Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness Review
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On 01/07/2014 at 12:00 PM by Chris Yarger
In a complicated world of wacky demons, you sometimes feel right at home.
A must have for anyone who is a fun of strategic games with an anime twist.
I would love to say that I’m a huge fan of the Disgaea series, however, I’ve never played a single title within the saga until Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness. If there was ever a game to make me fall in love with a series though; it would be this game. I entered this lengthy saga with my mind wide open, and I fell in love with a punishing and grindy game that continually made me go back for more. This colorful adventure (colorful in more ways than just its palette, I assure you) proves that a deep combat system coupled with childish and quirky humor can be crafted into something beautiful that will entertain for hours on end.
The game starts as many RPGs do: a small problem arises, and a bumbling hero sets off to fix the error. The difference here is that the hero, Laharl, is the new Overlord in the Netherworld, and his problem is that his fellow demons aren’t respecting him as their Supreme Ruler and Overlord. As the tale goes on, Laharl and his merry band of demons go on numerous wacky adventures that twist and turn the story and present the characters in unique fashions and scenarios. Even when Laharl wakes up as a female version of himself early in the adventure, the game still finds a way to take itself seriously while poking fun at the characters.
I must admit, I was hesitant at first about the story simply because it’s a direct sequel to Disgaea 2 on PlayStation 2. Fortune, however, was in my favor, for the developers who worked on this game made it possible to jump right in without making me feel like I missed out by not playing the previous game.
The world of Disgaea D2: Brighter Darkness, is as the title sounds, set in a brightly colored and wonderfully animated Netherworld. Brighter Darkness features ten episodes that showcase various points of the Netherworld as well as brief glimpse of the heavenly world of Celestia. The central area is the home castle of Laharl, where the player can converse with the entire party to build up Friendship Status as well as purchase items, visit the Dojo to customize how a party member’s stats level, accept missions, pass bills for more items or cash, and even tweak the settings of the game via the Cheat Shop (which more or less offers various give/take scenarios)! While it felt overwhelming at first, everything fell together quickly and came quite naturally in a short amount of time.
The story and the worlds aren’t what enthralled me the most, though. The best part of D2: Brighter Darkness was the depth of the battle system and the amount of flexibility it gives to the player. The battles play out on a grid system like any other strategy RPG, but the mechanics to strike enemies with unique combo attacks and protect allies are absolutely phenomenal. There are also numerous classes to discover and level, as well as countless versions of monsters for you to create and use at your disposal. And speaking of monsters, you can also mount them or stack your characters to form a massive tower, which also treats the player to unique moves and actions accordingly. The flow of battle is broken up occasionally with small snippets of dialogue amongst your four primary party members with the occasional boss chirping in with his/her own opinions. There are also so many skills and different types of magic for the player to utilize that I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of seeing them all, and I’ve been playing for well over sixty hours!
There is also a plethora of items at the player’s disposal for every character, with each class having different ranks ranging from Normal to Legendary. Weapons can be used with any class, as long as that certain character has enough weapon proficiency to utilize the weapon effectively. If you need to find new items you either can’t afford or don’t have access to yet, you can enter the Item World, which provides valuable experience to your party through continual battles and also lets you get grandiose items not available in the weapon shop. Be warned though, the multi-colored grids that often accompany the Item World are extremely treacherous and punishing.
Once you finish the main storyline, you are able to open up the full experience of the game. With LoC (Land of Carnage) and Rasetsu Modes, you can reincarnate your characters and absorb enemy stats, allowing you to reach uber levels beyond the 9999 threshold. You’re also able complete miscellaneous side quests to unlock new characters, most of which are imports from the other games in the series, without much reasoning to explain their appearances. The game also offers optional bosses, most of which require countless hours of grinding and stat absorption before you even to stand a chance. It’s a massive post-game that makes grinding time well spent, despite the monotony.
Despite my blooming love for this game and inevitably, the series as a whole, not all was well in the world of Disgaea 2: Brighter Darkness, for I found a problem so severe that I was damn near unable to finish the game. After some thorough research, I discovered that the digital download versions of the game come with a harsh glitch that often induces game freezes. I honestly can’t count the amount of hours I lost due to this issue. I pin-pointed the cause of the freezing, which was brought on by using special character skills and magic, forcing me to play strictly melee classes throughout most of the game. However, I also found the auto-save feature in the settings menu which not only saved my sanity, but also seemed to halt the freezing problem. Luckily I persevered, because if I had quit early on, I would’ve missed one hell of a great game.