When Disgaea 4 was originally released for the PlayStation 3 back in 2011, its subtitle had a dual meaning. A Promise Unforgotten referenced not only the protagonist’s unwavering devotion to his word, but it also symbolizes Nippon Ichi’s tacit commitment to series supporters. Building upon the foundations established by the franchise’s preceding entries, Disgaea 4 delivered the type of eclectic cast, depth, and impish humor that Netherworld aficionados had grown to expect. The release of Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited demonstrates N1 delivering on its pledge to portable players, offering a colossal compendium which consists of the original game, an assemblage of downloadable content, along with few indulging extra like additional chapters. As with the developer/publisher’s previous ports to Sony hardware, the package is a requisite purchase for Prinny fans.
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 Revisited 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 Revisited crescendos into a joyful pageant of N1 cameos, that’s poised to delight 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. On the upside, Revisited’s gameplay in tailored to occupy two distinct groups. Tacticians can methodically position party members together for by taking advantage of stat-altering Geo Blocks. Although strategizing will take you far, the Item World extends the ability to persevere without meticulous party management. Here, players can persevere by augmenting their gear and level grinding. The downside is that A Promise Revisited’s AI is still patently predictable, with opponents consistently seeking out the weakest friendly units- making survival less about clever stratagems than min-maxing your way to domination.
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 N1 made 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.
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. With Disgaea 4, politicking had been supplemented by the introduction of the ‘Cam Pain HQ’, which recalled 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.
For players who have already prevailed over the PS3 version of Disgaea 4, A Promise Revisited offers a number of compelling reasons to pick up the PS Vita iteration. Included among the fifty pieces of DLC, are “The Flashback Episode”, in which gamers can appreciate Valvatorez and Fenrich’s rapport in a scenario set before the start of D4. There’s also ““The Fuka & Dresco Show” which is a four-part episode that centers on the ersatz Prinny’s quest for reincarnation. Beyond introducing a giant-wretch carrying new character named Nagi Clockwork, a new chapter also details the initial meeting between Valvatorez and Sister Artnia. Given the infusion of new content, it’s convincible that gamers would glean eighty hours of gameplay from the title.
As Disgaea 4 was designed for the PlayStation, players might expect the portable version to cut a few corners. Miraculously, that’s not the case. The game’s high-definition sprite work has been transported to the Vita without any compromise to fidelity or animation quality. In fact, a few new visual flourishes have been added, making the portrait animations used during conversational sequences feel a bit more dynamic. Incredibly, Nippon Ichi was able to squeeze both the Japanese and English dialog into the game, allowing players to choose their preferred voice over language.
As a content-packed port of an already remarkable role-playing title, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited follows Nippon Ichi’s tradition of releasing the definitive iteration onto portable systems. Much like the ‘Game of the Year” editions which present a plethora of supplemental content at a reasonable price, A Promise Revisited is a no-brainer for newcomers and a worthwhile purchase for PS3 owners who never anted up for the game’s ancillary material.
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Nippon Ichi
Publisher: NIS America
Release date: August 12th, 2014
Price: $39.99 Retail or Digital via PSN
Language(s): Japanese or English voice, English text