My Top 12 Games of 2015: #05 Disgaea 5
This got knocked down my list the more I thought about it. Not because it’s a bad game, it’s one of my favorite games of the year by no small margin. If I was being entirely biased I’d slap this bad boy up to #1. I mean hell, I got platinum in the goddamn thing. I wrote a lot of guides that have been fairly popular on my personal website. And I believe I enjoyed basically every second of the time I played it. The characters were fun, the story was fun, the graphics were top notch, the music excellent, and the entire experience streamlined to a fine deadly edge.
Everything that was weak in any of the previous titles is enhanced here. Aw yeah, switching tenses, I hear that drives folks nuts. Anyways, this game is excellent. They’ve managed to remove a lot of the fluff from Disgaea that didn’t enhance the experience. Long gone are the hundreds of hours to get yourself to a state of conquering the game. The story itself can be played almost non-stop without any sort of grinding necessary. It makes it tougher but it is still entirely doable. The new modes that have you sending out people to other Netherworlds help earn them experience and keep your entire team leveling. Sometimes people you’ve never used in combat will actually outlevel your main team.
The game is chock full of side content and systems that are all absolutely lovely. I love the mechanic of curry and using it as a long term (100 battle long) buff to my characters. It can really turn the tides of some of the harder optional content. There were many days where I woke up specifically with this game in mind. Long hours of raiding in wow were made harder and sometimes painful by my desire to go and play this instead. Many hours of lost sleep followed by a few early mornings. Each moment lacking in regret and each moment furthering my progress along a path of hedonistic joy.
Disgaea is a series that has never really disappointed me. But this is the first one to give me an excellent experience AND terrify me. Because they are literally as finely tuned as you can get. One more flick of the sharpener and this blade will shatter. I’m worried that Disgaea 6 is going to be weaker, to have less content, less options. Because they’ve run out of “bad things” to remove from their formula and this is generally where game companies start removing the good. I want to say that Nippon Ichi is above this but I don’t believe they are. I will be coming to Disgaea 6 with optimistic skepticism. I fear what their eyes will focus in on as “unnecessary”.
But that bleakness aside. There is little bad about this game, if anything. About my only criticism would be that the chara world is way too slow. There are limits to how many % you can earn per run of the board game and that’s just a bad game design decision. That’s replacing quality content with hollow padding and I loathe that in video games. Had it allowed you to live on the board for as long as you can earn turns and survive random events it would have been just one long boner of a relaxing time. But they broke it, luckily max affinity is entirely optional and unnecessary to Platinum the game.
Anyone that likes tactical RPGs will like this in my opinion. For those that don’t I couldn’t even fathom what they’d want instead. I’ll admit that X-COM is a different experience but I can’t think of anything else that isn’t very similar to Disgaea in this genre. These have become, for me, the defacto experience in this corner of gaming and I would like them to stay that way. Few things would be more delightful for me as a game enthusiast than loading up Disgaea 15 someday and having it be just as good as Disgaea 5. At a certain point you find yourself holding the wheel in your hand. An object perfectly suited for what it is attempting to accomplish. Any tweaking of it beyond that point becomes dangerous. Adding just a single edge and suddenly you’ve got something lesser.
Not every addition is positive, not every removal is negative. But some developers manage to be so good at what they do that they run out of positive additions or negative removals. I think, for the most part, Nippon Ichi has run out of the latter. However, they have plenty of good they can do on the former. All sorts of additions or silly ideas they can pursue. If anything I’d love a whatif scenario where we finally find out just which hero is the strongest. Naturally I’ve got my money on Valvatorez.
PS. The DLC prices for these games are off the hook. I wish they weren’t so awful about that but at least it rarely ever adds “power” to your game. Just a bit of diversity.
I’ve reviewed this game already, but I’ll reiterate that it is absolutely great. I’d happily go back and play it again sometime, and I just might!