Review: Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention
Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is best described as the complete version of Disgaea 3. Absence of Detention brings the base Disgaea 3 package to the Vita with all of the DLC included (over $50’s worth of content), 2 new characters, new scenarios, new features, Vita specific capabilities and 2 Disgaea 4 characters. This game is packed with more content than you’ll ever know what to do with. So much content in fact that even after the 45+ hours I spent with the game over this past week I still feel like I’m just starting to scratch the surface of what Absence of Detention has to offer.
The premise behind Disgaea 3 is that Mao, the son of the Overlord, has decided that he’s going to become the ultimate Hero in order to defeat his father and become Overlord of the Netherworld himself. This decision comes from the fact that his dad stepped on his video game console causing him to lose thousands of hours of gameplay. What you’ll find is that the characters you meet throughout the main story are incredibly well developed. This goes for any Disgaea game I’ve played as well. I can’t think of one character that I actively dislike. Disgaea 3 has a hilarious cast in a world that is absolutely absurd and even though I’ve played this game four years ago I still found myself laughing to each joke and just simply enjoying each and every moment. While I enjoy Disgaea 3 a little more than other games in the series it’s one of few series in general that I always look forward to spending time with.
If you haven’t played Disgaea before don’t let any preconceived notions about the game scare you off. There’s a really complex battle system within and its a rather steep learning curve that you’ll need to tackle eventually but luckily I’ve always found Disgaea to be pretty easy to get into. Perhaps most importantly is the fact that the main quest itself will not require you to grind out thousands of levels or learn every little thing you can about the gameplay systems in Disgaea. It’s actually really easy to breeze through the main quest and just enjoy yourself without worrying about digging too deep into each mechanic within the game. Your first time through will take around forty hours and by that time, with all the extra content then unlocked, you should be comfortable enough with each of the game’s mechanics to really delve deep into the difficult parts of the game. The side content that unlocks in the game’s epilogue will require you to use different strategies and power level a strong team of characters. Eventually you’ll be dealing millions of damage points with hundreds of hours under your belt. One downside however for those who have played through the game on PS3 is that this side content isn’t unlocked until you’ve finished the main quest. It’s especially crappy for players who just want to check out the new content that’s been added this time around.
Aside from the new content Absence of Detention has seen quite a few new additions that are very much welcome. Honor Quotient is a new measure of how you’re playing throughout the game. The HQ will increase with each map you complete as well as depending on how far you travel with your Vita. Having a higher HQ will effect the types of deals you’ll have at shops among other things. The Database enables you to look into your gameplay stats in excruciating detail. You’ll be able to see the percentage unlocked of every weapon type, magic type, evilities, characters etc. In addition the Database keeps track of how many hours you’ve played, damage dealt, number of times you’ve completed the game and more. You can also connect to PSN and look up the stats of other players. For instance I was able to see the stats of one player who had logged 30 hours into the game with a character above level 600. (Clearly they know what they’re doing.) Other additions include new sprite animations during cut-scenes, battle animations are played the first time even if you have animations turned off and Game Over now takes you to the Infirmary instead of the Title Screen. This in particular is really convenient since there’s literally no loading while you play the game. Game Overs not resulting in lost progress also mean that you retain any levels you’ve gained even if you lose the battle.
Absence of Detention feels at home on the Vita. It’s great for short bursts or extended play sessions and rewarding you for traveling around with your Vita gives a good incentive to bring it with you. Unfortunately the touch control that’s been added to the game is nothing but terribly disappointing. Due to the style of game Disgaea is I figured that touch controls could possibly add a really cool new way to play the game. This isn’t the case at all. Tapping the back touch on the top left or top right is used to zoom in and out while dragging across the front screen in a battle can move the camera around. You can also navigate some menus with touch control and interact with characters in the hub world but it’s all so terribly imprecise. Early on I thought that touch controls were turned off by default just due to the fact that I had such a hard time getting them to work. Touching the top corners of the back touch to zoom in and out is clever but at the same time it seemed like I never could figure out the exact position to tap and get it to work consistently. Ultimately I ended up turning off the touch controls and sticking completely to the buttons. The game controls totally fine this way but it’s just too bad that the touch controls seemed to have been tacked on when everything else in the game is still so great.
I think it speaks to the quality of the game that four years later I’m able to have a better time with Disgaea 3 than I did before. Every time I pick up a new Disgaea game I find it difficult not to get engrossed in the story and its characters. The fact that the absurdity of the situation these characters find themselves in is able to bleed into a gameplay system that sees you grinding to levels upwards of 9999 and dealing millions of points of damage is simply amazing. It might not have a large following but every time I make a return to Disgaea it’s always clear to me why people love it so much. It’s an incredibly deep and time consuming game that, if you’re willing to put the time and effort into it, is always incredibly rewarding. You’ll also be hard pressed to find a cast of characters that’s as entertaining as the cast from Disgaea 3.
It’s easy to brush something like this off as a four year old game ported to a handheld but Absence of Detention is much more than that. It serves as a complete version of a spectacular game with enough content to last you for a really long time. Simply put Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is yet another great Vita game to add to the library and one of few games that I’m anxious to return to day in and day out.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
What I Like:
- Disgaea 3 features an imaginative world with a great cast of characters.
- Every piece of DLC and new content included in this game makes for more content than I can handle.
- Despite playing this game four years ago I still found myself laughing at all the jokes and just really enjoying another forty hours with a great cast of characters.
- Honor Quotient and Database additions are really great to see.
- As is the case with Disgaea games it works really well on a handheld device.
What I Dislike:
- Touch controls feel tacked on.
- Locking all side content until after the main quest might steer away those who have already played through the game multiple times.