Review: Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited (PlayStation Vita)

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation Vita 4,286 views 4 likes 13 comments
Reviewed by Brandon Boui, posted Aug 8, 2014
Aug 8, 2014
  • Release Date (NA): August 12, 2014
  • Release Date (EU): August 29, 2014
  • Release Date (JP): January 30, 2014
  • Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
  • Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
  • Genres: Turn-based RPG
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited for the PS Vita was a Playstation 3 title under the name Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. It was released for the PS Vita in January 2014, and serves as the fourth title in the Disgaea series. The series is best known for its complex turn-based RPG style of gameplay, which offers hours and hours of fun and games.
Brandon Boui

Introduction

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited was definitely one of my most anticipated titles and even spurred me into purchasing a Playstation Vita. Having played all of the previous titles in the series, it felt like the series was reaching its climax, as the succeeding titles often felt weaker than their predecessor, which should not really come as a surprise. It's like movie sequels - they get worse. I started out with Disgaea back on the Nintendo DS. I dumped a ridiculous and ungodly amount of time into that game, having spent hundreds of hours raising my teams and getting the best inventories possible. It quite possibly fights with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for the Game Boy Advance as the best turn-based strategy game, and Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is definitely no exception when it comes to excelling. Quite possibly, for me, it ranks very closely to the original Disgaea game.

Version played on Playstation Vita (Downloadable copy), ~39 hours playtime

Plot - Sardines, Anyone? (Spoilers Apply!)

Disgaea 4 follows the plot line of Valvatorez, a vampire once considered a tyrant, until he bestows a reckless promise to a woman some four hundred years prior that he would not drink blood until he instilled a sense of fear into her. As we might figure, it does not really bode so well for him, and the woman dies before he could fulfill his wish. And now, he serves as an instructor for newly recruited penguins called Prinnies, who have to serve out a punishment for their foul deeds in their past life. The story follows the government's plan to wipe out the Prinny population, something which angers Valvatorez because he had made a promise to give the Prinny a sardine for their efforts. (The guy loves his sardines...) Well, anyway, Valvatorez and his minion/wingman Fenrich plot a rebellion against the corrupterment and try to gain the support of allies within the Netherworld, which includes a number of allies that are befriended along the way, and in the end, the president of the Netherworld is taken down.

The story is very quirky, and very much like previous titles in the franchise, but this game takes a noticeably different route by adding more elements of political intrigue and discusses issues of political corruption. It seems that Nippon Ichi exhausted their list of school-yard style dialogues, but in general the change to the script was very nice and kept for a very fresh adventure.

Game Mechanics

Typical game flow in this title centers around the main base, Hades. In the main base, the player can heal their comrades, create new comrades, purchase equipment, healing items, and participate in the Item World and Senate (called Cam-Pain HQ). More on those features later, but in essence, the story goes as follows: player begins in Hades, restocks gear and allies, goes to story gate, completes mission, unlocks next mission, and repeat.

The Hades Hub - Prepare to Spend A LOT Of Time Here

The majority of the customization, which is extensively deep, is within the player base of Hades. I'm at forty hours of the game, having just completed the main story line, and there's still an impossibly large amount of material that I can cover. Hades still has a lot of things that can happen, and a lot of the game takes place here. The main base contains the following locations:

Dimension Gate

Access story missions here. Will of course add more missions upon completion of previous tasks.

Item World

The item world is a complex area. It's one of the very great parts of what made Disgaea great for me. In this game, equipment pieces have levels. What transpires here is a way to raise the strength of your favorite pieces of equipment, by participating in a gauntlet of dungeons that are designed to test your endurance in a way. You are thrown into randomized battlefields, and can only exit at increments of ten levels. Think of the Ruins and Tower aspect of Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones. Except, the dungeons are ridiculously long. Yet the deeper you go, the better your weapons shall be. In the previous games, I spent many hours in here to get the legendary equipment. While time consuming, it definitely makes the game that much more complex as items have lives of their own in a way.

Evility Shop

The Evility Shop is divided into two separate branches - Skills and Evility. Skills are individual skills that each character can learn through the payment of Mana. These skills are battle related skills that each character can utilize. They can be boosted here as well, to make them stronger. In addition, these same skills can be weakened. There are also passive related skills, called Evility, that could be learned, and these characteristic skills makes the character more tolerant to a variety of situations, such as defensive increases or status increases.

Equipment Shops and General Stores

Very simple idea here - you can purchase equipment and items to take with you on your quests here. The unique part here is that repeated purchases will increase your customer rank so that you can purchase higher quality equipment.

