It is a rare thing when you find a game that’s willing to grab your hand and take you on a month long journey or more. It is rare to find a game where you can spend hours simply fine tuning and planning, without even continuing the story. And it is rare to find a game where, even after countless hours, you’ll want to play it over again and have the option to do so in a completely new style. Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is one of these rare games. If one of the major factors you use to decide which games to buy is how many hours you’ll be getting out of it, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited will be a great purchase at any price.
A Promise Revisited was released in North America and Europe in August of 2014, and is a remake of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, which was released in 2011 for the Playstation 3. This reboot contains all of the downloadable content available in the original PS3 game as well as some new additions like new playable characters, the Cheat Shop, character promotions, and more minor changes and some familiar things players may recognize from Disgaea 2.
The story follows the main character of Lord Valvatorez, a prior tyrant vampire now responsible for training Prinnies, human souls that are trying to work off their sins. Lord Valvatorez has an unnatural love of sardines that he wishes to share with his Prinnies on the day of their graduation. Unfortunately, the Netherworld has grown too full of Prinnies and the Corrupterment (a political group in charge of running the Netherworld) wishes to simply get rid of them to make room for everyone else. Lord Valvatorez’s Prinnies are unfortunately kidnapped and it is up to him to rescue them because he refuses to break a promise, the main reason he was stripped of his powerful role. It’s a ridiculous story, but the fact that it is so zany ultimately made it work for me. Valvatorez adds to the wacky nature of the game with his over-exaggerated presentation, and his trusty sidekick Fenrich-a shirtless, muscular werewolf demon-is always there by his side to keep his head out of the clouds as much as possible, all while praising his Lord as much as he can.
Disgaea 4 is a tactical RPG game that will seem familiar at its core to those who have enjoyed games like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics in the past. Your characters and the enemy will stand and move on small square grids that make up a larger battlefield. Each turn, you can do things like move, attack, use abilities, or use an item. Some characters can even fuse with one another or become a weapon for another character. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses, as well. While Fenrich can move an extremely far distance each turn, other characters may struggle to move half as far. You have your melee characters, your ranged characters, your mages, your healers, all of which should give a clear understanding of how each character is going to play throughout the game.
Battles start with the enemies already laid out on the grid with your players ready to come out of a portal. You can move and attack with as many of your characters as you want, executing attacks or abilities whenever you want, and then finally ending your turn. Then it will be the enemy’s turn to do the same thing, and on it goes. It may sound simple at the start, but the complexity of battle is one of the strong points of Disgaea. It’s called a tactics game for a reason, and assuming you can just attack without planning will result in characters dying, which will either force you to reload your last save or heal them for a hefty price after you beat the level. As mentioned before, some characters can fuse with one another or become the weapon of another character currently on the battlefield. Attacking when you’re next to at least one other ally will result in a more powerful attack than what you could do on your own, or you can position an ally in front of you to defend the ally behind. You can also pick up and throw one of your characters, using that ally’s turn so another one can travel farther or get to a place they wouldn’t be able to get to alone. With so many options in how you battle, every time you play the same level you can, and likely will, play it out in a completely different manner. Even if you memorized every enemy that was in each level for your second playthrough, it would only help you the slightest bit. This game does require a lot of planning, but it also requires you to adapt at almost every turn, regardless of how good your strategy may have seemed at the beginning.
Outside of battle, you’ll find plenty to do as well. In fact, the battle itself sometimes seems to be nothing more than the playing out of the planning you did prior to entering the battle. That isn’t anything negative to say about the fights, but simply a high praise for everything that can be done outside of them. For one, you can enter the “Cam-pain HQ” where you can place down an Evil Symbol, granting bonuses to the party members you want. For example, the Training Ground symbol will grant all members a 10% EXP bonus if one of those members defeats an enemy. You get to choose the placement of each symbol as well as which party members you want to receive the bonus. This gives you even more control over how your characters behave in battle or what they gain after each encounter is done. From the Cam-pain HQ, you can also call a Senate hearing with any of your characters. You can create or delete a new character, reincarnate a character from level 1, or explore more interesting topics like tripling the EXP of the first enemy you defeat. Each of these topics has an approval rating as well as a mana cost that you can see before calling the hearing. Once you call the hearing, you can bribe members of the senate in the hopes that the approval rating will jump higher and your motion will pass. There are even some ridiculous ones that will automatically pass such as having Fenrich act independently from you in the base instead of following right behind you the entire time. Other than that, you can buy and upgrade abilities called Evilities, buy armor and weapons, or go to the Item World, which allows you to go inside the world of an item and battle. The further you get, the stronger that item will become outside of the Item World. Even simply explaining what can be done in this game doesn’t do it complete justice because each component is filled with its own complexities and intricacies that you likely won’t grasp right away. Trial and error is something you’ll get used to, but it won’t seem so frustrating when doing so. Instead, it will simply seem like a necessary portion to fully unlock your character’s potential.
This game is full of humor, and you don’t have to look too hard to find it. Not only will the characters or dialogue have you smiling, but even the settings for text speed are unique. Don’t expect to see “slow” or “fast” for the choices here. No, instead you’re given the choice of Turtle, Scooter, Cheetah, or Hyperdrive. It isn’t much, but it’s still a nice surprise to see the same dedication to the entire aesthetic of the game. This is a game that knows exactly when to not take itself seriously and when it should. A deep combat and party system, mixed with the humor of Valvatorez and the Prinnies, wrapped in a ridiculous story you can’t wait to continue, all make Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited a fantastic game on so many levels.