Disgaea D2 is not the kind game you feel compelled to play through in order to finish the story. Neither is it the kind of game you need to beat in its entirety. In this case, I think it’s a good thing. The single thing that drives you to keep playing Disgaea D2 is its gameplay, which is, to say it simply, quite fun.
The Disgaea series is that of a light-hearted tactical RPG, and Disgaea D2 is no exception. Unlike its predecessors, Disgaea D2 takes place in the same universe as the original Disgaea, after Laharl takes the throne. In addition to several returning characters, Disgaea D2 also introduces quite a few new characters.
Disgaea D2′s story is told by dialogue cutscenes that take place at the beginning of each level. Multiple levels make up a chapter, and encompass a relatively complete arc. At the beginning of each individual chapter there is a longer cutscene kicking off the arc. Disgaea D2′s main plot circles around dissent with Laharl becoming Overlord and problems with Celestia, the domain of the angels.
The thing about Disgaea D2 is that the game has absolutely no qualms about portraying Laharl as the unlikeable, power-hungry child he is. Compared to him, most of the “bad guys” of the game are nothing. For some reason his sheer annoyingness came to grow on me though.
Occasionally when main characters come into contact with each other mid-battle, they will exchange some short dialogue relevant to the plot. I rather appreciated this mechanic, as it often added some humor in the middle of a frustrating level.
Disgaea D2′s gameplay is turn-based, with you moving and taking actions with your ten units, then the enemy moving and taking actions, and so on. Each character has the ability to either attack in some way, use an item, or lift and throw another character, Disgaea’s unique mechanic. By lifting and throwing another character, you sacrifice one character’s action in order to move another character across the map. The thrown character still retains the ability to move and act, and thanks to the fact that you can lift characters who are lifting other characters, you can move one character across the entire map at the expense of a few other’s turns. Instead of monsters lifting, you can mount characters on them, which gives you access to different special moves, more damage, and means that any attacks on the mounted character damage the monster instead.
This means that in combat, things can happen really fast. In one turn over half of your units can die and you’re stuck just watching it happen. On one occasion in order to beat a boss, I ended up sacrificing two of my stronger characters just to throw Laharl to safety and run around the map until my spawn was safe from immediate kills.
Teamwork plays a big part in Disgaea D2. Characters within attack range can attack at no cost occasionally after one of your other characters attacks. In addition, up to four adjacent characters may execute a combination attack that deals quite a bit of damage. These two features together can make one attack into a heavy damage-dealing combo, and character’s probability of assisting can be leveled.
Many of Disgaea’s levels contain geo-panels, complicated little colored tiles that affect the stats of enemies and allies who stand on them. These geo-panels can be destroyed, which removes their effect and damages all units on them, or used to your own advantage. Eliminating all of the geo-panels in a level inflicts damage on all enemies and does wonders for your bonus gauge.
Outside of the levels of the campaign, you spend your time in your base, which includes an item and weapon shop, assembly, dojo, cheat shop, and access to the item sea. The dojo allows you to give a character a stat to gain a bonus in when leveling and he cheat shop allows you to alter your gains of battling, for example, increasing experience at the cost of HL. The item
sea allows you to enter any of the items in your inventory and play through its levels in order to increase its stats.
Basically everything in Disgaea D2 can be leveled, and you can, in many respects, choose how. This allows for tons of customization of the already large roster of party characters. Thanks to this, Disgaea D2′s New Game+, level 9999 cap, and reincarnation, the game has an almost limitless amount of replay value.
10 years later and it looks like Disgaea’s still got it, even managing to continue the original story without missing a stride.
- Tons of fun gameplay
- Quite a lot of replay value
- In-depth character customization
- Entertaining dialogue
- Entirely HD sprites (if that’s not your thing)
- Not a story-driven game
- After unlocking the gunner, I found the thief to be a little bit obsolete, except, after beating some levels of the campaign, when you play them again they will have an enemy spawn geo-panel. You can use a combination of throwing and the thief’s ability to convert all kills into treasure chests to set up easy ways to farm kills.
A review copy of Disgaea D2 was provided by NIS America.