Review by DarkAkatosh

"Ready for Operation Godlike Characters, dood?"

Getting to max level satisfy you? How about making your gear overpowered to what seems to be a ridiculous damage output - and even that isn't your full potential? Want to make monsters that are gargantuan in stature, and transform them into weapons? Want to use all that, and end up with a nasty area of effect attack that devastates anything it touches? Like grinding a lot?

That's Disgaea 4!

It's a SRPG of epic proportions, simply because the amount of stuff you can do in this game is a little bit on the ridiculous side. Most SRPG fans will ask about the story, since that's a crucial element to RPGs for a lot of people. And yes, there is a story. Valvatorez, a Prinny instructor does just that; train Prinnies, little demonic penguin creatures. Suddenly, the Prinnies are being taken away, and Valvatorez and his companion, demon-wolf-humanoid Fenrich investigate the matter. I for one didn't pay much attention to the story, as a personal preference of mine is to completely ignore the story and delve right into the gameplay. And, there's a lot to be had in terms of gameplay here.

It's a typical SRPG, which means top down, grid based movement. You deploy your units via a base panel, and meet the objective, which is usually to kill everything with a red bar below the sprite. It's typical SRPG fare. But what sets Disgaea 4 apart from other SRPGs is the sheer amount of potential you can train your characters to, and the amount of content in the game. First, I'll begin by explaining the part that you need to learn to love love and love if you want to progress deep into the game, the item world. After you beat the story, you enter the post game. To do well in the post game, you need to level up your items. This is done in the item world. It's a series of random dungeons and the further you go, the more your item levels up. Obviously, leveling up your item increases its stats. The fights in the late game will drop you dead if you don't have properly leveled gear, and leveling up just ONE item can take up to a couple of items. There is an item world for EVERY item in the game. That's a lot of content right there in and of itself.

And I'm not done. Disgaea is a series known for its heavy emphasis on character micromanagement, and there's a lot of it to be done. Characters have skills you can boost up to increase their damage. They also have evlilties, which is Disgaea lingo for abilities, which are added perks that affect your character and those around it. For example, an evility you can buy for one of the secret characters is to allow for them to increase their magic range by two at the increase of 50% more skill points used to cast that spell. There are hundreds of evilities to be had across the game, and it will take you lots of hours to discover them all, I promise you that. Done leveling to 9999? You can reincarnate your character and start him over at level 1 with stat retention. And do it again, and become a powerful killing machine feared throughout the Netherworld.

Next up is the Cam-Pain HQ, which looks like a board game when you enter it. It's where you place evil symbols, and you can stick a character in one of the panels next to the evil symbol and they'll get a bonus, such as earning 10% of the EXP of a member who defeats an enemy. But the main reason you'll be in the Cam-Pain HQ is to call the Senate, which is Disgaea's way of unlocking things. If you get a message saying "Gunner can now be suggested!" then the Gunner's bill appears in the list of Senate topics. You need approval from the Senate to be able to make a Gunner, as well as other certain character classes. In order to win the love of the Senate, you're going to have to bribe them with items until they turn to a favorable position concerning the bill you want to pass. Or, if you're a warmonger, you can just go ahead and kill the naysayers. Regardless, the Senate controls the stats of your items, the evil symbols you have access to, and the character classes you can create. So, to unlock a lot of the content, you need to win over the Senate and pass the unlockables' bills.

And there are lots of secrets in the game as well, such as a Character World, a ridiculously harder world where the monsters will wipe the floor with you even at high levels, and a puzzle-based reimagining of the story maps that will surely test your brain, and I triple dog dare you to try and beat all of these without a guide.

Conclusively, I can say that Disgaea 4 is a must play for everyone. This having been my first Disgaea game in a genre known for its steep learning curve and complexity, I can say it only took me a couple of hours to steer my characters in the right direction. As you progress through the game, you'll get a feel for all of the different things you can do and what stat affects what weapon. There are plenty of in-game tutorials for when you get confused. Disgaea 4 is an SRPG masterpiece that comes highly recommended to anyone. Oh, and by the way, there's even more stuff you can do in this game than what I mentioned. What is it? Buy the game and find out. You won't be disappointed.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/09/12

Game Release: Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten (US, 09/06/11)

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