There’s sentimental value in established genre’s and franchises within that have greatly guarded their groundwork in overall design. Disgaea being one that was proud to pertain a consistent output of old school meets new, amassed a cult following that continued through multiple generations. The impact of the global pandemic has put pressure on smaller development teams to adopt key facets from other leading series, which has placed the tactical JRPG in a questionable spot. Development limitations grappled Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny, with the predicament of the series’ trademark sprite work in abeyance, in favour of fully rendered 3D models both dynamic and static. We’ve seen this model implemented across the board, with prominent top-down role-playing titles from notorious developers and publishers, but it seemed out of Disgaea’s element.
I’m glad that we’re seeing a continuation of the Disgaea franchise after Nippon Ichi diverted their attention to the mobile market, which cost them dearly, placing the developers in dire straits – almost at the precipice of a foreclosure, filing papers for bankruptcy. It took studio a few years to dig themselves out of this massive error, but have made a comeback with its sixth chapter to their most prominent series. Yes, there have been some changes, and yes mostly due to financials and the aforementioned global crisis, but Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny truly see’s a resurgence of hope in this long-standing JRPG. Sure it may befuddle loyalists that aesthetic changes were made to streamline the title to shelves, but this is no “rushed-to-market” style campaign. Stripping away some unnecessary buffers and clutter for a seamless experience, Disgaea has done itself a world of favours.
From A to Zed…
Those that know, Disgaea has never taken itself seriously – it’s what made it different from any title cut from the same cloth. The zany, the silly, and the nauseously trope filled antics that had carried the series throughout generations was comically enveloped to surmise the role-playing genre from conjecture that the category was past its prime, and was only for the devout that could not escape the “Final Fantasy” or “Shin Megami Tensei”. Like many, it develops a respective arc that follows an original team of heroes on their own journey while keeping the endearment of its predecessors alive within context. In Defiance of Destiny, we portray an undead alchemist by the name of Zed, a once kind hearted humanoid that had been threatened by the God of Destruction – presumed to be an offspring to previous antagonists of the same name.
Accompanied by his sister Bieko, the pair set off on their quest through the Netherworlds to confront the dastardly deity. Leading a difficult life, the siblings were outcasts of their home village for simply being zombies. This caused an attitude shift in our protagonist and his overly confident, rough and gruff exterior to aid and protect his sister. His boisterous personality leads them both into some wild predicaments, but demonstrates great resilience in battle with the ability to ‘Super Re-incarnate’ after each death. Attributing to his undead character, each time Zed falls he is revived with a surplus of strength; which you cannot circumvent to easily passthrough difficult moments, but is a helping hand for those that do find some sequences to be a tad strenuous. The tactical side of the title does become somewhat monotonous, following a conventional grid-based chessboard format.
Disgaea's foundations are compartmentalised into this almost parody-like escapade that brings forth a mandate of abstract, while trying to envision grandeur in what may be its finale.
An emphatic statement is made while controlling your party, like an well-oiled machine. Initiating combo’s are such a satisfactory feat, while contemplating your next move. With multiple layouts taking form, carefully adjusting your parties placement across a litany of battlefields will acclimate those that aren’t too familiar with the traditional board-game archetype. Unlike other JRPG’s your able to reshape Disgaea’s entire offense system by visiting the Overlord’s chambers and negotiating the rules. Surfing through an allotment of menus, it boasts a great deal in content but never comes off overwhelming. I never thought I would have to equip a pair of glasses to protect myself from glare, or a cotton bandana from potato-chip grease. These are only few examples of how hilarious and well crafted Disgaea’s creative writing truly is.
A Dead Man's Last Dance...
✔️Straying from the conventional, Disgaea’s trademark comedy takes a stronghold over a lukewarm narrative set within its lofty campaign.
✔️An almost 75 hour exhibition, packed to the brim with content.
✔️A cast of charming characters that make this lengthy adventure easier to get through.
❌Some performance issues in packed areas, lag seems to persist with too many characters on screen.
❌Bugs that can be patched.
In my 70 hour playthrough, I was astonished with the insurmountable delivery of content that was at my ready. From completing mainline to sidequest, talking shop for discounted items like health potions, and grinding through each battle to potentially cap your level max. In prior entries, we saw the insane level of 9,999XP. This is now revamped with the ridiculous 9,999,999XP willingly enabling a quintillion-triple blow; no I’m not embellishing, this actually happens and it’s hilarious. Of course, this calls for repetitive battles which may ask players for more than they had bargained. If you’re looking to simply engage in the campaign from start to finish, you’re still looking at a lofty 50 hour time-sink. Those acclimated with Disgaea will know the meta of the series intent as it delves deeper into its plotline which is notoriously second nature to the impeccably timed dialogue.
Multiple characters of race and class join your party to escalate the insanity that ensues from the titles onset. Cerberus, a zombie canine formerly a renowned sage before his reincarnation – quite possibly my favourite character in the entire game. His wit pairs sensationally with his charming vocals, naturally making him a leading companion within the campaign. A somewhat tedious feature that’s introduced is the Demonic intelligence system, which coerces your entire party’s formation and how you engage or initiate a counter attack in one foul swoop. Upon introduction of this feature, it does take some time to get used to, but develops into an essential feature near the end-game. The feature cuts away the fat of having to search through the dozens of menu’s the title entails, rather enabling a welcome offense that flows perfectly from beginning to end.
I equate the feature to Persona 5’s rush system, or Final Fantasy’s less-than appealing gambit mechanic. The difference here is the title allows casual players to get through the game without pressures of knowing exactly how to pinpoint certain weaknesses or strengths. Aesthetically speaking, Disgaea 6 contrasts from the early entries of doom and gloom for pure fantasy anime. A vibrant palette of colours enrich the world surrounding our heroes, alongside their animated cells that pop-up during imperative moments of sequential dialogue. Is it the most fleshed out Disgaea? No, but it certainly nought need to be. Localisation is at the top of its game, fully supporting an English cast that portrays each favourite throughout the escapade.
Brandon James Winckler (Kuroko’s Basketball, Sword Art Online: Alicization) portrays our lead Zed, with Michelle Marie (Adachi and Shimamura, Gleipnir) as his younger sibling, Bieko. Notable actors within the gaming and anime space such as Jason Marnocha (The Way of the Househusband, Mob Psycho 100), Kelly Baskin (Genshin Impact, D4DJ First mix), Jeannie Tirado (Sherlock Holmes and the Great Escape, Final Fantasy VII Remake), Cristina “Vee” Valenzuela (Akiba’s Trip, Konosuba), Matt Shipman (Dr. Stone, Attack on Titan), and the notorious “ProZD” SungWon Cho (River City Girls, A hat in Time).
If this is the series’ swan song, then Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny sends the Nippon great out with a bang. An essential to the JRPG collector and highly recommended for anyone up for a laugh and some mindless fun. Straying from anything traditional, and twisting the conventional while deceiving the acclimated all for an outrageously original experience, the sixth entry into its legacy will standout above the rest as one of the greatest – even post-remake. Disgaea’s foundations are compartmentalised into this almost parody-like escapade that brings forth a mandate of abstract, while trying to envision grandeur in what may be its finale. Nintendo Switch owners will absolutely adore the litany of laughable moments and absolute insanity. A great addition to anyone’s gaming collection.
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is a tactical role-playing video game developed and published by Nippon Ichi Software, and part of the Disgaea series. It was released on January 28, 2021 in Japan for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
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