashed in battle”. Items acquired, use or discarded are kept on record books and archives that are useful as a guide for players who want detailed information about inventory items. Corridale serves as the Dimensional Gatekeeper who transports your party members to your next destination. Saving your game can be done anytime at the Overlord Castle prior to missions as you strategically prepare your team for combat.
Combat begins by selecting characters to dispatch from the base panel and moving them on the grid-based map to attack, defend or hold their position. Commands issued to characters are performed when the “Execute” or “End of Turn” is chosen on the battlefield. A combo or team-based attack can be unleashed if two characters attack a targeted enemy in the same vicinity. If a team member falls in battle, they can be revived by paying “Hell” at the Overlord Castle to rejoin your party. The Prinny Squad comprised of loyal penguins serve as the comical highlight that speak and end their sentences with “dood!”. This is sure to put a smile or laugh on many a fans’ faces who consider themselves Prinny fans with a badge of honor.
The humor in this game is whimsical, silly and charming with each character displaying a unique personality with their habits and quirks. In contrast to many games today, the jokes in Disgaea are amusing and clean that is void of any crude or vulgar remarks. This was a time in the gaming industry when video games showcasing gratuitous violence or sex were less rampant as more emphasis was placed on storytelling and gameplay mechanics. It is refreshing to see a solid SRPG with a healthy dose of nostalgia and retro charm makes its way over to Steam for the PC gaming community to enjoy and for newcomers to experience. Strategy fans who have played titles like Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem or Tactics Ogrewill feel right at home with Disgaea PC.
Visually, the characters look polished during dialogue as your party members converse with backgrounds looking artistic and colorful. Compared to the original game, the graphics received a fresh coat of paint but specific NPCs appear to be blurry and less detailed at the Demon Overlord castle. Considering Disgaeawas released in 2003, the game’s chibi sprites have not aged well and are not as visually appealing as some fans may remember. Musically, the game is filled with hilarious, comical and whimsical music that perfectly fits the atmosphere of the game as you conquer other demons and fight strategically and skillfully on the battlefield.
Disgaea PC is an enjoyable SRPG title that is unfortunately held back by the graphical bugs and framerate issues at launch. To their credit, NIS America has been quick to respond through bug reports and forum updates to the Steam community. Despite these issues, Disgaea PC is a charming and nostalgic game that is sure to strike a chord with strategy RPG fans. It is recommended that players use a game controller as the mouse controls tends to be shaky. Once the necessary patches and upgrades are available on Steam, fans should pick up Disgaea PC to enjoy the first game in the whimsical and classic Disgaea series.
SCORE – 75%
This review is based on a digital copy of Disgaea PC on Steam provided by NIS America