It’s been a while since I’ve participated in the land of Disgaea, where demons and explosive penguins fight turn-based, tactical battles to see who’s the biggest baddie of all in Hell. An entertaining series, Disgaea’s games have always delivered something to me, that’s missing in a lot of SRPGs: heart. There’s brilliance and hilarity in the writing, there’s a lot of strategy in the moments between missions, and there’s arguably an attraction to the entire cast of characters that comes with the universe (Prinny’s are probably one of my favourite things ever). However, I was not a Sony person: I straight up missed the entire PS3 and 4 generations, and probably will miss 5 unless there’s something utterly compelling to drag me in. So it’s only when Disgaea games get ports that I have time to delve into them. Thus why my experiences have been only 1 and 5, aka the only Switch ports to date. This time around, though, I’m trying my hand at the PC. I’m seeing what the latest and greatest in PS3 to PC ports brings with the whopping 7GB install of Disgaea 4 Complete+ Edition.
It’s another weird and wild journey into the land of Disgaea with Disgaea 4 Complete+ Edition. This time, our main character is Valvatorez, former tyrannical leader of the Netherworld who is now busted down to Prinny sorting because of an unbroken oath to not drink human blood. Valvatorez is a vampire, of sorts, and without human blood, he’s reduced to eating sardines, and if that doesn’t set the tone of this game I don’t know what else will. Prinnys are the biggest mascot of the Disgaea franchise, so to have the plot focus so much about their department in the Netherworld is exciting unto itself. Prinnys are the souls of criminals who died and are now in evil, exploding penguin bodies until their sins are forgiven (which is an odd time to try to figure out). The evil governing body of the Netherworld, the Corrupternment, wants to shut down Prinny production, and Valvatorez needs to keep it going to save his job (and also have any shot of existing). What’s a vampire to do but to try to win popular opinion through charming the masses and getting a majority vote to keep the Prinny base alive and well. If that sounds boring, I should have mentioned you’ll do it through massive, incredibly complex combat. That was important, sorry.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ Edition is an SRPG like previous titles in the series, meaning you’ll have a group of party members of different jobs and classes that you move around a slightly isometric board to perform different actions (attack, defend, items, spells, etc.). The charm of Disgaea always comes from the unique approaches and job classes that you find within this game, due to the nature of the spirit of it all. Sure, you’ve got Mages and Gunners, but you’ve also got Beast Masters, Ninjas, Shamans and all manner of solidary classes for specific characters (of which there is a TON). You can also capture enemy units and then torture them until they “re-educate” and join your cause, which should be problematic, but whatever, it’s the Netherworld. Units on the field can combine together to do fusion attacks of sorts, and the fun doesn’t end just because your troops are “strong.” They can become “stupidly strong” with a level cap of 9999 and plenty of balancing to help make sure new characters that you recruit are incorporated to your party without needing to insulate them and power level through sheer gumption.
The fun doesn’t end on the combat field either. Disgaea 4 Complete+ Edition also has moments of insanity outside of combat: remember, this is technically a political movement. This means you get to vote and influence senators who decide and make proclamations about the Netherworld outside of fighting, which involves some amount of subterfuge and bravado, but also wanton violence if the vote looks like it’s not going the way it should be. There’s not AS much outside of combat as some people might like, but there are tons in terms of customizing your main hub (make Hades the way you want it!) and taking an ungodly amount of time to really select which weapons, armour, accessories and what party will make the most impact within the game world.
Now, there’s an argument to be had if you’ve never played Disgaea before to just play 5. Technically, it’s the newest in the series, it’s cheaper than 4 Complete+ currently, and it has a full, amazing storyline that doesn’t need Disgaea 4 in order to appreciate. Then again, if you’re just looking for a taste of Disgaea in general, one could also argue to grab the first one on Steam, because it’s three bucks and will give you the “gist” of what Disgaea is all about. However, Complete+ Edition is not a simple port, and the devil is in the details (almost literally). First and foremost, this is a totally overhauled version of the game, with the sounds being touched up and the graphics blasted up to a full 1080p support. It looks amazing on my computer, and I’ve told everyone again and again that my video card was old when I bought it four years ago and still is pretty out of date. Yet my i3 POS used computer is still displaying a shocking number of sprites on screen, giving me full, robust animations for all the attacks, Magichanges and other insane elements of the game. Clearly, this is beefed for better computers, but still optimized for slower, older ones.
More importantly, Disgaea 4 Complete+ Edition has a lot of quality of life improvements that 5 originally invented and now NIS has back ported to this older game. Bribing senators to change their votes has never been easier! Characters adjust and are scaled when they finally come online, allowing you to pick up the fight with Ash, Adell, Asuka or any other number of characters. Plus, the Cheat Shop exists IF you want to go down that path. I won’t lie that including micro transactions isn’t my favourite, but it’s totally optional, avoidable and certainly not a nagging presence within the game. Adding the Innocents from Disgaea 5 to 4 allows for better item customization and buffing against the more difficult battles. Not to mention the game, overall, is just buttery smooth and moves forward with no hiccups.
As you may have guessed, “Complete” also nods towards a massive amount of DLC, including the additional characters, additional necromancer and medic class, Pirate Tournament and all the excellent, enjoyable map-making abilities. That’s probably my favourite part of Disgaea 4 Complete+: being able to craft your own stages and set them up to see how you fare against imaginary battles and situations. At some point in the future, NIS has confirmed there will be online battling as well, BUT that is not currently accessible. I’m certain that it’ll be down the pipelines soon enough, but players are welcome to hold off if that’s a make-or-break situation for you.
Yet it really is the charm of the overall Disgaea series that helps make Disgaea 4 Complete+ Edition such a joy. The battles can be lengthy, but exciting as you grit your teeth and try to keep the last of your troops alive in strategic mayhem. The conversations between Valvatorez with Fenrich, Fuka, Desco and others is positively hilarious, and there’s been a great casting on NIS’ part to get good English voices in the mix (though the option to revert to Japanese voices is always appreciated!). You really get embroiled in the entire upheaval, and, once all is said and done, the post-game content is positively sprawling. Plenty of extra maps, the compelling need to max level characters, and the potential for versus with other players in the very near future is rewarding and rich, and promises that this may be the strongest installation of the series yet. If you want to mix it up in the SRPG world and have a laugh while goggling at batshit insane damage attacks, then it’s time to go straight to Hell. Oh, and please, bring some sardines.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Disgaea 4 Complete+ Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
User Review( votes)
Quite simply, the best the Disgaea series has to offer so far, elevating and electrifying the experience with better QOL, more replay and all the DLC.