Nippon Ichi Software and their Los Angeles based NIS America have been making huge strides in their arguably more niche Japanese RPGs. The last entry in the “Atelier” series offered the most polished gameplay experience to date and their subsequent productions have all been better entertainment experiences than their earlier efforts. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that their flagship strategy RPG property, “Disgaea” would see an update too. Celebrating NIS’s 20th anniversary and the tenth anniversary of the “Disgaea” series, “Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness” is a slick looking return to its roots.
“Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness” continues the adventures of the new overlord Laharl, his chief vassal Etna, and the fallen angel Flonne. After a long journey, Laharl finally finds himself as a full-fledged Overlord. Unfortunately not everyone in the Netherworld recognizes the kid as their undisputed leader. As with most NIS titles, the storyline, while seemingly self-aware is all over the place. That also means the dialogue is filled with sexual innuendo. As you would expect, it is all voiced with an over the top delivery. There is little room for subtlety in this tale.
There is room for a huge amount of gameplay. While it is a fair criticism to say that the most recent “Disgaea” entry might have had a little too much going on for newcomers, “D2” seems to find a better balance. Though, you won’t have the backstory, “D2” is a good place to jump onto “Disgaea” franchise. In “Disgaea 4,” the rules to the Demon Fuse and Magichange weapon system could be a little tough to keep straight. The new game ditches those for a new mount mechanic that allows characters to ride any creature. The new apprentice program is as equally straightforward, giving both the master and student characters bonuses. The clubs from “Disgaea 3” have also been replaced with the Demon Dojo.
If you are new to the series, bear in mind the general gameplay mechanics are from a previous age in gaming. That means, in many ways “Disgaea” is like an anime themed version of chess. Planning is certainly required along with a fair amount grinding. Luckily, the presentation level is the best yet in the series and each of the main characters has unique interactions with the inhabitants and surroundings of the underworld. Characters in the group also have a relationship status that when increased allows character-bound special action and in-game-events, such as protecting and countering for each other along with some narrative banter.
“Disgaea D2” is certainly the definitive “Disgaea” experience for those willing to invest the time. Many of the improvements are common sense additions that should have been added a while ago, like the ability to throw in any direction, while others are nice surprises. Character making has even been upgraded with a couple more character types and a new personality system. Truthfully, you’d be hard pressed to find another game that can challenge you for the 40 plus hours, not including the new game plus or the planned DLC packs like “A Brighter Darkness” will.
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