Memory Shop

This zone does not have a ton of explanation here, but allows you to view your old cutscenes of the story in case you missed anything.

Data Shop

This zone allows the player to view their records and achievements throughout their play time. It also compares the player to other players in the world.

Multiplayer Area

There's a multiplayer area present in the title, but it wasn't really accessible in the review copy of this game. More on that later!

Cam-Pain HQ

The famous Senate feature of the previous titles returns in this title, and it's as fun and quirky as ever. The Senate is used to propose and ratify bills that the player wishes to utilize, which can range from increased stats, experience, and gains to random bills such as enforcing rules so that the player can only battle with Prinnies, or requiring one of the characters to be present in her swim suit. The Senate is like all political battlegrounds - they can be bribed into doing what the player wants. The player can pay off senators for their support in a bill ratification process, or, if faced with exceedingly negative disapproval, can be FOUGHT to pass the bill by force. When bills are being discussed on the floor, the familar Aye/Nay voices return as well! It sounds absolutely hilarious too! YouTuber Brad Ry caught a video of Disgaea 4 footage in which you can actually fight the senate, see below!

New to this is the conquest map. Within the HQ lies a map of sorts, which allows you to send your units out as Deputies to conquer foreign territories to obtain the support needed to master the Netherworld. It's an absolute doozy as you can build and strategically place structures within the map so that your units gain benefits. It adds another additional layer to the already complex cake.

Cheat Store

Yep, you read that right. There's a shop that allows you to "cheat." It's definitely not cheating like infinite items of that sort, but it makes the game go by a little bit easier. Options include being able to increase the amount of currency, mana, and experience gained, but is limited by points that can be input. This helps tremendously because the leveling curve is absolutely ridiculous and huge, as characters have a max level of 9999, which can be reset at the Senate by reincarnation. Prepare yourself for a LOT of grinding.

Battle Mechanics - It's Completely Doable, I Promise!

Battles have more accountability and complexity than any other turn-based strategy games that I've encountered. Having played through titles such as Final Fantasy or traditional eastern role-playing games, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited offers a familiar yet different take on the battle system by including some mechanics that add to the layer of strategy. Some of these elements include being able to pick up allies and tower them up, or fusing units together while in battle to create stronger units temporarily. Of course, these mechanics are not absolute and do have their caveats.

Battle flow is like any turn based RPG game, which runs on a grid system, as characters can be placed and moved in the four main directions. From there, the player can input a series of commands for each character to follow, followed by an Execute option which performs all the selected actions at that time. It's relatively easy to pick up and the game does an excellent job explaining this in its tutorials, which don't feel intrusive and are often part of the main story line to get the player understanding and playing quickly.

Monsters in this title are unique because in battle they can be utilized by their Human counterparts in a process known as Magichange, which turns the ally into a weapon for the human to wield with varying results based on states, and monster class. This is not all absolute, as mentioned above, because it only lasts a few turns and if that ally dies, both characters will no longer be available for usage and will count as two units taken out. Monsters can also fuse together in Fusion, to create a giant monster that has increased statistics. Similar restrictions apply. Personally, I didn't utilize it as much as I should have, as I didn't have a ton of monsters that I wanted to raise, save for a Prinny. I spent a lot of time raising the two main characters and a fighter I started out with.

The attack effects are very flashy and seem overdone at times, with huge numbers for damage, but with the max level being in the thousands, it is no wonder that the values can hit that high. Attacks can be comboed together by placing allied units adjacent to each other and executing an attack with the character that is attacking a monster. I've had a total of four units attack in one sitting in one combo, which definitely made for some fun times. With huge damage numbers there's lots of room for potential in creating cool combos with your party, so have fun and mix something cool up!

Graphics - Charming and Delightful All Around

The graphics, coming from a port of a Playstation 3 title, are absolutely wonderful to behold. The graphics are crisp, clear, and very vibrant. Battle fields look amazing and, even though they share fantasy elements, often are pleasing enough for the eye to keep the eye entertained. The graphic work is top notch and I have to hand it to Nippon Ichi Software for keeping the legacy that is Disgaea going in the right direction, because the game is absolutely stunning on the Playstation Vita. Here are some screen shots of the title below.

Music - Still Sounds Like Disgaea to Me!

