The Disgaea series originally launched in 2003 on the PlayStation 2 with Disgaea: Hour of Darkness that received positive reviews for its creative gameplay and comical characters. The direct sequel, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness came out on the PlayStation 3 that also received praise from critics that solidified the Disgaea series in the competitive strategy RPG market. More Disgaea titles in the series were released including Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten and Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance. After more than two years following the 2016 release of Disgaea PC with fairly mixed reviews, NIS America has now brought Disgaea 1 Complete to the PS4 and Nintendo Switch in celebration of the Disgaea series’15th anniversary.
Disgaea 1 Complete kicks off two years after the death of the demon overlord Krichevskoy with the Netherworld descending into anarchy and chaos. Laharl, the demon prince, awakens from slumber after numerous attempts from his faithful vassal, Etna to interrupt his rest using a bountiful supply of loaded weapons. Vowing to rule the throne as its rightful heir, Laharl and Etna travels to another castle and defeats the demon Vyers before meeting Flonne, an angel trainee. After learning the mighty Krichevskoy is dead, Flonne agrees to join Laharl and Etna to learn more about demons and assess their capability to feel genuine emotions like friendship and love. Throughout the game, Laharl will team up with unlikely allies in his quest to reclaim the throne from demon usurpers and solidify his rule as the true demon overlord.
Gameplay evolves around the standard grid-based system used to manage your team members’ strategic positions, equipment and mission objectives. Each character may equip up to four items comprised of a single weapon and three other items like equipment or armor. Character items, equipment and accessories are available for purchase at the Rosen Queen Company Netherworld Branch. At the Netherworld Hospital, wounds can be healed for a fee while claiming prizes for the amount of HP and SP recovered. As the NPC character Silvia put it best, this encourages players to get “thrashed in battle” to take more risks for higher rewards. Items acquired, use or discarded are kept on record books and archives that are useful as a guide for players who want detailed information about inventory items. Corridale serves as the Dimensional Gatekeeper who transports your party members to your next destination. Saving your game can be done anytime at the Overlord Castle prior to missions as you strategically prepare your team for combat.
Combat begins by selecting characters to dispatch from the base panel and moving them on the grid-based map to attack, defend or hold their position. Commands issued to characters are performed when the “Execute” or “End of Turn” is chosen on the battlefield. A combo or team-based attack can be unleashed if two characters attack a targeted enemy in the same vicinity. If a team member falls in battle, they can be revived by paying “Hell” at the Overlord Castle to rejoin your party. The Prinny Squad comprised of loyal penguins serve as the satirical highlight that speak and end their sentences with “Dood!”. This remark alone will put a smile or laugh on many a fans’ faces who consider themselves Prinny fans with a badge of honor. Dealing millions of points of damage and building your team up to level 9999 is all part of the Netherworld experience with tons of hilarity and mayhem.
The humor is witty and charming with each character displaying a unique personality with their habits and quirks. In contrast to many games today, the jokes are funny and clean. This was a time in the industry when video games showcasing gratuitous violence or sex were less rampant with more emphasis was placed on storytelling and gameplay mechanics. It is a grand feeling to play Disgaea again with a healthy dose of nostalgia and retro charm receiving an HD remaster in this generation’s latest consoles. Strategy fans who grew up with games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem or Tactics Ogre will feel right at home with Disgaea 1 Complete.
Visually, the characters look polished during dialogue as your teammates converse with artistic and colorful backgrounds. Compared to the original game, the graphics received a fresh coat of paint but specific NPCs appear to be blurry and less detailed at the Demon Overlord castle. As the original Disgaea was released in 2003, the character sprites are much sharper, smoother and polished in Disgaea 1 Complete. Musically, the game is filled with hilarious, comical and silly music that perfectly fits the atmosphere of the game as you conquer other demons and fight strategically and skillfully on the battlefield.
Disgaea 1 Complete is an enjoyable SRPG title that is unfortunately held back by the vintage gameplay that shows its age. Despite these issues, Disgaea 1 Complete is a charming and nostalgic game that is sure to strike a chord with strategy RPG fans and for those that missed out on the original Disgaea the first time around. Disgaea 1 Complete has the heart and soul of the original game with all the characters and strategy elements intact for those that wish to revisit and enjoy the whimsical and classic Disgaea game in its entirety.
PROS (+): Updated Visuals, Comical Characters, Hilarious Dialogue
CONS (-): Dated Gameplay Mechanics
SCORE – 7.5/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Disgaea 1 Complete on the PlayStation 4 provided by NIS America.