Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is an upgraded Vita port of its 2011 predecessor, A Promise Unforgotten. Disgaea 4 encompasses all of the elements of previous titles in the series, and sticks to its SRPG roots. NIS adhering to their typical formula is not a bad thing, and Disgaea 4’s quirky cast and addictive battle system is proof of that. Care for some delicious sardines? Valvatorez will keep that joke running throughout the entire game.
Speaking of the former tyrant of the Netherworld, Valvatorez is easily my favorite Disgaea protagonist yet. His banter amongst himself, Fenrich, and fallen prinny friend rarely makes sense in that bizarre Disgaea fashion. Yet the mercurial nature of the overlord and his comrades is consistent, and stays pretty entertaining throughout the game.
This is the essence of Disgaea. A game that rarely takes itself seriously with an off-the-wall cast, absurd attack animations and a story that feels like it’s parodying the enigmatic JRPG plot.
Disgaea 4 feels like a monumental undertaking as everything is introduced in the beginning of the game. There is the simplistic nature of the battle system, typical turn-based and strategy accompanied by a pretty unintelligent enemy AI which all seems easy enough. However, there is much to be explored outside of grinding through chapter after chapter of each story-driven battle. For instance, there’s Disgaea 4’s new Cam-Pain HQ.
For series veterans, the Cam-Pain HQ is similar to Disgaea 3’s Classroom Assembly. In the Cam-Pain, players must arrange their characters and Evil Symbols for optimal performance in battle. If neglected, some characters may quickly fall behind the rest of your party, which leads to some backtracking to power level these characters and even more micromanaging of the Cam-Pain’s grid. There’s also the senate, character creation, and various game features that can be tweaked from the HQ. Sometimes, the Cam-Pain can feel like it’s just as much a hindrance as it is helpful. I did find myself quite addicted to going back and forth to swap things around though, as I typically like as much control as devs will allow me to have over my party’s abilities and stats.
The Cam-Pain HQ is not Disgaea’s only other feature to explore outside of the story battles, the Item World has also been brought back from previous installments. This is another place where Disgaea 4 players can choose to make the game as long or as short as possible. The Item World offers endless hours of grinding through the creatures that reside there in order to raise an item’s level. As I played, a few minutes often turned into entire nights of creating overpowered weapons that had me plowing through story related battles with ease.
Disgaea 4 boasts an impressive array of online features as well. While trying to pass bills in the senate to manipulate game features, other players may show up to influence the vote. Pirates from other players can also make an appearance in your item world. There is also the ability to call on the aid of another player’s appointed Defense Minister to get your party through a tough battle. Perhaps my favorite of all of the online features though would be the map creation. You are given the freedom to customize maps however you like, then publish them online for others to enjoy or torture themselves with.
As much as there is to love about Disgaea’s traditional SRPG setup and extras, the game had some glaring flaws which felt a little annoying at times. More specifically, the camera angles in some of the more crowded battle maps.
This was not actually a problem in the beginning, but as the game progressed things became more difficult to manage on the cluttered maps. It never seemed to matter which way I turned; several of the later levels felt a little frustrating as I tried to select characters. A few minutes after turning them on, I turned off the rear touchpad controls. I had assumed they would make things easier, but they hardly ever worked the way I wanted them to. None of this felt like a problem on my 50-inch TV and PlayStation 3 version of the game, but the Vita’s smaller screen left something to be desired here.
A Promise Revisited remains on-point for much of the game. I enjoy being able to deal damage that climbs into outlandish digits. I loved the humor, the awkward meanderings of Fenrich, both the Japanese and English voice acting cast, changing allies into guns, and over-the-top battle animations. Disgaea 4 is another installment to the series that stays true to its roots, making it perfect for those who enjoyed the games before it. SRPG fans rejoice, NIS has delivered another gem to the Vita’s library.
Now, go treat yourself to a sardine, you deserve it.
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited was developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America. A digital copy of the game was provided to Save/Continue for review purposes.