Friday, 22 August 2014

Review: Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited (PSVita)


Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is the PsVita version of Playstation 3 title Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, the forth main title in the popular SRPG series Disgaea. How does this stack up against previous release Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention & just how accessible is this title to newbies? read on to find out d00d!.

Disgaea 4's story is all about Hades's resident vampire Valvatorez & his Werewolf assistant Fenrich, together they spend their time training up the Prinnies, Disgaea mascot and general comic relief of any game they touch. The Prinnies seem have gone missing & it's down the Val & Co to find out just who is Prinnynapping his school, from then it's a mental tongue in cheek Cam-Pain of battles and fantastic writing.

What I really enjoyed in regards to the story of D4 is how well the characters were written, I'll be the first to admit that no matter what I tried I couldn't ever warm to Mao & Co from 3 so this was a brilliant surprise, I would go to say that for story & characters it's the closest you'll get to the quality of 1. Though the initial synopsis seems straight forward there is alot of depth in the narrative with such questions as "Why does Val obsess over Sardines, Why does he choose to train Prinnies, What is the fascination with promises & much more. I don't want to say too much in regards to the story because part of Disgaea's charm for me is just how mad cap & off the rails the story can become so quickly.

Graphically Disgaea 4 is visually stunning using crisp HD sprites to bring the characters to life, not so much the environments but they do still have a little charm to them. Playing this game on my original model VITA the colours of the characters and stages are all vibrant and intense, it's really pleasing to the eye and just helps keep you interested in this title over the long hours you'll spend with it.
I'm not 100% sure but it looks to me like some of the sprites have been "Cleaned up" to an extent and look even better than the original on PS3 boarding close to the visual quality set in Disgaea D2. The cutscene models still have a fair few different frames but I really would love something closer to what Idea Factory! used in the Agarest/Hyperdimension titles, it's the little touches in them that help lengthier cutscenes be a touch more entertaining
The stages are all sort of hovering in a sort of empty space but the actual maps themselves have nice little touches to show where you are fighting, such examples as stone laced training rooms, waste grounds full of murky water and poisonous mushrooms, to temples and factories, you'll always have an idea where you are fighting and some even let you interact with them which is a bonus!.

Gameplay is the key when it comes to the main Disgaea series, ask any fan of the series & I can promise you they will of put 100's of hours into the games. What you have with this product is in my honest opinion the most addictive SRPG title you can buy, the best part I feel about the series is that it always has something to offer you as long as you put back into it.
As with most SRPG titles this is a grid based system, you take turns between you and your allies/enemies, the winner is usually the one who wipes out the other team though there are times where there is another stipulation but more on that later on.

You have the usual "classes" warrior, monk, mage, healer and the like obviously with a hellacious twist, though you'll start out with a few you will be creating your own personalizing and tailoring them to your Cam-Pain needs.
You have the standard actions of, attack, defend, item & skill, naturally NISA have put some more into these options to help define Disgaea. You have the gamechanging Lift/Throw option, at first you'll see a few chances to use these but won't think much of it, later on once you have a grasp on Disgaea you'll realise just how important this option is. As it says on the tin Lift/Throw makes your unit pick up and then throw anything in the next grid along, be it an item, a Prinny, Geocube/symbol or team mate, what this means is clever use of the throw option opens up your unit movement and can often turn the tide of battle by throwing the right thing in the right place, also it's worth noting that when you throw a Prinny they explode!.

 Magichange is another new option, in Disagea you have humanoid units which as it says are in a way human, then you have monster units, Prinny, Cat, Zombie and other nasties you'll fight throughout, historically with these games monster units have been tosh, Disgaea 4 deals with this by using Magichange. What this does is essentially fuse your monster with your human E.G Prinny with Human creates a  Human wielding a Prinny based Bow and Arrow. These can help turn the tide of battle for you & actually makes you look into Monster Units for your team as an overall strategy.

