Disgaea 4 is the latest game in the Disgaea series to get a PlayStation Vita port, the title was originally released on the PlayStation 3, in 2011, along with various DLC packs.
Disgaea’s known for its comical plot lines, often breaking the fourth wall to great effect, and the fourth entry in the series is no different. The game features a colourful cast of demons on a quest to stop the Corrupternment’s plans – a clichéd, yet whimsical plotline, which the game comments on fairly often.
The main character Valvatorez’s obsessions and quirks are hilarious and instantly make him likeable, in a similar vein to Disgaea 3’s Lord Mao’s obsession with hot sauce and his perverted nature. Like others in the series, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is great. The story is played out in a similar episodic format to Disgaea 3, featuring world changes after each episode. Although a lot of the features are locked away at the beginning, it doesn’t take long for the world to completely open up and give you the freedom to decide how you play the game. There’s plenty of classes to choose from, and the game provides a lot of customization options through purchasing Skills and Evilities with Mana points.
The graphics are incredible, there’s no downgrade in quality from the PS3 version. The sprite animations are fluid, and there’s no expense spared when it comes to the quality of the special effects. Disgaea 4’s a shining example of how good PS Vita games can look. The music is great as always, featuring an orchestral soundtrack in a similar fare to the earlier Disgaea games. There’s a wide variety of tracks that play in the background, and none of them get annoying which is key considering how long you can spend in each battle. The voice acting is also brilliant, the Disgaea series has a convention of sourcing brilliant voice acting talent, which is a joy to listen to. For those that prefer Japanese voices, they’re available too as always.
The gameplay is fairly similar to Disgaea 3, preserving the Magichange mechanic, and adding a few extras here and there. It’s great to see the return of Item World, and the Club feature is still alive and well in this new incarnation albeit with a new coat of paint. The game remains true to the Disgaea formula and provides a gameplay experience that caters to newcomers and die hard fans alike. For those that haven’t played Disgaea before, Disgaea offers a fairly standard Strategy RPG experience. You get a party of characters, usually the story characters plus any further characters that you can create yourself, which you can choose a limited number from for a battle. You then move these characters around the map within their movement limit, and get the option of performing various commands that you use to win the battle.
One interesting feature that I don’t remember seeing in Disgaea 3 is the Cheat vendor, who lets you adjust (within limits) the EXP, Mana and Money rates, as well as the overall difficulty scale of the enemies. This allows you to fine tune your gameplay experience, and seems to be a great alternative to the usual video game fare of Easy, Normal and Hard modes. For players that are looking for a challenge you can crank up the difficulty to the Insane level, whereas more casual players looking to experience the storyline more than the gameplay can leave it on the lowest possible setting. This is a great way of making the game accessible to as many players as possible.
Another feature they have kept from the previous Disgaea games is the randomized inventories of Weapon, Item and Armor vendors. Each time you access the shopping menu at one of these vendors, you get a different list of items you can buy, with slightly different stats and rarities, and of course different prices. This is a great feature of the Disgaea series that allows you to play a game of chance to get the best equipment in the game, and it also allows vendors to be more flexible if you’re low on money (which can happen a lot in Disgaea).