Review Copy provided by NIS America.
First Impressions may contain spoilers.
I've been a fan of the tactical/strategy RPG genre since the Nintendo 64.
Growing up with games like Ogre Battle 64, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Advance Wars, and Knights in the Nightmare, my love for tactical unit based warfare has been backed by some of the greatest SRPG series of all time.
Surprisingly though, throughout my life as a gamer, the renowned Disgaea series was always shrouded in mystery.
From the outside looking in it's easy to get overwhelmed by the staggering number of features and increasingly deep rabbit holes to tumble down, but within all of that is a series full of wit, humor, a bit of fan service, a whole lot of charm, and rewarding customizable playstyle like no other!
So let's dive in dood!
This entry in the Disgaea series has us following the brutally demonic warrior Fuji, a man with a mysterious allergy to empathy and a "all that matters is winning" attitude when it comes to fighting...
Due to his a desperate need for HL* thanks to some outstanding debts, he joins teams with Pirilika, a rich CEO who is hopelessly obsessed with all things Hinomoto and rather clumsy with her choice of words and inability to turn a phrase.
Together, along with other members of their ragtag crew, including an essentially endless cast of customizable characters that you can modify and tinker with to your hearts content, your journey takes you on a path to liberate the netherworld lands of Hinomoto from the powerful shogunate, gather The Founding Weapons, and restore the honorable code of bushido!
*HL, pronounce "hell" is the form of currency in Disgaea 7.
Your time will mostly be split between battling it out on classic grid based tactical RPG maps to continue the episodic story and making full use of the facilities on your Nethership to enhance your parties skills and stats, recruit new party members, shop for gear and items, and grind levels and weapons.
From the first battle, Disgaea 7 is careful to explain the basis of what every player needs to know to be successful in combat. While there are a few nitpicks here and there when it comes to quality of life features, looking at you movement action, there is never a point in which you feel unable to experiment with aspects of the battle.
Failure to complete a stage successfully comes less as a pressure to grind and more as an opportunity to approach the challenge from a different point of view. Though there are some moments in the campaign that do have you wondering just how anyone could be expected to conquer the task at hand, there is always something else on the Nethership that you can occupy your time with while you think on your plan of attack.
The Nethership is a perfect example of how expertly paced Disgaea 7 can be when it comes to drip feeding you it's intricate gameplay designs.
The moment you step foot onto your ship you'll find all but one shop* locked to you. This gives you time to fully explore what each shop has to offer, and the value that each shop will bring to your gameplay experience.
As you progress through the campaign more shops will open up to at a steady pace, never more than one at a time.
From the simple and easily understandable Netherworld Hospital where you'll revive and heal your allies, to the complex and deep Item Worlder which will have you quite literally delving into your weapons and armor to not only enhance their capabilities, but also the capabilities of your squads.
Each shop has a place and purpose, and no shop goes unused or undefined.
*The Special Content "DLC" shop (unavailable at the time of writing) and Data Shop are the exception to this.
When it comes to character customization, Disgaea takes every option a step above the rest. Each character, no matter if it's a main character or a player generated one, can be set up in a completely unique way depending on your preferred playstyle.
From which of the 10 weapon types you might choose to master, the 45 character classes to pick from, or what sort of "evilities" you'll equip to enhance your skills, every choice you make matters. Even down to weather or not you might choose to reincarnate a character or item which resets it's level back to 1 while increasing base stats and retaining key skills, spells, or upgrades you earned along the way. There truly is no end in sight to how deep the character customization can go.
I mean for prinny's sake...a characters level caps out at 9999, and that's BEFORE reincarnation.
Oh yeah...did I mention you can essentially have kaiju battles too?
One of the many new features introduced with Disgaea 7 is the process of Jumbification.
This kaiju like sequence sees your character growing to massive size, so big in fact that they no longer fit on the stage and instead stand out in the ether of the battle map.
During this process your characters physical attacks become large area of effect hits that you can use to pummel several enemies at once. Keep in mind though, the enemy is capable of this ability as well! If that happens, you'll want to jumbify one of your own units to take them on in kaiju combat, attacking the enemy unit directly with your own in an all out battle of the biggest!
Another new feature to the series is Netherworld Sightseeing, which allows you to revisit and explore areas you've already completed in the main story.
Doing so will allow you to actually see the outcomes of your actions during your progression of the campaign. You might choose to revisit a noodle shop that only sells pasta (apparently not the same thing?) or take on special quests and recruit unique members to your squad.
This casually paced side questing offers even more ways to make use of everything Hinomoto has to offer.
The world of Disgaea 7 features an incredible cast of characters, not including the ones mentioned previously.
You might find yourself siding with a polite yet pervy shogun or falling for a gunpowder addicted theif. Every character interaction is brought to life by a fully voice acted story and backed by a soundtrack that goes from beautifully melodic pieces to heart pounding battle themes. Though there are some minor issues with the audio mixing, often a characters voice will be too quiet compared to the backing OST or far to loud, each performance perfectly captures the attitudes of the characters.
While I still have many more hours to put into this fantastic game, I cherish the time I've spent with it thus far and look forward to the future adventures and challenges.
Please look forward to my full in-depth review, coming at a later date!
If you're interested in seeing Disgaea 7 gameplay for yourself, consider following me on Twitch!
Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless releases on October 3rd, 2023 for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5 and Steam!
Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.
All clips, videos, images, and logos belong to their respective owners.