Disgea 4: A Promise Unforgotten review

Disgaea 4 PS3

Never played a Disgaea game before and feel like hopping aboard? Be prepared. Prepared for confusion, irritation, possibly a couple of busted DualShocks and – if it really hooks you – nearly as much time spent looking down at grid battles as Garry Kasparov. The fourth game since the series’ 2003 debut, there are some new features here – online play, a revamped hub system and the ability to make giant prinnies – but also a lot that’s familiar.

And in trying to toe the line between not patronising its regulars and easing in the newcomers, developer NIS has veered slightly too far towards the former: assuming a huge amount of knowledge makes this confusing to neophytes like the behavioural protocols at a swingers’ party (or so I imagine).

For anyone yet to get involved, here’s the skinny (although in reality, Disgaea’s complexities make it about as skinny as John Goodman): turn-based battles play out on isometric grids. You have to use attacks, magic and team-ups to ensure that your crew of up to ten is left standing by the time the other team’s disappeared to the big RPG farm in the sky.

But there are a couple of twists: a character’s turn is only over after they perform their own action, so you can continue to move them even after they’ve helped out their cohorts – party members stood next to each other perform stronger team attacks. Monster-type members can also be ‘magichanged’ into weapons for human members, and also ‘fused’ to create supersized versions – that’s where the jumbo winged-penguins come in.