Review: Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice
Fans of the hybrid-genre strategy-RPG have probably already played through a Disgaea game before. It’s a parody of the genre itself, making fun of every aspect the genre keeps sacred and exaggerates it. Disgaea’s known for it’s ridiculous stats, level caps, and gameplay length (try over 1,000 hours). And with each installment, everything becomes more and more ridiculous. For example in Disgaea 3, one of the trophies is to cause over ten billion damage to an enemy, while another trophy is rewarded for doing a 255 hit combo. If you’re new to the series, that’s a taste of what you’re in for. A time-consuming game with incredible “numbers” and a story that is full of high-quality humor.
The game takes place in the pits of the underworld at a school for demons known as Evil Academy. At Evil Academy, being a delinquent means going to class and doing homework. So naturally, being an Honor Student means skipping class and forgetting to do homework. The protagonist, Mao, is the school’s best Honor Student. His main goal is to defeat his dad, the Overlord and chairman of Evil Academy. Why would a son want to destroy his father? Power. And a small twist that hilariously ridiculous. Since Mao is obsessed with comic books and video games, he realizes that to defeat his father, he’ll need to become a “Hero”, since the hero always defeats the boss. From there, he’s joined by a host of unlikely partners including the school’s greatest delinquent, Raspberyl. During the adventure, Raspberyl’s “evil” influence on Mao creates much more trouble than he can handle.
Revealing too much more would ruin several surprises scattered throughout the lengthy storyline. Did I mention length? The game’s main story takes hours upon hours to complete. And the way it’s presented may be a little off-putting to some. There’s hardly any cutscene action. Most of the story is presented by showing a non-animated character avatar on the screen with spoken dialog between characters. It’s presentation may be off-putting to newcomers, but if you can bare through it all, you’ll end up with an excellent story that will have you laughing and thinking about death and get sad and stuff.
In-between the story, you’ll prepare for battle using various shops and your Classroom Assembly. Classroom Assembly is where you rearrange characters to setup partner combos, pass bills that allow access to better gear and more, and create new characters. It’s the same thing as the Dark Assembly in the previous games, just with more features. If you’re not watching cutscenes or managing your characters, then welcome to battle. Battling on a grid map is the core of the game with only a warp portal to allow your characters onto the map. You’ll set up your characters by moving them to locations according to how many move points you have and attacking if able. This is all turn-based, but it does manage to move quickly. Playing this game like a typical strategy-RPG will lead to a complete failure. Remember, this game is ridiculous and with that comes ridiculous strategies. One of the abilities you’ll use is stacking all of your characters on top of each other and performing a massive combo attack. Or you may end up juggling a character in the air for a few minutes with attacks with another character until it’s way past the time of extinction.
There’s also Geo Blocks (colored blocks) which are randomly placed throughout the map, along with various associated colors that power up the space it’s on depending on the color. By destroying a Geo Block on the same color space will result in damage to anything standing on it, as well as the removal or color change of said block. Confused? As an example, a Prinny standing on a red space may give the Prinny a power up of +100% health. Let’s say you’re on the other side of the map with a blue Geo Block in front of you that happens to be on a red space of it’s own. You can attack it and change the red spaces on the map to blue, which also causes Prinny a little bit of damage due to the color change. This also causes the newly created blue space to use a different power up/down depending on what the Geo Block’s specialty was. There’s also a combo system with these too. In the same scenario, if another red space on the map holds a green Geo Block and you just changed everything to blue, then that red space will change to blue, damage the green Geo Block, then begin changing all blue spaces to green and so forth. This combo system may drain a character completely of it’s health or close to it. It’s a complicated system that requires you to check out your map before just randomly hacking away at enemies.
After you beat the game, the game then begins. You’ll spend the rest of the time doing small side quests and grinding levels. There’s a grinding that’s going to take place. You’ll not only be leveling up your characters, but you’ll also jump through a series of grinding in a place called Item World. Let’s say you have a wicked axe or armor piece but it’s starting to lose it’s edge. In Item World, you begin a series of fights inside the item you want to level. Depending on how well you did, you can improve your items value and stat points enough to keep it with you for several more levels. It’s a cool idea, but it requires just more grinding. The maps are randomly generated so that will at least keep things interesting while you grind. On top of Item World, you’ll fight pirates, aliens, and more weirdness throughout the underworld. The level cap is 9,999 and levels aren’t handed to you like you’d think. Again, there’s going to be some grinding to achieve that high of a level.
While the sounds are just fine with great battle music and outstanding voice acting, the games biggest weakness comes from it’s graphics. The backgrounds are high-definition and the avatars are presented in high-definition, but the in-game sprites look like nothing more than a stretched out pixelated mess. The animations are smooth and the combo system is bright and colorful, just like you’d expect from Disgaea, but there’s nothing special that stands out in the graphics. This game would have easily ran on the PlayStation 2.
Outside of the graphics and the grinding gameplay, the game is excellent and should be played if not for the incredible anime story it presents. If you’re new to the series, this is a good place to start. It’s addicting and fun, but you just have to bare with it. If you’ve tried Disgaea before and hated it, Disgaea 3 isn’t going to change that. There’s nothing that’s drastically changed from the past.
Posted on December 19, 2012, in Reviews and tagged Absence of Justice, disgaea, Disgaea 3, 魔界戦記ディスガイア3 Makai Senki Disugaia Surī, Nippon Ichi Software, NIS, ps3 review. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.