GeoSymbols/Cubes are the staple for Disgaea and have long helped differentiate it from it's SRPG kin. Bare bones basic, there are coloured panels in the stages I.E Red,Yellow & Blue, also you'll find a Pyramid (Geosymbol) also in these colours. These symbols usually have an action applied to them for example Level 8 Boost, what this means is when that symbol is touching a coloured panel, any that colour is effected by this Level 8 Boost causing any units to gain power. This can be a savior or your doom depending on the condition as they have certain damning ones in regards to enemy boosts.To combat this you can attack the Geosymbol destroying it and it's effect, this also changes the colour of the panels, clever planning and knowledge of the system you can perform a "Chain". Where the colours get changed until they change back to normal panels and cause an explosion, this also fills up your bonus bar on the side.
The bonus bar as just mentions fills when performing actions and chains, the higher you fill it the better rewards you get at the end of the stage. Another action that helps fill the meter up is a team combo, this is performed when you have affiliated units side by side, this causes a joint attack usually resulting in more damage.

I'm going to stop listing off the features after the next one, Disgaea fans will already know everything these is and every game always explains the features throughout, it's a complex yet rewarding collection of systems that on their own don't seem like much but when used alongside others create an addictive and rewarding strategy game.

One final feature I shall touch upon is the Item World, every single item/weapon/armour in the game has stats & a level, you can level this up by visiting the Item World. Item World is randomly generated floors in which you fight and move down a level each time. Every 10 levels you are given the option to escape from the Item World and reep the rewards or continue onwards to even more levels, bad guys and treasures. The amount of playtime you can amass on Item World alone is staggering, with this title the battle system is the key grip and this just offers such a random and enjoyable experience in which to grind!.

Storywise the game should last you around the 15/20 hours mark for one playthrough, the game has multiple endings which are achieved at various times and as such should increase your story playthrough time a significant amount, Item World is a limitless time sink in which if you enjoy the core system you'll find yourself spending so much time here. Once you complete the story you also unlock a staggering amount of new stories, you'll find you sink alot more time here than you did in the story mode. It's a well known fact that Disgaea truly opens up Post Game and you'll find game saves going well into the 200+ hours at the very least.

All the above applies to the Vanilla title but with the Vita version you also find ALL the DLC from the Playstation 3 version and even some extras included just for Vita owners, for ease of reading I'll list these extras off avoiding spoilers

  • An extra scenario  
  • New level of magic 
  • Cheat shop from D2
  • Ability to change the weapon sprite 
  • New playable characters & returning characters from D3 for people who have a D3 save on their Vita 
  • Special Skills from D3
  • Character promotion from D:D2
  • Event Viewer 
  • Innocent warehouse 
  • Several gameplay changes and balances 
As you can see all this adds content to an already fit to bursting package, another feature included from the Ps3 version is the online playmodes, these are where you can create levels for friends to either challenge or help them, I haven't sunk much time into the online due to it not being active while reviewing so unfortunately I can't really touch further on that.

With this version there seems to be a little more loading from Level Select to wandering around the hub, it's not a major issue but it does annoy a little after long playtimes. The graphics as I said earlier look amazing on the OLED especially the sprites as they have never looked better.
For me personally I have always found these games lend themselves better to the handheld format, especially with the nature of Item World, it's one of the easier titles to jump into but if you are a complete n00b to the SRPG genre there will be an awful lot of head scratching.
Finally the writing throughout is brilliant and really shines at points, you never quite get Disgaea 1 quality but so far no entry has come this close, You'll enjoy the revelations throughout the story which should keep you hooked long enough the for post game content to sink it's fangs into you.

Loading aside there isn't much holding this title back from being the perfect title for your Vita, a few issues with camera controls but that's just my personal preference, it's a tough hardcore SRPG with tonnes of content for your money, you won't get Final Fantasy epic levels of story but you will get a charming, funny and at times outrageous tale for your money!/


Who Should Buy This?

  • SRPG Fans 
  • Disgaea Fans 
  • Looking for a title that'll last you a while? Yeah right here buddy! 

Who Should Avoid This?

  • Looking for a quick fix? No you get what you put in with Disgaea 
  • Wanting a serious epic yarn? Not here 
  • Wanting something to push the Vita's visuals?. It's a stunning looking game but it's no showcase!


  1. Great review mate! Im considering to buy this. At the moment playing XCOm enemy unknown!

  2. Thanks man, it's a cracking game as the review says