Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny – Review
Follow Genre: Turn-based strategy, RPG
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: Switch, PS4
Tested on: Switch

Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny – Review

Site Score
8.4
Good: Addictive strategic gameplay
Bad: Clunky camera controls in battles
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The Disgaea series might not have the same level of popularity with the mainstream audience as franchises like Pokémon or Final Fantasy, but what it does have is a very dedicated niche following. Given that it’s been six years since Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance debuted, the fanbase has been waiting eagerly for the latest mainline entry in the series. Well, the wait is finally over, and now NIS is treating us to the Western release of Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny. The game has actually been out in Japan since January, but now that it’s available to audiences in other parts of the world, we can finally find out whether the wait was worth it.

Story

Disgaea 6 introduces new protagonist Zed, who at first glance appears to be your average zombie inhabitant of the Netherworld. Looks can be deceiving, however, and Zed is a lot more powerful than what you’d expect -in fact, the only being that he can’t best is an actual God of Destruction. The rivalry between Zed and this God is the main driving force for Disgaea 6’s main storyline, which is told in the form of a series of playable flashbacks that occur as Zed tells his tale to Overlord Ivar. These detail Zed’s rise to his current level of power. At least, that’s the basic idea, but once the story gets going, you’ll find that there is a lot more to what drives Zed to go after the God of Destruction.

We’re not going to delve into spoiler territory for what follows in the next 40-ish hours, but rest assured that you’re getting an off-beat adventure filled with cheesy humor and quirky characters, such as Zed’s wise-cracking zombie canine companion Cerberus. If you’re new to the series, you’ll be happy to learn that you don’t need to have prior knowledge of the Disgaea games to enjoy this story either. That said, beneath the tacky jokes and flashy exterior of Disgaea 6 beats the undead heart of an emotional, -if somewhat sappy- story, that fleshes out Zed’s personality and his relationship with a character whose identity we won’t spoil here.

Graphics

The colorful visual style that is seen throughout the Disgaea franchise has become a hallmark of the series, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Disgaea 6 isn’t any different in this regard. The game employs the familiar chibi-esque character designs that the fanbase has come to know and love, although the flashy colors and over-the-top character designs have always been divisive, especially juxtaposed against the more serious tactical gameplay. The cartoonish aesthetics are adequate to get the point across, but they’re not overly detailed, which means that the game isn’t too taxing on the Switch’s processor, and the game performs adequately, with only minimal frame drops or other visual issues. This is especially apparent when performing special attacks, which are shown through surprisingly fluid animations.

That said, when playing the game in handheld mode, some of the visual fidelity is lost, resulting in a rather fuzzy image quality, especially during battles or while wandering around the Netherworld. Fortunately, this isn’t an issue that is big enough to detract from the overall gameplay experience. We should also point out that some of the randomly generated ally characters that join Zed’s party use the exact same character models as certain generic enemies, down to the same color scheme. This can be confusing in the heat of battle and although palette swaps become available from the Dark Assembly as you progress through the game, it takes a while before you are actually able to apply these. Again, it’s a minor issue but it can be annoying during the early stages of your playthrough.

Sound

The soundscape for Disgaea 6 is undoubtedly going to be the most divisive aspect of the game. The frantic and chaotic music that accompanies Zed -and by extension the player- during their time with the game might fit with the overall atmosphere and aesthetics of the Netherworld, but it can get on your nerves. In the same vein, the voice acting is deliberately hammy and over the top. If you’re a fan of the exaggerated performances, you’ll be observing the game’s dialogue scenes with glee but if you think this style of acting is annoying, you’re going to be in for a rough ride.

