Review: Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
Disgaea can be a tough nut to crack. I still remember how overwhelming it all felt when I first started with the series and that was seven years ago. So many mechanics have been added throughout each new entry that, with Disgaea 5 especially, it’s getting hard to keep track of every option available to you. As I progressed through Disgaea 5’s main story I was continually surprised to see just how much new stuff was packed into this entry. There’s plenty of new systems to pick at for series vets, but I also got the sense that this game is far more approachable than any other entry in the series. This entry not only goes bigger than any Disgaea before, but it also plays it smarter. A number of new additions make things far more convenient than ever before and far more approachable. I personally feel that each new Disgaea game is the “best” in terms of game mechanics and that doesn’t change here. Disgaea 5 is the best Disgaea experience and easiest to get into for newcomers.
The main story this time around focuses purely on a cast of Overlords. Each of them, for their own reasons, are out for revenge against another Overlord that’s seeking the destruction of all Netherworlds. The story now stretches across 16 chapters instead of the usual 10. (That said it still took around the same time to finish the story for me compared to other games. The chapters can be a little shorter than usual.) The new cast of characters are mostly fine, but with this being my fourth Disgaea game it’s starting to matter less and less. It’s still as weird and goofy as ever and yet it’s hard to really care too much about most of the story characters. They just feel like new versions of characters we’ve already seen before. Seraphina feels like a lesser version of Etna.
One of the biggest new additions to the game this time around comes in the form of a Revenge meter. Whenever a character/ally takes damage the Revenge meter fills. When in Revenge mode that character has access to a special Overload ability that is unique to them. (One character grows exponentially larger and gains a 40% stat increase for three turns.) Allies and Enemies can enter Revenge mode and will each gain a small stat boost. Defeating an enemy in Revenge mode yields a special stat shard that can then be used to increase the stats of any character on your team. The video below should demonstrate how important these shards can be:
In a series first monster characters can now throw other characters around the board. The catch being that it has to be done in one turn. (The monster can’t lift and hold that character.) It’s a nice addition and proves useful in a number of fights. Additionally multiple monsters can now combine into a single weapon resulting in even better stats. Other changes include new weapon resistances for characters, a new Star element, characters automatically upgrade to the next class tier instead of needing to reincarnate, character specific evilities, you can cook curry to gain limited time stat boosts, there’s an Innocent Farm (Pokemon Daycare), and many other smaller changes.
Disgaea’s Item World has seen some changes as well. Just completing one stage might increase the item level, but the Bonus List at the end of that stage could include four other Lvl +1 rewards. Rabbit Monster and Level Spheres will also show up randomly to grant specific rewards if defeated. Meanwhile the Chara Worlder now leads to a new board game similar to something like Mario Party (without the mini-games). The Chara World allows you to train a specific character to get a number of different stat bonuses, increase weapon proficiency, move distance, learn evilities, etc. The video below should give a decent walkthrough of the Chara World:
There’s a lot to digest with any Disgaea game and D5 adds a surprising amount of new mechanics to that mix. There’s a danger of adding too much, but I think Disgaea 5 handles all of its new additions really well. Everything new mixes in with old mechanics really well and it all comes together to make a far more enjoyable experience. The Quest System, Chara Worlder, Netherworld Research, Squads, customization options, Evilities, Revenge system, and a better UI overall makes for the best game in the series. Despite the overwhelming amount of content (there’s still so much I haven’t seen after 50+ hours) it still feels like this might be the most approachable the series has been in a long time. Many of the changes help to improve the quality of life for the player. I think it’s easier to understand some of the crazier mechanics, the improved Innocent management helps with that, and the UI overhaul itself goes a long way. Disgaea is also good about introducing new concepts at a steady pace. In Disgaea 5 specifically I found myself excited to complete a new story chapter just to see what NEW thing would unlock.
Disgaea 5 is the best game in the series to date. I might prefer the story/characters in other games sure, but the game mechanics have never been more refined and fun to break.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Chara World
- Quest System
- Revenge Mode
- Innocent Farm
- ...and so many other new changes to the game
What I Dislike:
- Not a fan of the default hub song (luckily you can change it)
- I don't feel strongly about the characters/story this time