The Latest

Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten Review

Although the subtitle of Disgaea 4 explicitly refers to the protagonist’s unwavering devotion to his word, it also symbolizes Nippon Ichi’s tacit commitment to series supporters. With an assembly of beguiling and eclectic characters, depth which can absorb gamers for months, and a lustrous high-definition makeover, A Promise Unforgotten delivers the cornucopia of content which aficionados have eagerly anticipated. While those who have criticized Disgaea’s methodical combat or grind-obliging mechanics won’t undergo a change in opinion, astute tweaks and additions make the title a compulsory journey for Netherworld nuts.

From the Napoleonic Laharl of Hour of Darkness to the inverted delinquency of Raspberyl in Absence of Justice, the Disgaea series has consistently showcased captivating characters; A Promise Unforgotten is no different. Players follow the trajectory of disgraced vampire Valvatorez- a once-powerful figure relegated to laboring as a teacher in a maximum security Prinny penitentiary. When the dejected instructor discovers that the Netherworld’s administration (known as the Corrupternment) begins to condemn Prinnies for the realm’s escalating woes, he takes action- planning a rebellious coup to protect an oath. Assisted by the dutiful servant Fenrich and a half-dead middle-schooler named Fuka (clad in a Prinny cap as the Corrupternment lacks the funds for a full suit), the dialog is dependably humorous. Referencing everything from Gunnery Sergeant Hartman’s tirade in Full Metal Jacket to flowery final boss soliloquies, the game’s targets are as varied as they are plentiful. Cleverly, A Promise Unforgotten’s crescendos into a joyful pageant of N1 cameos certain to poised to please franchise faithfuls.

Complementing the game’s storyline is Disgaea’s distinctive turn-based battle system, which tasks players with controlling a small army of grid-based gladiators. Using a variety of physical, weapon-based, and magical strikes, success hinges on the strategic placement and deft utilization of each combatant. One example- adjacent allies increase the probability of a team attack, where associates can hammer a foe with additional hits. Of course, clustering teammates closely leaves the group open for a zoned attack. Regretfully, A Promise Unforgotten’s AI is still patently predictable, with opponents consistently seeking out the weakest friendly units.

Absence of Justice’s “magichange” system makes a return with one key change.  Previously, humans and monsters could be combined into a single weapon. Now, players can combine two beasts into a ‘mega-monster’ replete with intensified stats, and even combine this merged monstrosity with a human to create a formidable ‘mega-weapon’. To keep these abilities from becoming overpowering, there’s a stringent turn limit on the transformation.  Additionally, once the augmented unit is removed from battle, there’s a noticeable gap in the player’s roster. Another adjustment to Disgaea 4  can be found in the game’s punishment system- which allows players to convert foes into friends, and even extort money or loot locations from weaker antagonists. Predictably, item worlds make a reappearance, allowing obsessive gamers to delve into any of the game’s materials in an effort to boost the article’s stats. These recesses also regulate Disgaea’s difficulty level. Gamers thwarted by an insurmountable foe can maximize the strength of the gear by a few expeditions into the item world. Habitually, the rewards are a fitting reimbursement for a bit of amiable grinding.

Off the battlefield, a variety of elements vie for the player’s waking hours. There’s the senate, where gamers can push bills to unlock new party-optimizing permutations. This time out, politicking has been supplemented by the introduction of the ‘Cam Pain HQ’, which recalls Absence of Justice’s classroom management. Here, completed maps unlock pieces of an overworld, allowing players to arrange their allies to raise the ferocity of their team attack or place symbols in an effort to buff their squad. Gamers are also given the opportunity to assign allies to specific tasks, such as appointing a foreign minister who is capable of visiting another player’s senate by way of the PlayStation network.

While not all of A Promise Unforgotten’s online features have gone live, the title seems bristling with potential. Even with a gimped map creation component, players can still go wild making their own maps filled with foes, items, and crafty Geo Block designs. Once constructed and outfitted with a crew, pirate ships have the ability sail right into other player’s games to thieve trinkets. Following contemporary NIS tradition, Disgaea 4 looks to offer enough aftermarket DLC to empty a fanatic’s wallet. With everything from parts used  construct a Space Battleship Yamato inspired-ship to an alternative ‘Tyrant’ Valvatorez quest destined for stateside release, the Netherworld is becoming an increasing expensive destination for completionists.

Players who nitpicked about Disgaea 3’s pixelated aesthetics will find little room for complaint with A Promise Unforgotten. Characters have been fastidiously drawn in high resolution and are accompanied with a profusion of animations. Dialog segments have been overhauled as well, allowing each of the title’s portraits to emote expressively. Disgaea 4’s English voice overs honor NISA’s pedigree, with deliveries that elevate the game’s offbeat humor. Purists who prefer a Japanese track will be happy to discover that the title offer dual-language support.

