Do you like strategy RPGs, big numbers, and seemingly-endless grinding? Sure you do![prebreak]1[/prebreak] Disgaea is a fantastic series known for its satirical take on a genre that largely takes itself seriously, with titans like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics known far and wide. Walking a different path entirely, Disgaea puts forwards a uniquely bizarre experience, and Disgaea 6 goes further to tweak the formula in a few fairly significant ways. With a free demo currently available giving you full access to the game up to the end of Chapter 2, I'm diving in to see what's new and why you should be interested in the latest game of this weird series.
If you've seen any of the promotional material for this game, you'll know what to expect story-wise. There's a bigger and badder overlord wreaking havoc in the netherworlds, destroying all in its path for no apparent reason. With the Darkest Assembly in chaos, a young zombie rises up to announce... that he's already beaten the bad guy. What follows is the story and exactly what the heck went on for the weakest character type to have risen to the top. Much like previous Disgaea games, the setup isn't the most significant, but serves as a decent backbone to the gameplay that follows. You have your usual humour and fantastic voice acting on show, two highlights of the series for me.
The third dimension isn't always kind.
Before diving into the meat of the game though, you'll probably notice one big change from previous titles: the graphics. Gone are the sprites of old laid upon an isometric setting. We welcome in 3D character models for the first time in the series, which is an odd thing to be saying in 2021. While I like the idea of this, it comes at a heavy cost in terms of performance. For reasons beyond my mortal comprehension, the game runs abysmally on default settings. I can only hope this is addressed in future updates, but with the game released six months ago in Japan, it seems unlikely. The game is saved by the fact you can change the settings to favour performance, but you'll see a significant graphical hit when playing portably, with the game looking blurrier than even Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It can take some time to adjust to, but if you love Disgaea as much as I do, you will adjust to it. More than 100 hours into this two chapter demo at the time of writing, it's time to look at the gameplay itself.
To sum it up in two words: it's Disgaea. At its core, it's still Disgaea. Though models are now in 3D, they're still stood atop an isometric grid, engaging in the usual turn based antics you'd expect from an SRPG. In a turn, you can move and throw your allies, before deciding whether to attack with one of a basic attack or a special skill. Writing about it like this, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is just another SRPG for the pile. Disgaea 6 is different because of numbers. Different even to its predecessors. And these aren't just numbers, these are big numbers. In a single hit, I've managed to do 571,718,898,292,560,701 damage, and that wasn't just me slamming my hands onto a number pad. As a series, Disgaea has traditionally been unhinged in how far it lets you take grinding and character development, but this game takes it to a new extreme. There's a lot that goes into supporting this.
Big numbers? Big numbers.
Much like an onion and an ogre, Disgaea has layers; there's more to big stats than you'd think. What you'd think to be first and foremost is your character's level. In the demo, this maxes out at 9,999 as it has done in previous titles, but later in the story, this cap can be raised to an absurdly large 99,999,999. As your level increases, so too do your stats. That part is simple. This game also makes reincarnation a far more interesting experience, allowing you to distribute "Karma" to give stat bonuses and permanent boosts to damage, movement, and other useful things. This richer Super Reincarnation system serves as the main character Zed's driving force, with him also having a unique skill that boosts his stats by 1% per reincarnation. Every character benefits from reincarnation though, and you'll find units that have reincarnated a few times to be stronger for it.
Will you hit numbers like mine by just reincarnating and leveling though? Probably not. Which brings us nicely onto the Juice Bar. In this magical new facility you can use accumulated experience, mana, and stat extracts to give a much needed boost to your squad. On top of being able to boost your level and stats directly, you can also max out your class levels and weapon proficiencies, the former of these needing an unreasonable amount of experience to do through regular play. Boosting stats with extracts isn't something that's exactly new though, what makes the Juice Bar so pleasant is its simplicity. Where in Disgaea 5 I had to capture enemies, convert them to extracts, condense the extracts, and then use a specific character to make sure I got the most value out of them, here I just collect and use at the cost of some HL, the game's main currency. And boy do you need a lot of HL to use the Juice Bar. For each stat point distributed this way, you're expected to cough up 100 HL. Affordable right? Sure, until you're adding stats by the million, and that point comes sooner than you'd think.
As with every game like this, there are hints and tips to grind every form of currency and stat. There are skills that synergise and unusual strategies to exploit, and finding them is one part of what makes the Disgaea as a series so fun. There's so much more to go into, but after a certain point, I may as well just be writing a review for the game. You can expect that around launch in a few weeks. For now though, I can wholeheartedly recommend downloading the demo and giving it a shot. This one's for the grinders, and if you're anything like me, be prepared lose hundreds of hours before the game is even out.