- Amusing plot;
- Great combat system;
- Crazy gameplay ideas that somehow work very well;
- Equally crazy soundtrack.
- It’s only a port; not a full-fledged remake;
- Clumsy mouse controls.
When the first Disgaea was released on PC, I did everything I possibly could to somehow convince people to notice this title. Disgaea is simply a fantastic series of tactical RPGs that’s known for its humor and absurd gameplay mechanics – it’s like Final Fantasy Tactics suddenly went off its rocker. Why wouldn’t people enjoy this gem of an RPG?
The Japanese studio is keeping up the momentum and has just released a port of the second installment in the series, which originally debuted on PlayStation 2 back in 2006 to a positive reception. The question is: is there a point to playing a 10-year-old game? And should those unfamiliar with the franchise skip the first part and go straight to Disgaea 2? There’s a simple answer to both these questions: definitely yes. Disgaea 2 is witty and offers a ton of possibilities; it can even change your life. I’m convinced that every personal development coach would recommend this game to their clients, if only personal development coaches deemed video games worth their attention…
Disgaea 2 is set in a twisted version of the afterworld, where the eternal conflict between heaven and hell is in full swing. While the first game’s plot and humor were rooted in the clash between characters from the opposing factions (asking whether an angel can fall in love with a demon), in the second game things are quite different.
The protagonist is Adell – a boy determined to lift a curse that burdens his kind: people were turned into demons by a lord of darkness going by the name of Zenon. The mother of the boy attempts to challenge the powerful lord to a duel, but she makes a mistake; instead of the lord, his daughter, Rozalin is conjured. Bound by the force of the spell, she leads the young warrior to her father.
This unusual and internally contradictive team is soon reinforced by other, equally absurd figures, such as a “bipolar” frog named Tink, who’s either amiable or mean – you can switch between these personalities with the Draak-Tink-Mahalaak spell. Humorous, even satirical characters are without a doubt the game’s main asset.
The story of Adell and Rozalin is full of absurd turns of events and it constantly subverts our fixed notions of what hell is as well as real and contemporary matters – let’s just say that one of the first antagonists of the game is a former TV celebrity, who is followed everywhere by a television crew that is fruitlessly fishing for news. It’s the features like this one that give the game its distinct flavor – Disgaea 2 is a silly game about things that tend to be serious at times.
Going through these weird adventures, which often are jovial and sometimes cheesy, the characters undergo a transition – they discover they were wrong thinking that the world was black-and-white; the reality is more complex, and people, or demons, are driven by contradictory emotions. You may have a laugh at one of the surprisingly accurate jokes; you may be touched by the dramatic experiences of some characters; you may be embarrassed by some of the silly gags; and most of all, you can develop relationships with them, and see what makes them tick.
In fact, after spending some time in Disgaea I had a hard time sinking my teeth into the latest installment of Fire Emblem, where everything is so damn serious and the fate of an entire kingdom depends on the player. The demons from Disgaea display a much more reasonable attitude towards life: if the kingdom burns, we shall loot our neighbors.