Sunday, 31 August 2014

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited

If there's one genre Sony has always catered to it's the Tactical Role-Playing Game (TRPG). From the likes of Vandal Hearts 2 and Final Fantasy Tactics on the original PlayStation, Stella Deus and Phantom Brave on the PlayStation 2, and Valkyria Chronicles and Record of Agarest War on the PlayStation 3, if you're a huge TRPG fan then it's quite likely that your also in the PlayStation camp. This trend is currently continuing on the PS Vita, and like every impeccable TRPG since the PS2 era, it's coming in the form of Disgaea. However, while this may be simply a port of a previously released PS3 title, it's not without some new bells and whistles.

Developed by Nippon Ichi Software and out on the PS Vita comes Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, the best Disgaea to ever be released on a hand-held system. However, before we get into the finer points as to what makes it so awesome, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is actually a port of the 2011 PS3 title, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. While fans of Disgaea would have preferred a brand new title for our PS Vita's, we're certainly not going to turn our nose up to this port, mainly due to the fact that the PS Vita needs all the new titles it can get. That said, this port isn't just a direct port, as it adds some new content to the experience, content that ultimately makes it a much more satisfying and rounded experience compared to that of its PS3 counterpart.

As always in the series, A Promise Revisited is set in the Netherworld, a world ruled by Demons where murder, violence and theft is as routine as going to the shops for bread and milk. However, as the series has always done, to balance itself against the ramifications of its bleak and dark setting the story here is over-the-top, hilarious and just plain wacky. You take the role of Valvatorez, a demon that was once a highly feared tyrant. But since vowing to stop consuming human blood, the key to his power, he has become a lowly Prinny instructor. Prinny's are the reincarnation of human souls that have sinned, which are depicted as small, cute almost Penguin-like creatures. Once Valvatorez finds out that the government of Netherworld is corrupt, he, alongside his loyal friend Fenrich, decides to try and take back the power and choke hold of fear he once had over the people. Yeah, it's all a little silly, but backed up by great voice acting, an endearing script and excellent characterisation throughout; A Promise Revisited delivers narratively by the bucket load.

The gameplay falls in line with pretty much every title in the series so far, but that's a good thing.  As the genre suggests, A Promise Revisited's battles take place on grid-based levels, similar to what you might see on a chessboard. Turn-based by nature, this is a game that demands the player to put thought into every move, item used and attack chosen; one misstep could be your undoing! But while at first A Promise Revisited might seem like a generic TRPG, beyond its exterior it's incredibly in-depth. This depth comes in many different forms and nicely sets the game apart from any TRPG you've played before. For instance, Geo Blocks are areas of the map that, when a character is placed upon it, modify that characters stats. There's also the ability to enter any item and battle enemies within the item, thereby levelling up both it and your entire team. Then there's also the fact that you can set up your own cabinet and have your foreign minister collect bribes and rare items from other players online. These additions to gameplay, already on top of what is truly an exceptional and well balanced combat mechanic, makes A Promise Revisited astoundingly deep and complex.

Now you're thinking, “But I've already bought Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten on the PS3, what new content does this port have?” Good question, reader! It has enough new content to be worthy of a second purchase; some of which is new to the series and some implemented from past games.

Here's some of the new content Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited has compared to its PS3 counterpart:

  • Includes all previously released DLC for Disgaea: A Promise Unforgotten.
  • 4 new characters! Now you can use both Nagi Clockwork and Sister Artina. Additionally, if you have a save game of Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention on your PS Vita, you instantly unlock a further two characters, Rutile and Stella.
  • The Event Viewer, which gives the player the ability to re-watch past cut-scenes.
  • The Cheat Shop (previously in Disgaea D2), which allows the player to change different elements of the game. For instance, the player can change how much money, experience and mana they receive from battling.
  • Character Painter (previously in Disgaea D2), which lets the player change the colour of their characters outfits.
  • The Innocent Warehouse (previously in Disgaea D2), a place in which you can store the innocents collected within the item worlds.
  • Special skills that are unique to Generic Classes such as the Thief, Archer and Mage (previously from Disgaea 3)
  • A new story scenario focusing on Artina and Valvatorez.

Overall A Promise Revisited is a wonderful addition to your PS Vita collection. From its truly detailed and utterly perfect combat mechanic, to its colourful, if a little samey visuals, it all comes together to create the best Disgaea title to ever be released on a hand-held. Though it may be a little overwhelming to a newcomer to the series, don't worry, it may seem daunting but the game does have a nice steady learning curve. That said, if you're not a gamer who is into battling, stat heavy gameplay and excessive grinding, stay well away. If you've already played Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten in 2011 and enjoyed it, trust me, this is well worth the purchase!

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited delivers on the promise made back in 2011 and gets a 5/5.


Denis Murphy

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