Review: Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness

title2The Disgaea series includes some of the most complicated, lengthy, and downright crazy games the turn based strategy genre has ever seen. The formula itself has changed very little with every iteration, and it’s therefore no surprise that this latest entry in the series sticks firmly to its well tested mechanics. The result is a fun, yet familiar game.

01A Brighter Darkness is the first Disgaea to directly continue the story of a previous title in the series, and follows on from the first game, Hour of Darkness. Unfortunately for me, this is one of the Disgaea games I’m less familiar with, but I’m sure that the returning characters will be well received by fans of the 2003 original. However, zero prior knowledge is required to enjoy the story, which is a light hearted yet fun affair that is compelling thanks to some whacky characters and sharp dialogue.

When it comes to gameplay, Disgaea D2 remains virtually unchanged from the older titles in the series. With every new release there always seems to be some concern that only a few alterations have been made to how the game plays, but of course the desire to mix up the formula of a turn based strategy can be problematic when nothing really needs fixing. For fans this is a double edged sword; it’s still the same great experience that defined the series, but it’s also basically more of the same.

Fortunately, Disgaea does achieve a sense of variety thanks to each game having its own unique look and feel. When it comes to choosing a favourite, it’s really down to personal preference of story, characters, setting and atmosphere.

03But Disgaea D2 isn’t my favourite game in the series, and as the gameplay really isn’t better than the last two games in the series, I’d be inclined to recommend both of them instead. Both Disgaea 3 and 4 have a style and charm that isn’t as well executed in this game. The story is still funny, it’s still very Disgaea, but it’s light on the narrative and doesn’t have the same quirky setting and tone of the other games. Graphically it’s on par with Disgaea 4, but whilst it’s technically as impressive, the oversaturated colours found in the game’s world can look nasty, and the Geo Panels in particular are harsh on the eyes.

02If you’re excited about carrying on the story of the original Disgaea then I’d be happy to recommend A Brighter Darkness. It’s still the same amazing strategy game you can invest 100+ hours into. However, if you’re new to the series, or haven’t played the more recent entries, I’d recommend them first. Disgaea 4 is a superior game, and Disgaea 3 on the PlayStation Vita is better still. It’s actually a series I’ve had more fun with on the handheld, and it’s easier to get into when you can enjoy it on the go. Playing a Disgaea game is really quite a big commitment, so it’s definitely worth getting the right one. This newest entry to the series certainly isn’t bad, but you can do better than A Brighter Darkness.

7/10

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