Disgaea 2 PC Review
Despite being a fan of strategy RPGs, somehow the Disgaea series had always slipped by me. When NIS America announced back in 2015 that they were going to bring the series to PC, I figured this was a perfect place to jump in.
Fast-forward about a year and now Disgaea 2 has now made its way to the platform. This sequel focuses on a new set of characters and mostly acts independently from the original, although a couple Disgaea 1 characters do make an appearance.
Disgaea 2 centers on Adell, a teenage boy from a village trying to undo a curse from the Demon Overlord Zenon.
Due to an early game event, Adell ends up accompanied by Zenon's daughter, Rozalin, and the two head off to find Zenon. They have different reasons for seeking the overlord, and the game showcases the journey and conflicts the two share on the way.
Mechanically, Disgaea 2 refines several of the elements introduced in the original Disgaea, if only slightly.
For the most part, Disgaea games work as you would expect SRPGs to work - create characters from a set of classes, which can unlock new classes as you progress through the game. Stronger equipment can be purchased from the store as you progress through the game - the more equipment you buy, the better equipment becomes available.
Disgaea certainly has plenty of unique elements mixed into its core mechanics as well. The geo-panel system returns, where colored spots on the grid are marked by some effect, such as boosted stats or restrictions on what moves can be performed there. The bonuses (or limiters) active on these geo-panels can be manipulated by moving or destroying certain geo-symbols on the map.
This system adds just enough variety to each strategy where not only is unit selection and positioning important when tackling a level, but also how you manage the panel bonuses on each map. Certain levels nearly require you to flip the panels in your favor before you can effectively take on the enemy units.
The PC port itself is functionally sound, but basic. In fact, NIS America included less configuration options in this game than they did for the original Disgaea. Toggles for depth-of-field and SSAO are gone this time around. Personally, I don't mind this because I preferred how the game looked without those new visual toggles anyway.
Disgaea 2 on PC does have some character filters you can select from, but using these gives a weird blurry-smooth look to the character sprites. I preferred the original look of the sprites, even if it is clear the they were not initially created to be rendered at high resolutions.
Overall, Disgaea games have this distinct "loose-ness" to them that really allow you to bend (and break) the game at will. There is an incredible amount of freedom in what you can do in creating your team and configuring your party. It can be a little daunting at first before you really understand the best ways to develop your characters.
It is satisfying figuring out how to arrange your squad and building up super-units with ridiculous stats and damage potential.
Disgaea games have a lot more to offer outside of the main story, and you could spend hundreds of hours with the game's Dark Levels, Item World, Land of Carnage and other post-game content. If you really love digging deep into character creation and progression, there is an incredible amount of content available to you.
Unfortunately, Disgaea 2's narrative elements are incredibly plain. I felt like I had played the game before, when I hadn't, because the path the plotline takes is extremely predictable and uncreative. While story events are sensible enough not to be insulting, I found it to be largely forgettable. This is made even worse considering how much dialog the game has.
While there is some amusing conversations and interactions mixed into the story, a lot of it was reiterating plot points that were already apparent to begin with.
The characters, too, are exactly what you expect them to be; developing throughout the story in expected ways. There's little interest to be had in the plot or characters because there's nothing unique about them that hasn't been done many times before. I also felt that the game retreaded some of the themes done in the original Disgaea, which certainly isn't ideal.
The Disgaea series offers a slightly different flavor of strategy RPGs that you can't find anywhere else. The sheer flexibility available is staggering, and anybody interested in this genre should give these Disgaea ports a try, as long as you don't mind the cookie-cutter story and characters.