If going to Hell means you can frolic with a mob of penguins that double as bombs – then consider me intrigued. Best known for its RPG grinding bliss, superb script, spectacular voice acting, and quirky characters, Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness is a port of the Playstation 2 cult-hit, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. Long-time fans will be happy to learn that nothing has been lost in translation. Newcomers, still waiting for their SRPG hymen to be broken, will be in for a treat.
For those in the dark about Disgaea, it’s a Strategy RPG dealing with the quarrel between the prince of the underworld and the armies of heaven. The witty writing with genuinely funny dialogue, paired with fantastic voice acting, is the perfect storm of fantastic story presentation. For you lazy gamers who hate to read, you’ll have the option to choose between an English dub track or Japanese.
The grind is Disgaea‘s bread and butter, and it’s as vicious as ever. Aside from the main story, there’s the option to actually enter any of your items. What ensues is a seemingly unlimited amount of levels to level up said item. Also, within each item resides a certain number of Specialists that, upon defeat, grants you statistic bonuses that can be transferred onto new items.
As if that wasn’t enough, character customization is just as extreme. Making a new character under a pre-existing character creates a pupil-master system that greatly affects the dynamics of the battleground. Each character can enter exams to give a significant boost to stats, or they can tackle the Dietician (the political house of Disgaea) to pass laws the easy way (asking) or the hard way (ass-kicking). New classes are unlocked as older classes reach a certain level. Along side the typical SPRG classes, you can create enemy units to fight for your cause.
Knowing that the game itself hasn’t been tampered with, the biggest concern is whether or not the PSP’s infamous load times plague this game. I’m happy to report that load times are not a problem. In fact, it was uncanny how little the game had to load. Between entering the item world, the portals, and the item shops, I didn’t see a single instance of a load screen.
With a bonus Etna mode (where you see the whole story through her perspective) and a one-on-one multiplayer mode, if everything from the preview build manages to make it to the final version, then Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness could possibly be the best SPRG of this fall, maybe even edging out Final Fantasy Tactics; The War of the Lions.
Available: October 30, 2007