Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
Developed By: Nippon Ichi Software
Published By: NIS America
Category: Role-Playing, Strategy
Release Date: 6.29.21
Composer: Tenpei Sato
After the first five games and I’m-not-even-gonna-count-how-many remakes or spinoffs of the Disgaea series, I feel like I know what to expect from every entry in the franchise: a fun, quirky, fourth-wall-breaking narrative, attractive and detailed sprite-based graphics, and competent, deep, and engaging strategic gameplay that requires a ton of grinding to fully master. I’ve played at least one version of every previous game in the series, and with every new experience I’ve grown fonder of what I love about the games (story, graphics) and more annoyed by what I don’t (the endless grind). Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is an attempt to break the franchise’s mold a little bit by making two big changes to the formula. One change works out great, and one is an unfortunate step back, but the whole package is still sure to please any fan of the series.
The Infinite Zed
Disgaea 6, like most of its predecessors, features a very well-rounded story full of fourth-wall breaking humor, great characters, and unexpectedly tragic backstories. The protagonist is a young zombie named Zed. Zed is on a self-given quest to kill the Ultimate God of Destruction after said UGoD apparently killed Zed’s younger sister Bieko. Along with his genius sage/zombie dog Cerberus and an ever-growing cast of misfits, Zed uses his Super Reincarnation ability to jump from reality to reality in pursuit of his goal. The story is fairly straightforward, but the ride is so thoroughly enjoyable it’s hard to call that a weakness. Oh, and one tip – just because the credits have rolled, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few more story chapters to go.
Combat: Yup – It’s a Disgaea Game All Right
Disgaea 6 doesn’t do a whole lot to shake up the series’ combat formula. The turn-based RPG battles still play out on a grid-based map. Players can launch up to ten units from the base tile – and even return units to the base and exchange them for different units, depending on the game situation. The franchise’s unique lift and throw mechanics are still in place, allowing players to toss their characters into the fray more quickly or rearrange map objects to create new paths around the map. Geo Tiles are still a feature of many maps. For those new to the series, Geo Tiles are differently colored tiles that either add a bonus or inflict a penalty for any character that stands on them. Colors can be changed or erased by destroying Geo Symbols, and doing so triggers extra rewards after a battle.
Again, franchise veterans won’t see anything new in the game’s combat system. However, the game does a fine job explaining these elements for anyone new to Disgaea, and the throwing and Geo Tile mechanics continue to provide unique and challenging puzzle elements alongside the game’s satisfying tactical combat. It wasn’t broke, so they didn’t fix it.
Home Sweet Home
Zed’s home base, which follows him from reality to reality, features a ton of ways to boost character or item growth. You can strengthen your character by using the juice bar, assigning them to a squad, sending them on an item world expedition, petitioning the Dark Assembly for aid, claiming D-Merits for hitting certain goals, completing quests from the quest shop, or adjusting your reward levels in the cheat shop. You can pump up your items and equipment by exploring the item world or buying better items in the shop, and you can get rewarded for getting beaten up in the hospital. You can also mingle with your characters in some amusing skits, when available. But it’s the game’s newest addition which makes character-building such a breeze.
They Made A Game That Grinds For You
I’ve been growing increasingly wary of games that depend on lots of monotonous grinding for building up characters. Disgaea has been, unfortunately, a franchise that relies heavily on the grind to fill out a lot of its content, and Disgaea 6 doesn’t emphasize endless grinding any less than its predecessors. It does, however, introduce a very simple but amazingly effective new way to grind in the form of the Demonic Intelligence system. Demonic Intelligence is a surprisingly flexible system that allows players to program an auto-battle script for their units. When activated, characters will follow their script without any input from the player. Combined with the ability to automatically replay levels once completed, you can basically program the game to do the grinding for you.
Now I certainly understand that this may take some of the feeling of accomplishment away for some, but let’s first note that this system is entirely optional. But for players that maybe have less time for gaming than they used to or just want to focus on the story, it basically eliminates the tedium of the grind and lets players focus entirely on the most interesting parts of the game. Heck, I’ve had the game auto-grinding for me the entire time I’ve spent writing this article. That’s like two hours (and counting) of grinding – generating thousands of levels, millions of gold, and hundreds of collected items – that I was able to generate without touching my Switch. It’ a great system for Disgaea fans that don’t have endless hours to pump into the traditional grind anymore.
But Then There’s The Bad News
I did mention one unfortunate shortcoming for the game in the introduction, and now the time has come to talk about it. Disgaea 6 is the first game in the series to transition to 3D models over 2D sprites, and it is not a smooth one. Instead of gorgeous, hand-drawn sprite work, the 3D graphics are fairly plain and not especially sharp. I know you have to learn to walk before you can run, but considering the middling results I might have recommended sticking with the sprites. Luckily, the music is as plucky, weird, and endearing as it ever was. Combined with some top-notch voice acting, I can’t find any fault with the game’s audio design.
They Took Two Big Chances And One Paid Off
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny retains almost everything that made the Disgaea franchise so beloved by those that play it. It has a funny, compelling story with engaging, unique characters. The strategic gameplay bolstered by a few puzzle elements and the multiple character-building systems are as engrossing as ever. They may be better than ever, in fact, as players can now choose how deeply they want to engage with the game’s heavy grind. Unfortunately, the franchise’s first foray into 3D graphics leaves a lot to be desired. Still, it’s good to see an old dog put in the effort to learn new tricks. So reward the developers (and yourself) and give this one a try.
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
Digital – $59.99
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The Switch Effect was graciously supplied a code for review purposes.