Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited Review
Poor Vita. Neglected by its creators, fans of the portable often cry for more titles and are left with heartache from Sony and other big developers alike. To the average gamer, there's not much for the system to offer besides ports of (great) indie titles and PS4 Remote Play functionality, making the handheld unable to stand on its own two feet as a gaming device.
For fans of JRPGs, however, the platform is a completely different story. Niche developers have created a variety of good (and not so good) RPGs on Sony's device, and this year quite a number of them have made it out of Japan and into English-speaking territories. One such title is Nippon Ichi's own Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited. While this is a port of a PlayStation 3 title, the additional content and enhancements make it well worth the price of admission on its own, and may very well be one of the best Vita titles to release this year.
A Promise Revisited stars one ex-Tyrant Valvatorez, a vampire who has lost his powers after vowing to never drink human blood again until he has fulfilled his promise. Now a lowly Prinny Instructor in Hades, a prison for demons, he spends his days eating sardines while training Prinnies to be used as... well, the abusable slaves they are.
However, when the governing body of Hades, called the Corrupternment, schemes to exterminate the Prinnies as a result of Prinny overpopulation, Valvatorez sets out on a plan (concocted by his very faithful servant) to overthrow the Corrupternment and become the President of the Netherworld - after feeding those kidnapped Prinnies those sardines he promised, of course.
As expected with any Disgaea title, A Promise Revisited is full of humor and witty dialogue. However, Disgaea 4's tale may possibly be the weakest point of the package. The overall plot and the 'twists' within are fairly cookie-cutter, and while the writing might be funny, the characters are rather boring and predictable. That doesn't make Disgaea 4's plot bad; in fact, it's still pretty good and gives you plenty of reasons to work through the main story and the plethora of post game scenarios.
Instead, the reason that A Promise Revisited's plot is the low point isn't because the story is bad, but because the other parts of the game shine that much brighter. With all of its new elements and enhancements lifted from Disgaea D2, the Vita version of Disgaea 4 may very well be the most enjoyable Disgaea title yet.
First, there are the Geo Blocks. An extension of the Geo Panels from other games in the series, Geo Blocks are physical objects you can lift and move around the battlefield that offer various benefits and detriments to both allies and enemies.
Most of the maps in A Promise Revisited are built with clever Geo Panel and Block tricks in mind, lending an almost puzzle-like aspect to clearing maps. It will not always enough to brute force your way through each stage. Often times, the Geo set-up will force you to think your actions through.
As you defeat enemies, you'll earn experience and mana. Mana plays a much larger role in Disgaea 4 than it has in some of the other entries. You need mana to promote your characters to higher classes; call the Senate to enact new classes; and other gameplay goodies, but also to buy and upgrade skills and Evilities (which are essentially equippable character quirks). The importance of mana makes it very valuable in A Promise Revisited, and it's important to manage your mana effectively. It might be a little too vital, as it never feels like you'll have enough to do everything you want to do with your main party even after grinding an excessive amount..
Thankfully, the Cheat Shop makes a return from Disgaea D2, and it makes any grinding more fruitful and less tedious. With this feature, you can alter the amount of experience, mana, and HL (currency) you receive after defeating enemies.
Rather than being overpowered and ruining the game's balance, though, you use the Cheat Shop by using a limited number of points. Taking points away from one of those three categories lets you put points into the others. So, if you take a hit to the amount of HL you get, you can in exchange get more experience or mana (or both in a lesser amount). The Cheat Shop can also raise the levels of enemies, so if you find a map you particularly enjoy fighting on, you can use this to your advantage by making it a viable grinding spot.
Finally, there's the Cam-Pain HQ. There, you place your characters on certain spots on a map of the Netherworld. By placing obtainable Evil Symbols and aligning your characters around them, they can receive different benefits, depending on the Symbol that's been placed. You can also assign Evil Deputies which grants these individuals additional benefits or allows them to visit other player's Senate hearings and influence the vote.
Speaking of which, there are a fair amount of online features you can take advantage of in Disgaea 4. Other than the above mentioned Deputy entering other Netherworlds and attending the Senate (which can net you some bribe items), you can create your own maps for others to download and play. The Pirate Editor makes a return, letting players create their own Pirate Ships that will attack others in the Item World. There's even the option to look at everyone's combined game stats, which may seem silly, but this is Disgaea after all, and Disgaea games love numbers.
In terms of new content for the Vita port, you get all the DLC from the PlayStation 3 version of the game. In addition, if you have a save file of the Disgaea 3 Vita port, you get two additional characters.
Finally, there's a few additional post story scenarios and the new high-level Peta spells to look forward to. Disgaea 4 already has an incredible amount of content, and A Promise Revisited fills the Vita game cart to the brim with fun content to work through.
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is a very, very solid SRPG, with a decent story and a metric ton of mechanics to keep you busy for hours. Tedious grinding is practically eradicated, leaving plenty here for anyone to enjoy whether they only want to play through the main story or delve deeper into the massive post game content. Given the enhancements from Disgaea D2, this is the best Disgaea title yet gameplay-wise, and it being on a portable only sweetens the deal.
If you're on the fence about picking up a copy of A Promise Revisited, go ahead and grab it. You won't regret it.