Thursday, June 23, 2011

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness Review

How often do you see a guy in this position ANGRY?
Disclaimer: I don't plan on giving any games I review any type of score based on different categories and such, but rather just explain elements of the game that I've found interesting, and ultimately recommend playing or not playing it. Though I will group my comments in similar categories. With that out of the way, let's begin the review! (After the page break, lots of pictures and text!)

Let's start off with the basics. Disgaea is a turn-based Tactical Role-Playing Game. You play as Laharl, the Demon Prince, son of the demon Overlord of the Netherworld, basically hell, who died choking on a pretzel. This may be is a good place to point out that this game seems to go out of its way to make you laugh, both at the characters and the events. The character's reactions are priceless and the expressions are amazing, both the drawings AND the sprites. For being so small, the sprites pack a lot of emotion and are just downright cute.

They don't have enough friends to make a full rainbow.
Who can forget the Prinnies, dood?

The battle system in this game initially reminded me of Final Fantasy Tactics, and still does to some extent. But don't back away now if you weren't all that impressed with Final Fantasy Tactics; I couldn't play more than an hour in that game but already have 73 hours clocked in Disgaea. What sets it apart in my mind is the different battle elements. Any humanoid on your side can lift and throw other teammates and enemies. It's amusing to have your weak healer lift your beefy warrior who's holding a stack of 8 other people then proceed to throw each other all over the map. Throwing enemies on top of each other combines their levels though, so be careful about what you throw!

Another unique element to battles is Geo Panels/Symbols. These are differently colored squares that can give whoever is standing on a particular color a variety of bonuses ranging from lower defense to complete invincibility! Bonuses to the panels depend on the bonuses on the symbols, little triangular, or circular objects that can be thrown or destroyed. Destroying these can result in damage to anything standing on specific colored squares, which includes your own characters so watch out lest you accidentally kill yourself!

Circled objects are the Geo Symbols, while the colored panels are... Geo Panels.
All items and equipment have randomized stats. Meaning whenever you receive an item as spoils from combat or go to buy one at the shop, stats will usually be random. Though I have noticed that certain items will, at the very least, have a tendency to have specific stat bonuses. For example, staves, which are used by mages, will typically have bonuses to SP, used to cast magic, and INT, modifier for magic attack, but how much it is boosted will still be random. But this isn't what bothers me about equipment, what bothers me is that you have 1 equipment slot for weapons and 3 for anything else. I can only picture Laharl with a skirt of belts similar to Lulu from FFX.
Sword and belts onry.
Another neat aspect to the game is the Dark Assembly, where you can create/delete characters, make various proposals for different types of shop inventory, and more. To pass certain proposals you need to convince senators of your proposal. Some will already be on your side while others will be against. To pass the bill you can either give "gifts" to bribe them to support you, or simply beat them into the ground when they oppose you. Though the later isn't suggested early in the game... you'll just get wrecked.

You chose well, Senators.
You also get prizes for getting beat up and healing yourself at the hospital. You get REWARDS FOR DYING AND GETTING PUMMELED NEAR DEATH.

I love this game so far; it's humorous, cute, has tons of playability and is overall a wonderful game. It stands out from many other games I've played and I can't believe that I've missed out on playing it over all these years. Right now I'm only borrowing the PS2 version, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, from a friend (who harassed me to play it and I'm glad they did), but I'm 99.9% likely to buy once I've returned it. There's just too much to it to only rent or borrow. I'd also like to note here that if you do plan on buying it and you have a PSP, definitely go for the remastered PSP version: Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness. It has a new story mode where the main character is Etna!

Final Disclaimer: Now obviously I didn't explain ALL the elements of the game, nor did I explain them all in great detail. I missed Item World in particular which is a very big aspect to the game but I haven't been there much and may just comment on it later! This post is long enough anyway!

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