Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny Review
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is the latest entry in the long-lived strategy RPG series all about customization, BIG BIG numbers, and wacky humour. For the most part, Disgaea 6 meets all of the above criteria. However, there have been quite a few changes and not just the leap from 2D sprites to 3D models.
The story kicks off with the protagonist Zed, a young zombie boy, crashing an emergency meeting. He declares that he has already defeated the God of Destruction which has been threatening the universe. From then on, you proceed through the campaign detailing the events leading to victory, although he initially confuses the crowd when the first tale ends with his death. Using the Super Reincarnation spell, Zed reincarnates into different worlds taking the most optimal path to success until he achieves his wish of defeating the God of Destruction. Along with the super-sage turned zombie-pup Cerberus, Zed meets a host of other companions on his quest to become stronger. One of my favourites being my wallet, I mean the human King Misedor. The story is exactly what it says on the tin, but I enjoyed the main cast and found their personal growth to be humorous in the way they went about it.
While in the story, Super Reincarnation takes you to different worlds it functions as a different system in gameplay. You can use it on any character between battles, sacrificing Mana to extract the new resource Karma. Karma is then spent to increase capabilities and new abilities like extra throwing range. The Netherworld Hospital is in name only, as units are now auto-healed and revived at no extra cost, so now it’s only there to collect rewards from. Characters can be enhanced at the Juice Bar, spending Mana and Hell (money) to increase stats, class proficiency, and weapon mastery. Weapon skills have been removed, but other standard aspects of the series like Evilities and Item World are still in place. One addition I like is the D-Merits, which are individual character achievements that earn rewards. For some reason, the hub has a loading screen for such a small area, even though you can take shortcuts to these features.
The swathe of changes makes customization easier than ever, but the game is lacking in some respects. Players might be disappointed to see the number of generic classes in the game have been cut by more than half, even with the addition of new ones like Evil Eye. Furthermore, monsters themselves are functionally the same as humanoid units (though Prinnies still explode of course). They use the same weapons, they can throw units normally, and magichange does not exist in this entry. It’s an odd choice, and I don’t see the point of this change especially when they’ve taken so many monsters out.
A notable addition to this entry is the auto-battle feature allowing you to sit back and let the Demonic Intelligence (D.I) do all the hard work. Paired with an option to auto-restart battles, this allows for easy hands-off grinding, and the numbers of this game seem inflated to match it. While my initial impressions were that it didn’t seem all that bright, the default settings can get through a large portion of the maps in the campaign. After passing some bills in the Dark Assembly, you can individually customize any unit's D.I. You can set when certain actions should be done and to whom in a train of thought. These are linked up on a chart with pathways for whether the conditions are met or not. You can get pretty detailed with it, and it seems primed to help with Item World mechanics. There are templates you can use to better understand it or just save yourself time.
Unfortunately I didn’t find anything that would help units navigate maps with teleporting or avoid more dangerous geo panels with D.I. It would have been nice to not allow this option in the campaign until after completing a stage (or only in the Item World) but that’s got more to do with my lack of self-control than anything. If nothing else, it’s a good way to deploy all my units onto the map faster.
There are a few interesting maps (and only a couple of which I found visually appealing) but largely it’s quite standard. Given that not every campaign level can be beaten with Auto-Battle, I think we could’ve had some more complex stages. A few levels, like the shipping yard, made it really hard to see enemy units lined between containers without zooming all the way out. The camera follows the cursor, but zoom and rotation are still restricted which feels especially odd now that the game is fully 3D.
On the battlefield I think the change to 3D models looks rather nice and it suits the art style. As the game runs a bit poorly on Nintendo Switch there are performance options, but I’d only pick them over graphics if you want to hurt your eyes. Not only do units become more noticeably jaggy but the screen appears to be quite blurred, especially in handheld mode.
Some special moves looked really nice, but disappointingly they all cut to another area and only show on the map as numbers (even healing spells). Typically, franchises might make a transition from 2D to 3D in order to make things easier, and yet this entry has removed team attack animations and made cutscenes look god awful. Scenes may take place on the battlefield but the poses are limited and stiff; there’s no facial expression or lip movement at all. It makes emotional scenes appear especially bad when there are characters floating in the air. These scenes seem to be pre-rendered as the alt colors do not appear in them. The illustrations are still beautiful and it would’ve been much better if they stuck to visual novel portrait-style scenes.
The music is nice, featuring some returning tracks, and I like the hub world’s theme. All major scenes are voice acted with Cerberus being a stand out voice. Unfortunately they’re let down by the visual presentation.
Disgaea 6 makes a lot of changes, not all of which are for the best, leading to a somewhat unsatisfying experience. The autobattle system is useful in some aspects but could cheapen the experience for those who don’t restrain themselves. Parts of the campaign, like constantly having to fight the God of Destruction at the end of each chapter, got extraordinarily tiring. Due to streamlining, the systems in and outside of battle shouldn’t be hard to grasp for new players. Yet I feel a lot of returning players will find this entry inadequate and not just because of missing classes.