Although Disgaea D2 doesn’t come out until October 8th, Nippon Ichi was kind enough to send us a review copy far in advance. This is great because it’s easy to put well over a hundred hours into a Disgaea game without even reaching the half way point due to all the ways you can get sidetracked. Disgaea D2 does have some big shoes to fill, especially since the last game in the series, Disgaea 4 seems to be considered the best in the series so far by many fans of the franchises – including myself. Nippon Ichi knew it had a hard task ahead to top the previous releases, so for the latest game, they finally created a direct sequel to the original Disgaea, putting Laharl, Etna, and Flonne back in center stage.
Sure, there have been other games where the three have had supporting roles. Flonne was in Disgaea 4, Etna was in Trinity Universe and Disgaea 2. All three have been unlockable post game characters in nearly every Nippon Ichi strategy game since their creation. Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness, however, is the first to directly star them since 2003, so long time fans should be ecstatic to see these long time favorite characters getting the attention they so richly deserve. I should point out, though, that all characters are starting back at Level 1, which may confuse and perplex some gamers who remember THEIR Laharl being at Level 9999 with all sorts of special abilities. Disgaea D2 makes no attempt to explain why the characters are powered down, and really, it doesn’t need to. Just look at it as Level 1 being a new starting point rather than a reset switch.
There isn’t too much to the story in Disgaea D2 in the first chapter. You have Laharl being a bit of a dick again, which is a slight retconning of events from the end of Disgaea. Flonne tried to plant a Celestia garden but it gets destroyed by Etna and Laharl blowing up stars. However, one flower remains, which may turn out to be an important plot point later. It seems that the demons of the Underworld haven’t accepted Laharl as their Overlord yet, which is odd considered he took it to Celestia, and since taking over the Underworld, a quasi-peaceful relationship between the two planes has occurred with free travel allowed between the two. I would think peace with Heaven would brook Laharl SOME kind of respect, but I guess not.
Anyway, the first chapter consists of eight stages and with each stage you both learn the basics of gameplay as well as put down rebels. Things culminate with a battle against this game’s mid-boss, who resembles a knight chess piece and Laharl (hopefully) sends him running. The story isn’t just about putting down a demon rebellion, however, as the start of Chapter 2 sees an angel named Cicily coming down to the Underworld to try and become the Overlord…using Celestian methods liking asking nicely and offering to trade cookies for the title. It doesn’t go over well with Laharl. Can Laharl and his vassals fend off these new threats to their reign and get their Overlord the respect he feels he deserves? You’ll have to play the game to find out.
So let’s talk about changes because just in the first chapter, there are a lot. Instead of monsters magi-changing into weapons, humanoid characters can now ride them. When one character has mounted a monster (heh heh…mounted) you gain access to mounted skills and powers, all of which are quite strong, so it’s worth doing. I actually really prefer this change and can’t wait to see what riding everything looks like. In Chapter One, you’ll only get the chance to see characters riding things like Prinnies, ghosts and pumpkins, but I really like the visuals. Mounted combat is sure to make things interesting.
It’s also worth noting that items you get from the Rosenqueen store are quite different. There are no more random stats for these items. If you buy four bastard swords, all will have the same stats and attached Item World residents (if any). This is a huge change to be sure, but you can still get items with varying stats from winning battles and in the Item World. Armor and weapons are all in the same store now too and from the beginning you have access to shoes, glasses and belts. No more asking the Dark Assembly for these sorts of things save more or less expensive bits.
Speaking of the DA, it really has been cut back. It’s really for character creation and a few limited options. So far that’s the only thing I’ve used it for. You’ll also find character creation is slightly different as homebrew characters now have a choice of three Evilities which can really change how they play, along with the choice to power up one of their weapon skills upon creation. For example, I chose to raise my Healer from a B to an A in Bows so she could do a bit more combat damage. All these changes mean character creation is the most flexible it’s ever been and you can have, say, three Valkyries, each of which plays quite differently from the others.
I should also mention two other character details. You’ll discover the Dojo partway through Chapter 1. Here you’ll assign characters to various “exercises.” The end result is your character will gain an extra 5% stat boost per leveling up by attaching to the exercise. So if you hook a Prinny up to the treadmill, it will gain 5% SPD each time it levels up. As the exercises earn enough experience, they’ll increase the stat bonus and/or allow multiple people to do the exercise at once.
Finally, we have the Master/Apprentice function, which allows characters to benefit from each other. A Master gains stat increases from the Apprentice while the Apprentice can learn any skills, spells or abilities the master has. The latter is a permanent gain, so I’ll touch on this more in depth. Say you put Etna as an apprentice to Flonne. Flonne gets a stat boost in every category, while Etna gets a Level 0 in everything Flonne has. So at Level 1, Etna would have a Level 0 Heal. A Level 0 ability/spell/etc has one a one square range and costs 50% more Skill Points, but if you use it four or five times, the skill goes up to Level 1 and the character now permanently knows it. Replay a lot of low level battles and you’ll be able to give all of your characters tons of new options. My Laharl for example had Fire, Heal, Espoir, Speed Boost and more before the end of the first chapter, giving more than just his usual swordplay.
There’s a lot more to Disgaea D2 to discover including the Cheat Room, the new version of the Item World, new Pirate variants and of course, the overarching plot that ties the game together. You’ll also encounter a ton of familiar characters from poor Asagi to the entire cast and crew of Disgaea 4. Remember the game comes out October 8th and the retail version is ONLY $49.99, which is a great deal turned even better when you realize pre-orders also get a soundtrack and an art print. You can also go to Nippon Ichi’s official website and get yourself a Limited Edition version of the game complete with artbook, two figures and some art cards. Oh yeah, you can also get the strategy guide with comes with a Raspberyl DLC character to use. You have a lot of options for picking up Disgaea D2, and I strongly suggest you partake in one of them. So far I can’t say it is going to surpass Disgaea 4 as my favorite in the series, but I do think I like it better than D2 and D3. Check back in a few weeks for my full review of the game here at Diehard GameFAN!