Be warned, the Disgaea franchise isn’t one for the SRPG uninitiated and Disgaea 6 is no different in that regard. Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is the 7th mainline entry in the popular Nippon Ichi Soft flagship property. It sees players follow the exploits of the zombie protagonist – Zed, a boastful undying hooligan. Well that’s what his official discretion says anyway. In truth, he’s actually just a guy trying to protect the ones he cares about most all the while losing bits of himself for the power to do so.
Enter Zed The Zombie
With the help of a zombie dog named Cerberus, Zed gains the ability of super reincarnation. This new ability serves as both an in-game mechanic as well as an important plot element. Through its use Zed is able to reincarnate after every death even stronger than he was before. With each death he is reincarnated into a new dimension then gains new companions while edging closer to his goal. These companions all benefit from his super reincarnation ability as well. In gameplay this results in them all being able to reincarnate via the dark assembly with all their base stats improved and an even higher level cap.
Oh and that’s the thing about the Disgaea series. It’s all about ridiculous levels, damage and other stats ranging into the billions, sorry no, the quadrillions. With such daunting numbers it’s easy to understand why this series may seem intimidating but it’s not the numbers you need worry about. What makes the Disgaea games overwhelming is the share amount of systems it affords the player. From managing mana, karma, D-merits, the dark assembly, Demonic intelligence, squads, quests, team combos, stacking characters and oh so much more… We could spend all day going over each system but if we did then this review would span a good few hours. Instead let’s just focus on the newer ones.
Super Reincarnation is the name of the game
In Disgaea 6 you’re able to return any of your characters to level 1 while retaining their stats. In this process you’ll also gain Karma to then further improve your stats and skills. If and when you choose to do this is entirely up to you. It is however recommended to do so at a higher level and to use up all your unneeded mana as you’ll lose all of it upon completing the process. Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny also has high-speed modes, auto battle and auto repeat (battles) for easy grinding. Now whether or not the grindy nature of these games can be seen as a flaw or not will depend on your affinity towards them. If you’re a fan then you’ll love em as much if not more than we did.
Other notable additions include D-Merits which are like a personal achievement system for each character. As you improve your characters, you’ll meet these requirements and thus gain rewards. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to check each character’s status menu to do so.
Pro-tip: Press Y to claim all rewards for a character at once instead of claiming them one by one.
And finally we arrive at the Juice Bar – a system which allows the player to share EXP, Mana and other stats with any character, for a price of course. This comes in handy when leveling up new or newly Super Reincarnated characters. All of this and then some is what makes Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny so grand yet daunting all the same. Thankfully the devs do drip feed you these mechanics throughout the surprisingly easy main campaign. You’ll breeze through dimension after dimension but keep in mind that the campaign in a Disgaea game is really just an extremely robust tutorial. Where you’re truly tested is in the Item World and post game content.
Since the Disgaea Games are Strategy RPGs, you’ll be placing units on a grid with the express goal of defeating your opposition or meeting certain objectives similar to Utawarerumono and God Wars Future Past. As with most games in this genre; position, level and direction a character is facing is important. Add in team attacks, counters and other abilities and you have an SRPG of Dreams!!!
The SRPG of Dreams!!!
Gameplay aside, Disgaea 6 is the first fully 3D game in the franchise, a shift we fear may alienate some fans and not for the reasons you may think. Unlike D5 which runs at a buttery smooth 60fps, D6 sits between 30 and 20 Frames per second depending on if you’re running it in performance or graphic mode. In Graphic mode there’s noticeable slowdown when immediately compared to performance mode. This is mostly noticeable in docked mode and not handheld. Possibly due to the switch not needing to render a 1080p image. If you avoid switching between both modes frequently then you may appreciate Graphics mode despite its framerate. It’s the way we played most of the game and it was perfectly fine. If not you can opt for better frames but at a significant cost to render resolution. The best way to describe the look in performance mode is that it looks as though someone rubbed grease on the screen. Oh and you’ll notice it even more in handheld mode.
All in all, despite its performance shortcomings, Disgaea 6 is still a great looking game. Thanks in part to it’s anime style aesthetic and hyper stylized special moves. Some may find the look of Disgaea 5 to be better but most of that may be related to the framerate. With both running at 60 FPS, D6 carries the torch well (so come on Nintendo, just give us a Switch Pro already). Just imagining the look of these new 3D models running on a more powerful platform has us salivating profusely. Oh and that’s not just because Melodia is not censored in all her shiggly goodness.
GG NISA. May all your future releases be as gloriously uncensored as this one.
Considering that there are a lot of fan favorites from previous entries making a return, more power will go a long way. Out of the box we get Adell, Roslin, Laharl, Etna, Flonne, Laharl-chan and Asagi. Characters from D3, 4 and 5 also make an appearance as paid DLC along with free Vtubers DLC at launch. Each DLC character has a battle with a unique story attached for recruiting them. It’s a nice touch though it could have been done even better. Sadly DLC characters don’t change interactions despite showing up in each other’s recruitment mission. This sucked especially for those like Adell and Roslin who actually have a nice relationship going. So when battling Adell with Roslin in your party (as you would because of course you’d get the waifu first) there is no special dialogue between them. It’s a missed opportunity for fanservice akin to Dragon Ball Fighterz but alas that’s all we’ll say about that.
With full English and Japanese voice acting for all characters during the main campaign and DLC missions, all should be satisfied. Each character sounds great and that soundtrack is brilliantly as Disgaea as it gets. Special mention to Akuma Drops 2020, Missing You and You Go Girl 2020. With Tenpei Sato at the helm, it’s no wonder the OST is as splendid as it is. Keep in mind this is the composer behind every Disgaea title as well as notable others including: Trillion: God of Destruction and The Witch and the Hundred Knight.
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is a solid entry in the franchise that I can easily recommend to fans of SRPGs. If you’re not into this genre then I’d say approach it with caution. It’s not the most difficult game to get into but it’ll quickly become more and more complex. If played regularly enough it should be easy to keep up with all of it’s mechanics but take a few days or a week from it and most may find themselves completely overwhelmed. It should also be noted that I’m not the most experienced with this franchise so I’d recommend getting other opinions, most notably those of my fellow compatriots on the HP/MP Podcast who have also reviewed it. Shadow is the most familiar with the series while Blake happens to be the novice among the bunch. Check them all for much more perspective on the game links in the description below.
The Review copy for Disgaea 6 used for this review was provided by it’s Publisher NIS America.