Disgaea 5 Complete is every bit as wacky and off the wall as its box art suggests. In the craziness, though, is a refined system of excellent combat and entertaining characters. It is the fifth entry in the Disgaea series and is a port of Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance on the PS4, but with all of the previously released DLC.
Despite having never played a single game in the franchise, I was enamored with Disgaea 5 Complete's structure and take on the RPG genre. It's crazy and insane in all of the best ways. The game isn't perfect but deserves a spot on your Switch library.
Disgaea 5 Complete is available now for purchase on Amazon.
For all of Disgaea 5 Complete's crazy nuances, the story was the only part that didn't follow suit. From the very beginning, there was a disconnect between the game's presentation and the narrative. That's not to say the story was bad, but it certainly left much to be desired. The basic issue here is that it doesn't do anything unique like the rest of the game. It involves a brooding protagonist who wants revenge on a dark emperor who is slowly taking over the world. It's a paint by numbers scenario. That said, Disgaea 5 Complete tells a self-contained story that makes it easy for newcomers to get involved.
The story didn't leave me completely disinterested. The characters themselves were the emotional glue that held everything together. From Killia's love of making curry to Red Magnus's overuse of the word "super," everyone had their own little quirks that helped them stand out while telling the story (including many of the enemies). Sometimes the jokes told with specific characters overstayed their welcome, but it was overall a fun dynamic.
It would be remiss of me to not mention that Disgaea 5 Complete also uses gorgeous anime-style cutscenes to help tell the story at times. They add an extra dimension of wonder and fantasy to the already unbelievable premise. Eat your heart out, anime fans.
Fans of the Disgaea series will know exactly what to expect with Disgaea 5 Complete. All of the battles run on isometric maps. Each one is divided into individual squares. From there you move each of your characters to plan your strategy and take down the bad guys. It's a simple concept to understand at face value, especially considering that the game doesn't offer many new ideas when compared to other entries in the series.
That said, the battle system is more than just moving and fighting. Each character has a class and optional subclass that changes which weapons work most effectively with them. Each enemy also has different weaknesses to certain spells and equipment, forcing you to always look at the bad guys before planning your attack. Then when taking down enemies, characters can team up to do stronger attacks, or spend their mana to do class-unique moves for some extra damage. If your warriors take enough damage, then they will go into Revenge Mode, which offers increased Crit chance and a powerful Overload ability that can tip the scales in your favor without being overpowered.
One particular aspect of Disgaea 5 Complete that really caught me by surprise was the "Execute" phase. After you place your characters where you want them and select what attack you want them to do, they won't automatically fight. Instead, you hit the "Execute" button for them to act. However, this doesn't end your turn. As a matter of fact, you can move one character, tell them to attack, select Execute, and then do the same for each and every single character. This mechanic seemed like cheating (especially for how the genre is typically structured), but when the enemies start getting more difficult and your army grows to a ridiculous size, you'll be glad that it's there.
The game also offers you plenty of options outside of battle as well. While there isn't much of an overworld in Disgaea 5 Complete, the "Pocket Netherworld" that you walk around is armed to the teeth with Equipment, Skill, Squad, Recruit, and Item shops. You can even change the rules of the game themselves by meeting with the Strategy Assembly. Characters can also be leveled up all the way to 9999 and then reset to level 1 for better stat bonuses. There is no shortage of things to do in Disgaea 5 Complete, and it's a formula that will keep you busy for hours on end, but you might be grinding for many of those hours.
However, all of this variety presents the biggest problem of this game. There is a lot of depth. While many of the concepts presented in the beginning of the game are fairly standard with strategy RPGs, it quickly adds new options for battle and activities to do in the overworld that all feature a complexity that will make even fans of the genre overwhelmed. It took me at least 10 hours before I began to understand how everything worked, and even then I still have a lot of questions because the game doesn't even explain many of these mechanics very well. I was slogging through menus after menus after menus trying to gain a hold on it all, but I've still got a lot to learn.
Despite there being complexity to the game, that doesn't stop it from being a fun time. These mechanics are all welcome additions to the strategy once you understand how they function. After spending several days with the game, you'll be hopping through the Pocket Netherworld, conducting strategy meetings, interrogating Lost soldiers, and bringing new and powerful warriors into your army.
Graphics and audio
While Disgaea 5 Complete takes a lot of inspiration from anime, that doesn't necessarily bleed into how the game looks. I'll be upfront about it: this game's graphics will not impress you. Nippon Ichi decided to place more emphasis into how the game plays rather than how it looks. It takes a pixelated and minimalistic art style as a result. That's not to say the game looks bad by any means, but it won't blow any minds.
However, this art style allows the game to shine in a different aspect: the presentation. Disgaea 5 Complete knows that it's one of the craziest games on the market, and it reminds you at every moment. Bright and crazy animations will follow each character. Prinnies pull double blades out of their pockets, Killia punches people into the air then body slams them into the ground, and Usalia rides a giant yellow penguin ball into battle. When doing team attacks, squad attacks, or anything involving more than one character, you're always treated to some of the most over the top animations I've seen in a video game. Characters will throw each other for extra damage, team up to fire energy lasers, or just charge straight through an opposing army. While graphically there isn't much to look at, the movement will keep your eyes glued to the screen.
Because of Disgaea 5 Complete taking this approach to its visuals, the game is perfectly suited for the Nintendo Switch. You never feel like you're losing anything by playing in handheld mode, and the game still looks great on the screen. The colors pop more on the TV, but that's to be expected.
In terms of the audio, you'll be pleased but not impressed. While the anime cutscenes and the title theme feature intense and jazzy musical scores, the same can't be said for the rest of the game. All of the music functions more as ambiance rather than the focus of your attention (which might be a good thing considering how complex the game is). It also gets a bit old hearing the same theme in the Pocket Netherworld over and over again.
The main triumph of the audio is regarding the characters. Each character, from the main heroes to the weakest enemies, are all fully voice acted with unique personas. For the most part, each line is delivered successfully and in character. It adds a level of understanding for each person that would be lost if it were only text on a screen. That said, I guarantee you'll get annoyed with the dialogue at times simply because of how much of it there is. At times, you'll only play one battle in 30 minutes of game time because of the amount of speaking. While it's optional to skip, you'll lose the character interaction and narrative along the way.
It has its hiccups and slow points, but Disgaea 5 Complete is a pure joy to play. Featuring over the top battles, exciting characters, and endless possibilities, there's enough here to keep you playing for hours on end. The game fits perfectly on Nintendo Switch, with it being easier than ever to pick it up and play a battle while you're not at home. Admittedly, the game isn't for everyone and will turn some people off with its sheer amount of content. However, those who like the genre will have a blast and should consider picking up this game. Even its $60 price tag is justified with days of content, all of the DLC, and the capability to play whenever and wherever you want.
|+ Entertaining Characters||– Too Much Dialogue|
|+ Excellent Battle Mechanics||– Overly Complicated|
|+ Hours of Content|
|+ Perfect Fit for the Switch|