The music of this series is memorable in many ways for having this other-worldly feel to it, and it gets better here. There are still some familiar tunes present, such as the shopping facilities present in Hades, and there are a lot of newer tunes within the title as well, that still have the same degree of familiarity that is Disgaea, with some pieces even sounding close to tunes that were observed in previous titles, with modifications. The music is charming enough to keep the player entertained. The music goes in the right direction and again Nippon Ichi Software has to be praised for their efforts.

Other Thoughts

This game is by far one of my favorite in the action and turn-based RPG series. It constantly came close to beating out the Fire Emblem series in my heart as best turn-based RPG, but with Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, I think that it finally managed to dislodge the medieval sword clashing title. Now it's clashing with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. It might even beat that one out too. Its writing is a bit "out there" in terms of interest and content, but it's still got very strong writing. It keeps you coming back for more to see how the story continues to unfold. Even though it's an Eastern RPG at heart, the dialogue is highly understandable to its Western audience and still manages to keep the joke punchlines intact. And at forty hours, I'm still going very strong, having had to redo the story on several occasions due to my team not being strong enough. I haven't even finished the main scenario yet, but I should soon within the coming few days. I should mention that point out because you are going to slip up a lot. This game is going to be very grinding intensive, with the level cap being at 9999. When you screw up in the story, sometimes the story just ends completely, you get a credit sequence, and you're forced to redo the entire story. So save often, or just restart to get a better foothold next time. I had to learn the hard way and do it from scratch several times, having wasted money on equipment instead of healing items.

As the game came out on the Playstation 3 and in Japan for the Playstation Vita in January, it got very positive reviews, with people comparing it to the first Disgaea title. Is it better than the first Disgaea title, though? I actually think it is. Not only did it bring back familiar characters like Laharl, Edna, and Flonne, but it still kept the game incredibly fresh and modern, without feeling dated. Having put in about forty hours, I'm still going very strong and I'm understanding why the critics loved it so much. I loved the first game, and this game is definitely no exception. It's a tough game though that is very rewarding later on when you can stomp on a lot of missions with ease.

The battling system is also loveably complex and with so many things to account for, like Fusion and Magichange, or being able to tower up and create new attacking combos, players will definitely have to think twice before trying to recklessly storm a battlefield. And because each battlefield has elements to consider, such as Geo Blocks, it's definitely not wise to bum rush the objectives. A few minutes of thought could save a few hours of redoing old quests. In regards to old quests, don't hesitate to redo some of them to get that grinding experience in. You're going to be doing a lot of that.

I loved the change of dialogue that this title offered. The dialogue was much more political and dark, with themes involving political corruption at the forefront of the game. The script might ooze it, but it puts subtle and most often explicit humor within it to make it a lot of fun to read and continue with. It doesn't feel boring, and the game is often entertaining enough to coax some chuckles from me.

Should I Buy It?

I haven't played a ton of Vita games, nor have I really played any truly recent titles, so I don't have a ton of base to go off of. But with the fun that I've had with Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, I'd sincerely recommend this title for anyone who loves a good old turn-based RPG. The content is nearly endless, and will coax hundreds more hours off of me while I level everyone up. Even with the cheat mode, it's still an incredible amount of work, and even though it feels like tedium, the game is so rewarding, and as a bonus it gives very vibrant graphics and art with a lovely soundtrack for a perfect package of entertainment for a $40 price tag. This game is definitely a must own game to take home for your Playstation Vita, and you'd be disappointed if you didn't pick it up!

Acknowledgements

I'd like to thank the lovely folks at Nippon Ichi Software for providing me with the review code, and for T-hug here at GBAtemp for making this all happen! I truly enjoyed the title, and am looking forward to the next big RPG hit!

Verdict
Pros
+ Complex with lots of gameplay
+ Great soundtrack, graphics
+ Dialogue is hilarious
+ Adapts to numerous play styles
+ Requires a lot of grinding and training
Cons
- Requires a lot of grinding and training
9 Presentation
The game is very easy to pick up and learn, and the game is presented in such a way so that it doesn't require any knowledge of previous titles or RPG experience. Everything is organized so that it's easy to access.
10 Gameplay
Gameplay has no limits here, with a level cap of 9999. The damages later will hit the millions without problems. The battle mechanics are fresh, there's a lot of different things that the player could do that will take hours. Don't think that this game will be over quickly!
10 Lasting Appeal
Raising units, reincarnating, item world, redoing old missions? There's a LOT to do here!
9.4
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Definitely one of the best Vita games right now. So many things to do means that being bored quickly won't happen. I'm still just on the tip of the iceberg here, and I've been playing for a few days now.
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