Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny Review
The original Disgaea is one of my all-time favorite games, so I’ve been waiting for the release of Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny pretty much since it was first announced. I was hoping the new title would bring Disgaea back to its hilarious origins as a parody of SRPGs, JRPGs, and any other fantasy or sci-fi tropes that still long enough, and I was not disappointed.
In fact, playing Disgaea 6 really reminded me of my first playthrough of the first Disgaea game, albeit with a much faster-paced plot, so if you enjoyed the original Disgaea, you’d probably enjoy this game. While Disgaea 6 is definitely designed for existing fans of the franchise, it’s also a good place for new fans to start. Get ready for an adventure full of meta-humor, some surprisingly heartfelt moments, and lots and lots of zombie jokes.
A Nostalgic Demonic Delight
A great and powerful God of Destruction has emerged from nowhere and is destroying countless Netherworlds. This is by far the strongest God of Destruction in Netherworld history. Nothing can stand before its sheer power. Even witnessing its might can drive demons mad. There is nothing it can’t destroy. However, this God of Destruction has already been defeated… by a zombie, one of the weakest creatures in the Netherworld. As in, on the same level as a Prinny. How did this happen, exactly? Through the magic of time loops, level grinding, and an overpowered skill that makes protagonist Zed stronger each time he dies.
Disgaea 5 was plagued by a certain tone problem, by which I mean the game seemed to have forgotten that its main cast were (almost) all demons. Disgaea 6 does not appear to have this problem. Not only is new protagonist Zed a return to the series trademark playful amorality, but he’s also hilariously hot-blooded for a zombie. It’s clear that spending so much time stuck in a time loop has taken a toll on Zed mentally and emotionally. Not only has he forgotten the events of several previous loops—and potentially some major gameplay mechanics—but his emotional outbursts and volatile temper clearly stem from unresolved trauma. He has no patience for delays, sidequests, or other people in general. In short, he’s falling apart at the seams.
Zed’s hot-headed attitude and single-minded focus on his goals reminded me a lot of Laharl. However, his position on the Netherworld’s bottom rung makes him much more immediately sympathetic than Laharl despite being much more abrasive. The fact that he can genuinely empathize with the plight of the Prinnies, the most unfortunate species in the Disgaea multiverse, certainly helps, as does his tendency to sacrifice himself for others. His fruitless struggle to avoid gathering any comrades in his fight is pretty hilarious. In fact, every single character in this game is hilariously flawed in the most bombastic, over-the-top manner imaginable. The soundtrack has the lively, bombastic, and sometimes mournful tone I’ve come to expect from Disgaea. In addition, the game has an excellent English voice cast, with Cerberus giving an outstanding performance. It’s easy to immerse yourself in the game’s fast-paced comedy and unexpected punches to the heart.
Clearing This Game Could Take Months
Disgaea 6 uses standard SRPG combat mechanics, which means combat takes place on a giant grid. You must carefully consider the characters and skills you have available to make sure your tactics are effective. Giant enemies make a return, this time as a type of default unit. Team Attacks and Combos are still instrumental. Lift and Throw mechanics have returned, allowing a careful player further control of the battlefield. Geo Effects have also returned, adding an extra level of strategy to combat. The more you use skills, the more proficient your characters become with those skills. String together combos and Geo Effects to get bonus prizes at the end of a level. Although Super Reincarnation is built up in the story, it’s pretty similar to previous games’ reincarnation mechanics. Like in previous games, you can attack and kill your allies, but it’s a dick move. It’s easy to get caught up on the game’s mechanics, even if you aren’t familiar with SRPGs, but I was disappointed to learn that the game’s tutorials are basically just little skits for you to watch. Also, some unit classes like Clerics and Female Warriors have been removed from the game, which is too bad if you’re a fan of those designs.
Speaking of character designs, Disgaea 6 has some very slick art direction. Each design conveys a lot about that character. Despite or even because of his tough-guy attitude, Zed is especially adorable, especially when he’s smiling or furious—like Laharl’s hair antennae, Zed has a ribbon wrapped around his neck that surges up when he’s sufficiently mad. Of course, this mainly applies to the 2D art seen in the game’s visual novel-style cutscenes. The in-game graphics are made using 3D models. While some fans were worried about Disgaea making the leap to 3D, I think it turned out quite well. However, the chibi art style, lack of visible battle damage, and the 3D models’ unmoving facial expressions do make it a bit hard to take the game’s more emotional moments seriously. Being a Disgaea game, I got the impression the game itself wasn’t taking those moments seriously, but I still think it would have nice if they were dramatic about it. Also, you may want to use the arrow keys rather than the joysticks to navigate around the stage, as that’s much easier to control.
As per usual, there’s a treasure trove of DLC and post-game content available, including a sky-high level cap of 99,999,999, which means you could conceivably play Disgaea 6 for months. If you have the time and energy to take that challenge on, Disgaea 6 will reward you with an incredible number of customization options you can sink your teeth into. Unfortunately, as an SRPG, Disgaea 6 does demand a significant level of brainpower be dedicated to it, so I wouldn’t recommend playing it in the middle of a record-setting heatwave. The names of computer-generated characters range from the typical (Fred) to the bizarre (Petty Theft, Corded Phone, Full Throttle). This also applies to generic units you create or which are created for you, which is how I ended up with a delicate Heretic—a waifish healer—by the name of Danger Dan.
If you already love Disgaea, you’ll probably love Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny. You’ll definitely get the most out of this game if you’re already familiar with other SRPGs, but this is a fine place to enter the series–or the genre, for that matter. In the end, all that Disgaea 6 truly demands of a player is the willingness to learn its mechanics, an appreciation for its zany sense of humor, and a fondness for cute anime demons causing problems on purpose. As long as you can give it that, you’ll have a good time with this game.
***Switch code provided by the publisher***
- Absolutely hilarious
- Fun characters
- Great art and sound design
- Easy to learn, hard to master
- A treasure trove of content
- Tutorials are just skits
- Absent character classes
- Questionable joystick controls
- Inexpressive 3D models