Gameplay

If you haven’t played a Disgaea title before, rest assured that the barrier of entry for this strategic RPG isn’t high. The first chapter of the game comprises a series of tutorial levels that will familiarize anyone with the battle mechanics. The core of Disgaea 6’s experience consists of a series of turn-based battles on a grid map, where the player takes control of a party consisting of Zed and up to nine of his allies as they take on a variety of enemies. At first glance, Disgaea’s core gameplay seems simple, but there is a surprising amount of strategic depth at play here, which is what hooks you in and makes the game addictive. Despite the flashy and chaotic appearance, actually playing the game feels relatively slow as you take your time to carefully position your units and set up combo attacks, which are the key to winning battles.

Anyone looking for a meaty tactical experience, that is still accessible, is going to love the turn-based battles. There is limitless potential when it comes to setting up combos and it’s always satisfying to see your attacks play out after you spend a lengthy amount of time carefully deploying your units. Despite the pressure that is amplified by the game’s fast-paced music, there is actually no time component in play here, so you can take your time determining what your best course of action is. The only gripe we had with the battles was with the in-game camera, which isn’t dynamic and only allows you to view the battlefield from four preset angles, which can make it annoying to move your characters to the desired position on the grid-based battlefield. That said, we’re not going to delve too deeply into the finer details of the battle mechanics, as there are too many elements present to explain everything. Rest assured, however, that the game does a very good job at easing newcomers into how to perform specific actions through the tutorial levels.

Although turn-based battles are Disgaea 6’s bread and butter, the Netherworld hub area is incredibly important as well. When you first arrive here, you’ll find that most of the available features aren’t active yet, but as you play through the story, you’ll unlock new stuff gradually. The Netherworld hosts a selection of vendors and allows you to upgrade your party, recruit additional party members and purchase new weapons. It also plays host to some of the more quirky elements of the game, such as the hospital which -despite the name- doesn’t heal you but gives you rewards based on how often you use healing items, how often a party member is defeated, etc.

You’ll also find the ubiquitous DLC shop in the Netherworld, alongside a bulletin board that provides side quests, and perhaps most interesting of all: the Dark Assembly. Here you can spend Mana to make propositions to the senators, which, if approved, will grant you in-game benefits. The catch is that these propositions are voted for and you’ll need to obtain 51% of the vote to reap the reward. Thankfully, you’re able to bribe the officials to swing the vote in your direction, but even when you’re boosting the odds, you’re pretty much never 100% certain of the outcome. It’s a prolific example of how Disgaea 6 incorporates interesting and unique mechanics that set it apart from its turn-based tactical RPG competitors. The Dark Assembly also hosts a resurrection feature where Zed can use “Super Reincarnation” in order to reset his level to 1 in exchange for becoming more powerful. Given how quickly Zed can gain levels -especially by replaying older maps- this is one of the best tools you have at your disposal, even though it takes some time to get used to how you can best take advantage of it.

The tactical depth present in the battles, combined with the customizability and randomness of the Netherworld makes for a game that provides plenty of challenges to veterans and newcomers alike, and it ensures that no two runs of Disgaea 6 will play the same. Although the game provides plenty of bang for your buck, with a complete playthrough taking roughly forty hours, there is plenty of incentive to replay the title and try out new strategies.

Conclusion

Fans of the Disgaea series can rest assured: Disgaea 6 offers up an addictive, engaging title with deep strategic gameplay that remains accessible to newcomers. NIS has managed to create a battle system that is easy to learn but hard to master. The game’s aesthetics and especially its sound design are sticking to the series’ roots, albeit slightly more polished, which is only logical given how long the title has been in the oven. Scratch away the cartoonish visuals and what’s left is one of the best turn-based tactical RPGs on the Switch. So, even if you’re unfamiliar with the Disgaea series, Disgaea 6 is definitely worth taking a look at. If you’re still not entirely convinced, give the free demo a try and there’s a good chance that you’ll be hooked.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
SebastiaanRaats


1 Comment

  1. […] thing, and they are a showcase that NIS has more up their sleeve than simple reimaginings of the Disgaea formula. As tends to be the case with games in this genre, the meat of the experience is in the […]

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    0 people found this helpful
    Was this review helpful?
    Yes
    No

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.