Role-Playing Games are a genre very synonymous with Japanese gaming culture. The genre’s brought classics such as Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Trigger. Every RPG has its unique draws and features that grab players’ attention.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ is no exception to this rule. Its bright, colorful appearance and accessibility are welcoming traits already, for instance. Disgaea 4 Complete+ also has all of the DLC from previous versions, so any additional story chapters, characters, and other goodies are included from the jump.
It’s about time we jump in and find out whether this game is good or not. So we ask; what does this game do right and wrong?
(Author’s note: The version reviewed is the Steam version.)
The Game’s Main Plot and Objective
Disgaea 4 Complete+ has you take control of Valvatorez, a former tyrant in the underworld. The game’s main goal is to conquer the underworld by conquering all battles you come across. Aided by Fenrich, a werewolf and loyal partner to Valvatorez, and an army of other characters you can recruit, you utilize the maps and terrain to your advantage.
The general story has a more light-hearted tone to it than some other RPGs, and it adds to its charm. Some of the attack animations, the way dialogue is formatted and spoken, and even some of the units themselves only add to that.
The entire presentation is definitely more of the cartoony style and less in the form of handling more serious topics. If you’re looking for the type of content that, say, a Persona game, will give you, you probably won’t find it here.
The Main Hub
Throughout the game, various facilities will open to the player to assist their conquest, aside from playing the story. These include health restoratives, new weapons and skills, and other features. You’ll use all of these to your advantage so that you have the best fighting chance in combat.
The weapon shop, armor shop, and general item stores allow players to buy new items to use for characters and their battle performance. The Weapon and Armor shops change stock upon each visit, which makes visiting valuable from time to time. Each unit has its own weapon preferences, so be sure to make the most of their skills and buy the right weapons for them.
An interesting shop that opens after a few story battles is the Evility Shop (shown above). This facility allows units to learn new attacks, similar to Skill Cards in the Persona series. This shop uses its own currency, which is Mana. You get Mana from completing maps and leveling up, so you can just play the game and stock up on it.
You can also purchase DLC in the form of in-game boosters to enhance your battle experience. They’re cheap, but kind of an off-putting addition otherwise. Thankfully, story content isn’t locked behind a paywall.
Disgaea 4 Complete+’s Flow of Combat
Disgaea 4 Complete+’s combat can have clear similarities drawn to another RPG with its foundation. The way battle maps are laid out is in a very similar vein to Intelligent Systems’ Fire Emblem series. Another similarity can be drawn in how combat works and the presence of map gimmicks.
Each modern Fire Emblem title has its own unique mechanic to alter the flow of battle by altering the map. For instance, in Fates, players had access to the Dragon Vein, which changed various conditions of the battle map (such as creating new spaces for the player character’s units to navigate).
Disgaea does this in the form of the Lift mechanic. Selecting this command will allow your unit to pick up another allied unit or an object like a box. Then, you have the option to move what you’ve lifted or throw it. Using the boxes will allow for units to reach out-of-the-way locations at times, rewarding you with extra items or XP.
Otherwise, battles play like a typical Fire Emblem game; select a unit, give it a command, go to a sub-menu to execute all assigned commands. Then it’s the enemy turn and they do the same, rinse and repeat. It isn’t boring, per se, it’s just that it feels too familiar to those games to me, which is fine if they were intending that.
The Cam-pain HQ
After completing the tutorial, the Cam-pain HQ opens to the player. Here, the player can take various actions that aid in the game’s completion. Players can opt to send a unit to a map tile to attempt to take it over, and doing so will have different effects based on story progression.
Other things players can do is recruit new units (and name them) and hold Senate meetings to unlock new features or get more resources. Units recruited in this manner start at Lv.1, as if it were the beginning of the game, so keep that in mind. Some units cannot be renamed, like Valvatorez or Fenrich (obviously).
Senate meetings are pretty important for in-between battles. Holding meetings requires Mana, and they unlock various benefits for you and your party. You can open new facilities such as the Cheat Shop, for example, which allows you to alter various attributes of the game (such as EXP gained, Mana and HL gained, and enemy levels).
The Cheat Shop’s mechanics can allow you to make the game easier or harder for yourself, which is pretty nice accessibility-wise. I don’t know if it affects achievement unlocking, as of the time of review, but will update if it does or does not.
Problems With Disgaea 4 Complete+
As charming as the game is, there’s a few… issues with it. My biggest issue with the plot stems from the fact that, if the character isn’t named Valvatorez or Fenrich (or whoever they happen to be talking to), almost none of your party characters really matter. Realistically, you could probably run around with six copies of one of the generatable units and it wouldn’t even matter that much in terms of the story. Characters on that front feel super shallow.
Another thing is that, in the early game, unless you’re Valvatorez, Fenrich, or the fighter class, regular attacks do almost nothing. You’d be surprised how many times I tried attacking normally without using MP, only to see a 1, a 0, or a MISS. Combat also has another thing that’s kind of annoying, in the form of the Counter system.
This happens after certain units attack. Upon taking a hit, the attacked unit will retaliate and perform a counterattack. This can drag on pretty long with multiple counter stacks, continuing until either your unit or the enemy unit keels over. Now, imagine multiple units doing this per turn, and things become a massive drag.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ is an interesting one. It has things that I personally like, but it’s also got rather… weird design choices. For one, the art style draws you in due to its vibrant colors and simplified characters. Its battle system with the lift mechanic is interesting, especially given that the Evility shop has skills for the mechanic.
However, glaring problems with character value muddy the experience. It’s absolutely doable to sit through the game, but long sessions can be kind of grating for multiple reasons. Needing to grind other classes really hard for damage potential sounds and is irritating, especially when attacking normally does nothing.
Overall, this game’s a hard one to rate. However, it definitely gets points for including all of the previous DLC from the game’s previous versions. If you’ve never played Disgaea 4, this version may interest you. However, if you have, then the decision becomes a bit harder.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ is now available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.
Disgaea 4 Complete+
Disgaea 4 Complete+'s main boons include a welcoming art style, decent combat system, and pretty good overworld variety that hide some core problems with the game.
- Very colorful art style
- Battle mechanics feels familiar if you've played other RPGs
- Unit variety allows for various playstyles
- Things can get pretty grind-heavy to ensure units don't die
- Some party units outright don't matter in the story
- Battles can drag hard if two units have counterattack properties