Overview – developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America, Disgaea 5 Complete is the definitive version of the tactical RPG originally released for the PlayStation 4. This enhanced release includes all previously released DLC content in a single package. This version is available for Nintendo Switch and Steam, the PS4 version is also available as a base version and a complete bundle. Links to each version of the game will be available at the bottom of the review.
Disclaimer: this is a rewrite of a previously published article, updated to fit the quality and standard of other reviews that are on this site. The previously published version of this article is no longer available, so this is the only version of the review available for reading.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the story.
Story – Disgaea 5 focuses on Killia, a wandering demon who is travelling the Netherworlds on a quest for revenge on a man known as the “Demon Emperor” Void Dark. During his travels Killia encounters Lady Seraphina, an overlord who is battling an army called The Lost, commanded by Dark. After Killia decimates the enemy forces in a single strike, Seraphina joins the mysterious demon to aid him in fulfilling his vendetta and her own goals.
Gameplay – Disgaea 5 Complete maintains the same core gameplay mechanics featured in all other entries in the franchise. The isometric view, anime style visuals for sprites/portraits, thematic 3D worlds and chaotic turn based combat returns again, with special features that are exclusive to this installment. This is the third review in the Disgaea franchise, with Disgaea 1 Complete (viewable HERE) and Disgaea 4 Complete+ (viewable HERE), so I will be giving a brief summary of basic gameplay, alongside some notable exclusive features.
The story mode for Disgaea 5 takes place across 16 chapters, featuring battles across themed Netherworlds that have their own unique appearance. During each battle stage, the player is allowed to deploy up to 10 units from the starting space, with each unit able to make up to two actions per turn. Actions that units can make include standard attacks, special skills, movement and item usage.
When actions have been assigned for that turn, the player can execute the current actions to make more moves or end the turn, executing current actions and passing to the enemy. Be aware that if a unit is defeated, the slot that the unit was using is depleted, meaning if all 10 slots are depleted the battle is lost. The player may then retry, return to the home base or go to the main menu.
In battle, the units that are deployed will gain experience by using skills, defeating enemies and completing objectives. After earning enough experience, the unit will level up, gaining new skills/attacks and boosting their stats. Alongside experience is Hell and Mana, two forms of currency that are earned during play, primarily used to purchase new equipment and giving access to various features while in the Netherworld home base.
This time the home base is a pocket netherworld, featuring the Rosen Queen Trading Co, Dimension Guide, Hospital and Item World. The Dark Assembly returns in this entry, along with special content that is exclusive to this release. Here is just a few of the new features included in Disgaea 5 Complete;
- Revenge Mode – when a unit takes damage or allied units are defeated in battle, a special meter is filled. When this meter reaches the maximum threshold, that unit enters Revenge Mode. While active, this state allows the use of skills at a reduced cost, reduces damage and allows specific character units to activate a special skill. This special skill is a single use strike that can shift the tide of battle for that stage.
- Quest Shop – in the Pocket Netherworld, there is a shop that the player can access to obtain quests and challenges. These optional objectives range from collecting specific items, to leveling up specific classes to unlock rewards and more.
- Chara World – while the Chara World is present in Disgaea 4, that version of the mode was a variation of the Item World. In Disgaea 5, the Chara World has been revamped to function similar to a board game, with a preset number of turns to make it to the goal. Choose a character from your party and send them on a quest to unlock special upgrades.
- Curry Shop – mix together items in your inventory to create special curry items, with each unique combination providing different results. Curry items can be bought from the shop with preset effects that can be used immediately.
Now with the details of gameplay covered to a degree that prevents spoilers, I will be moving onto the other aspects of the game, starting with the difficulty.
Difficulty – Disgaea 5 has a level of challenge that feels fair and balanced, with rapid advancement that is both satisfying and rewarding during play. The difficulty can be eased for players that struggle with the help of special Prinny characters, with each special character set at level 25 and available early in the game, boosting the power of the players party. Alongside additional features and special bonuses, this is the most accessible Disgaea currently available for players.
Presentation – the visuals are as crisp and vibrant as ever, with the portraits for the new characters/units featuring the same high quality as always. The animations for special skills, team attacks and cutscenes are spectacular, showcasing the trademark insanity that Nippon Ichi Software is known for. The best part of the graphical design is the variety of environments available to explore and battle through, making each Netherworld featured feel unique.
The sound has all the hallmarks of the Disgaea franchise, with exciting tracks that feature both operatic and traditional singing, alongside the usual rock and jazz style compositions. The most memorable part of the soundtrack is the theme that plays while in the Pocket Netherworld, titled Moving On, this track is calm and relaxing, featuring a vocal track that adds to the experience. Disgaea 5 features an English voice cast, with excellent performances by Stephanie Sheh (Little Witch Academia), Cherami Leigh (Brand New Animal) and Kira Buckland (Demon Slayer) to name but a few of the talented voice actors.
Final Thoughts – this is the best way to experience Disgaea 5, as the inclusion of bonus DLC content creates the definitive version of Nippon Ichi Software’s latest mainline entry in their most well know franchise (until Disgaea 6 is released in 2021). The developers have provided an excellent experience for players both old and new who may want to try the series on the Nintendo Switch, with easy to pick up gameplay mechanics and wonderful cast of characters.
I cannot recommend this game enough as the gameplay, narrative and overall experience kept me engaged the entire time. The voice acting is a delight and the presentation spectacular, with beautifully rendered character portraits, Netherworld locations and voiced dialogue sequences that have a unique charm that only Nippon Ichi games have. I have lost countless hours playing this game and the other Disgaea Complete releases and with Disgaea 6 coming next year, I expect to lose many, many more.
In the end, I give Disgaea 5 Complete a final score of 5/5. This is an outstanding release and another feather in the cap for Nippon Ichi Software. The characters, story and gameplay are engaging, with the included DLC content adding more value to the overall package on offer. If you want to check this game out for yourself, links to each version of the game will be below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation 4 version (HERE)
Link to Steam version (HERE)