After over thirteen years of waiting, prayers from the masses were finally answered by NIS America in the form of a modified PC re-release of the very first Disgaea game, Disgaea: Hours of Darkness. Noted as one of the top titles in the NIS arsenal as well as one of the best turn based strategy RPGs in the market, Disgaea has long been a favourite of many but has just as long been limited to its Sony console exclusive releases. Disgaea PC finally takes the plunge and opens up this glorious adventure RPG to PC gamers everywhere via Steam, but maybe it should have taken a few more swim lessons first.
Welcome to the Netherworld
Disgaea stands out thanks to the zany netherworld setting it has created and extended throughout the entire franchise. Disgaea takes the liberty of introducing players to a world where it is oh-so-good to be bad with demons standing proud at the top of the food chain and common concepts such as friendship and love are scorned.
Disgaea PC follows the story of the original game introducing players the ever confident prince Laharl who at the start of the game has awoken to find that his father, the might Overloard Krichevskoy has died and that the netherworld has fallen into chaos now that every wannabe high class demon is battling it out for the throne. Together with his tricky vassal Etna and a love-freak angel trainee named Flonne, Laharl sets off to claim his place as the rightful overload in an adventure of endless action and hilarity.
Disgaea stands apart from many games of the genre by offering endless hours of gameplay. The maximum character level is 9999 and with reincarnation feature which allows you to rest a character to level 1 while keeping a portion of their previous stats the potential for play and massive damage is just unreal. Add in the glory of the item world feature which provide a series of randomly generated dungeons to fight through in order to raise the stats on individual items and its becomes unbelievably easy to lose month of yourself in this game without even noticing. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Netherworld Adventures on the PC
With this new platform release a lot of work has gone into making the game PC-friendly both in terms of visuals and controls.
Much of the game can be maneuvered via the mouse cursor making it easy to move through cut scene conversations or position characters on the map for combat. Beyond the mouse controls there is also a pretty straightforward keyboard layout which though at first can a little odd, quickly becomes just as easy and comfortable as using a controller or game pad.
Visually, the game has been given just enough of an update to gel seamlessly with just about any other PC game on the market. What stands out though is the decision by developers to keep the original interface and graphic display as a playable option, allowing players to enjoy either the new sleeker visuals or take a step back into the days of Disgaea’s original release and experience it as it first was. The customization even allows for a meld of the two, creating a truly unique visual experience that any fan can enjoy.
Beyond the visuals, the game takes a step away from the original by including content from its other ported versions such as the PSP exclusive Etna Mode. Sadly, this is the full extent of variation afforded as far as this fan can tell though you never know with the glorious Post Story mode that every Disgaea fan lives for. If only this was the limit to the disappointment that is the much awaited release.
Having waited so long for the opportunity to finally play the first Disgaea story again now with the added comfort of being able to play from my laptop I was almost moved to tears of nostalgia upon seeing the game open up and hearing the oh so nostalgic tune of Whisper of Hell only to have my expectations shredded by the actual gameplay.
While the game is quite responsive and messing around with the visuals was fun at first, Disgaea PC seems to have a quite glaring issue maintaining a decent framerate conducive to actual play. While at first I thought it could possibly be just my bad luck in terms of system requirements it became glaringly obvious as launch day progressed that the chances of having the game run with the ideal FPS was completely luck of the draw. Users of various system types are noting similar issues with some even experiencing more severe graphical issues. Sadly, these include players who have not only met but exceeded the recommended requirement for the game proving once again just how unreliable game porting can be.
Disgaea has long been noted for it’s over-the-top gameplay with insane level grinding capabilities and a battle system that is just outrageous for any game of its kind. With the issues at hand impairing the high paced play seasoned fans have come to expect and newer fans have come to anticipate one can only hope the developers take advantage of the flexibility of the PC system and Steam to release some sort of fix before this would be dream truly becomes an unforgettably disastrous nightmare.
Disgaea remains one of the most fun loving and unique strategy RPG games to ever be released. From the unreal leveling, endless and unpredictable dungeons and beautifully crafted storytelling there is something in there for everyone but even at USD$19.99 on Steam I would either wait for a fix to the ongoing struggle or for a really good Steam Sale to test your luck.