Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny – The sixth mainline entry in the long running Strategy RPG series follows new protagonist Zed, a seemingly normal zombie, on his quest to defeat the God of Destruction. A monumental task for any demon let along a normal Zombie; yet Zed has a trick up his sleeve. Thanks to the interference of a zombie dog, Cerberus, he has been granted the power of the magic spell – Super Reincarnation which allows its user to revive even stronger than they were before once they die. The spell also has the bonus effect of reincarnating the user into a world that will lead them to the most effective way to become stronger. Armed with this power Zed battles against the God of Destruction countless times till he is able to gain the power and allies necessary to complete his mission.
With Super reincarnation being a main plot element, the game wastes no time in establishing this game mechanic as the key feature that will lead to victory. Like the previous games in the series; Disgaea 6 allows the player to gain massive amounts of levels and reset their level to 1 in order to begin a process of strengthening their character through constant level grinding and resetting of levels. Retaining status upgrades, skills and competency that allows better character growth and more power. However where disgaea 6 differs compared to previous games is some rather clever design decisions and game mechanics that not only speed up the process but automates it. Like previous games in the series the player will have access to the Cheat shop. The cheat shop allows the ratio of experience, mana, money and proficiencies to be altered. At first everything starts at 100% gain and can be dropped to allowing only about 90% gain. Meaning that it would be possible to gain 150% bonus in an attribute, say experience at the cost of everything else. As the game progresses the game will allow the player to drop each down further by 10% after each story chapter completion which in turn allows the player to set the gain to a maximum of 500% for one aspect. Along with this the difficulty/levels of the enemies can be increased meaning the player can revisit maps in the early game. Boosting the level of the enemies and setting the gain high to increase levels. At various points in the game the player will be given a map that it seems the designers included for the sole purpose of grinding levels, mana and money due to how quickly enemies can be dispatched.
Tied into this each character can also gain bonuses to their status growth via D-Merits. These are awarded on hitting certain milestones like increasing a characters level to 99, 250, 9999 etc or raising a status above 1million or raising a class proficiency to the next level. The rewards given can increase the levelling capabilities, award extracts to be used at the juice bar(One of the games new features) or add Karma.
Karma is the games new points system each character possesses. Like Mana each character earns this and uses it to increase their stats. However Karma can only be gained through bonuses in the D-Merits and reincarnation. When reincarnating by spending more mana on the reincarnation this can increase the amount awarded. The karma is used to learn skills through reincarnation like increased damage, increasing the amount of times a character can counter or even increasing base stats. Unlike Mana that is reset to zero on a reincarnation. Karma is saved for later.
As mentioned previously the Juice bar is a new mechanic that uses extracts, mana and experience. When clearing a level a pool of mana, experience and extracts are given to the juice bar. The player can then spend money in order to brew their characters a potion to raise their stats, proficiencies in class, weapons or even award them bonus mana and experience. Making clever use of the juice bar can lead the way into streamlining the process of character growth with only money being the drawback to its.
Along with these mechanics the game introduces probably the most important new addition for the franchise. Demon Intelligence. Demon intelligence is a a system of automating game play done so via a grid that acts sort of like a pseudo version of SQL. Instead of Select, From and Where we get Whom, Do what and When. The game comes with pre-sets that can be assigned. The incredibly useful all out attack which will automatically move the characters to the nearest enemy and attack them when they are within distance. However the great thing about demon intelligence is how you can tailor it for specific situations. One thing I did was create a template for exploring the item world where I would assign the player to go after chests if they were present on the board, if not then go after level spheres, if not then go after innocences and then attack normal enemies. Thus made item world exploration an automated process. The same can be said for the grinding aspect and even game play itself.
With demonic intelligence and auto battle enabled you can also toggle auto repeat. This means that if you find a map that is great for raising levels if you choose to play on it. Assign your auto battle team and have autorepeat turned on the game plays itself. The game also hints at this option for grinding by joking that you can have it on and watch a TV show or movie. I did just that. I even had it on while I was working only checking on it every hour or two to see my level progress. By using this function of the game. I hit max level in the story and super-reincarnated over 20 times before I felt comfortably strong enough to breeze through things. The game having this feature made things so much easier to finish the story and prepped me for the post-game shenanigans better than any other disgaea actually had.
With regards to the game itself. It should be noted the western release is only available on the switch. Which I find to be a blessing and curse. Since the complete editions of previous entries in the series have been released on switch I gotten used to playing them again on switch. I find the switch a great system to complement disgaea's grind aspect. Pick it up and play a few maps on the go here and there. The issue with having disgaea 6 on switch is that the system is not quite powerful enough to handle the huge numbers of damage it processes. When on auto battle I saw the game had frame rate issues and would hang for a bit when processing characters appearing all at once and attacking for huge numbers on screen. It felt like the switch was desperately trying to keep up. The game does have a performance mode that helps. But only slightly. Also in hand-held mode the game drains the switch battery fast. One session with a lot of grinding wore my switch battery down from full to near empty in the span of about 2 and a half hours. If playing in hand-held mode it would be wise to have a battery pack or power source to charge the battery.
With regards to the story and characters; the game's cast don't feel quite as charming or comedic as previous entries. However the main character Zed and his companion are quite fun and have an endearing quality to them due to the circumstances they find themselves in. This is also helped thanks to some snappy dialogue through fun back and forth banter between the two which is fun in English thanks to rather good voice acting but the rest of the cast are rather forgettable. Like previous entries in the series the game likes to parody various video games and anime here and there. Especially in the next chapter sections. But it feels a bit more restrained in wackiness compared to previous entries. Speaking of restrained, compared to previous entries there are a lot less character classes to choose from. I do find this a good change though as when I play the game I focus on a team of my favourite classes and get a bit overwhelmed trying to micromanage too many different classes. Having a smaller number to focus on was more enjoyable for me.
With all that said Disgaea 6 takes a tried and tested formula and adds new layers of depth to help with the levelling process. Sure the plot is more straightforward with not as memorable characters or as wacky antics. However the numbers get to astronomically high levels with the levels going up rather quickly. It is a great entry point for those looking to give it a try. With a system in place to take the chore out of grinding. I found more to appreciate the game play loop of gaining levels and resetting back to zero via reincarnation.
Review code - courtesy of Nippon-ichi Software America