Despite the title’s plethora or virtues, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten isn’t a game for everyone. Obtaining an insanely high-level character capable of inflicting billions of point of damage is a protracted journey marked by the occasional spike in challenge level. For fans of the series, nearly every moment of the voyage will be satiated with the series’ signature strategizing, humor, and depth. With the strategy role-playing game struggling against extinction, Nippon Ichi reminds us of the genre’s power and potential.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Woah, nice early review. I’m just curious how many hours did you put into it?

  2. Good review. Well written and all that stuff.

    My question- why have Deagle, you is a known NIS fanboy review this. Of course he going to like it.

    • YOu could wait for the IGN review that 6.0’s it, saying it really doesn’t do anything new, and uses a tired anime style, if that’s what you REALLY want.

      • Yeah, I just read IGN’s Dead Island review, and it said the same thing 3-4 times. (game is rough but fun, cutscenes suck). Man, Deagle you need to write for them. At the rate you review game they could fire three guys.

        As far as D4- I really want the game but with so many good releases, I don’t know if I’ll get it at launch.

    • If I remember correctly, he’s given Ds and Cs to NIS games. No “F” yet, though.

  3. Desert, I’m glad you like it (was there any doubt) Great review.

    Now can I admit I have never played a Disgaea game before? How much would I miss if I started on this one?

    • There’s a healthy tutorial that would allow you to jump in and understand all of Disgaea 4’s mechanics. HOWEVER, you won’t appreciate the cameos unless you play 1,2, and 3 first.

  4. A- ? GTFO Every Disgaea game is the same goddamn game. It’s worst than John Madden football.

  5. great review, dood!

    Premium edition preordered and waiting for pickup!

  6. I picked up Disgaea 3 for $15, playing it for three hours and fell asleep in front of my TV. Thats never happened when playing games before.

  7. As expected an excellent review. One of the best ones out there right now.

  8. I’d never thought I’d say it, but dood it’s the Labor Day weekend. Turn off your games and go outside!!!

  9. whats with your false advertising. The girl with the phat bootie isn’t in the video that plays when you click on the ad!!!

    • Sorry, I can only promise quality reviews on the site. The ads I have little control over, other than flagging them for inappropriateness.

  10. Dood, I can’t wait for Tuesday. Nice review. you got me excited for it.

  11. Wait, Full Metal Jacket is referenced in Disgaea 4? Was a change of underwear needed?

  12. Wait, Full Metal Jacket is referenced in Disgaea 4? Was a change of underwear needed?

  13. I own 2 Disgaea games (1 and 3) and haven’t finished either of them. Is is possible for an average working person to complete this one?

  14. “the Netherworld is becoming an increasing expensive destination for completionists.”

    Tell me about it. All the D3 stuff I bought last week cost me $17.00 dollars for a game I bought for $12!!!

  15. Is there a mandatory install?

  16. I might have to grab this on Tuesday as well. It’s $49 right?

  17. Kick ass review. I can’t wait for my copy to get here. C’mon NISA!!

  18. Great pre-luanch review. Keep ’em coming!

  19. There go the next three weeks of my life! Good review.

  20. There go the next three weeks of my life! Good review.

  21. So which version should you get? Is the $120 version really worth the money?

  22. I have a love/hate history with Disgaea. I’m usually really into the first 5-8 hours or so, but then one boss kicks my ass. Since I don’t like grinding, that’s the end of my game right here.

  23. A- from Deagle, probably a D+ from SeanNOLA.

  24. D4 suddenly has my interest even though I usually don’t like grinding. I heard the main VO is the main guy from Catherine, true?

  25. The bad news is that there’s no longer a Doublejump guide, Brady Games is taking over duties.

  26. Kickass review. I can’t wait to grab this today!

  27. Are there really intense difficulty spikes? Those always drive me nuts.

  28. I got my copy on Monday, and have been playing it like it’s a rental (read nonstop)

    – I love the characters. Great offbeat humor.
    – They didn’t mess with the combat. NIS just added enough things to make it interesting still.
    – Graphics look gorgeous. I can only hope we get a D1-D3 remake disk sometime. Doubtful, but I’m hoping.

    “Love, give me strength!”

  29. I hope you have a DLC giveaway one of these days. That would be awesome, dood!

  30. Level 9999, here I come. Just got mine 20 minutes ago. Yes!

  31. Almost as good as Game Informers (I’m not kidding) 2 sentence review of the game. Did you see it? At least they 8.25ed it, although they said it was just like playing the PS2 version.