Review – Disgaea 1 Complete

Final Fantasy Tactics is a classic, believed by many to be not only one of the greatest Final Fantasies, but one of the best tactical JRPGs ever made. The Disgaea franchise began in 2003 with the release of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness for the PlayStation 2. While it is considered a spiritual successor, it does feature plenty of its own additions and tweaks to the formula to set itself apart. Disgaea 1 Complete, a remake of the first game, is the definitive way to see how it started and includes all content ever released for the original game. It’s a PSP re-release completely remade with crisp HD graphics in the original’s 2D style. It’s a perfect example of modernizing the looks, while keeping the same gameplay and style that made the original a hit in the first place, something many remakes/remasters fail to accomplish.


It’s familiar enough to feel like an old friend.

At first glance, the game may seem to have great gameplay, but it’s nothing you haven’t already seen a million times before. Bring your party onto the map, attack and move once per turn, defeat all enemies, then move onto your next map. After a couple of hours however, you’ll begin to see Disgaea’s unique charms. Mainly just how over the top and insane it is, not only from a story perspective which is hardly unique amongst Japanese games, but it’s gameplay and progression systems and what it allows you to do. Most strategy games prize balance and control as it’s contributions to gaming, vowing to deliver the perfectly balanced and fair tactical experience. Disgaea is not one of those games.


What’s 47 million points of damage between old friends?

Starting with its unit level cap of 9999 (the maximum value the original game was capable of reaching), the scaling of damage abilities and combos that can reach into the billions with a single attack. Then there’s the 100 level Item World dungeons for every single item in the game both consumable and equipment related and trust me, there are a lot of them, as well as the ability to field ANY monster in the game you defeat as a party member alongside the large number of jobs. Thanks to all of these factors, you get a strategy game where you never lack for variety of any kind.

You are always stumbling across a new item which brings you a new Item World dungeon to explore in order to power up the item in unique ways, unlocking a new map set to explore, or defeating a new class of monster and adding it to your ranks. This game is feature creep done right, with so many different mechanics and ideas thrown together, getting in each other’s way, and otherwise turning what in any other game would be a disaster into glorious insanity. At the center of it all is the Dark Assembly.


What other game allows you to bring characters onto the field who double as Nukes?

The Dark Assembly is the most overt showing of how little Disgaea cares about enforcing rules and balance by putting the core rules of the game in your hand. Want to make the game harder? Get more experience? Add a higher level character to your party? Make store prices cheaper or more expensive but it’s higher quality stuff? Or just get some free money? Then you can appear before the Dark Assembly (like a Senate for the Underworld) and put your proposal up for vote. If you don’t care for the trappings of democracy in your demonic rule, then you are always free to skip the formalities, and murder every single court member who dared to disagree with you and pass the bill yourself. If you do prefer the less fun peaceful method though, don’t worry about RNG because as you progress through the game and your might and reputation in the world grows, so will the acquiescence of the court. By the time you beat the game and the real game begins, they will approve nearly every proposal you present.


The dialogue prefers being straight to the point.

There’s the story as well of course. The main character is a demon named Laharl, the son of the current Overlord of the Underworld, King Krichevskoy. Well I should say FORMER Overlord, as at the start you are awoken from a two year slumber by one of your father’s remaining vassals, Etna, who informs you that your father is now dead and his other vassals are in open revolt. Laharl takes it upon himself, alongside Etna and her mercenary Prinny squad, to lay claim to your father’s title and become the next Overlord. It’s a simple plot set-up, supported by some quirky writing, all with a humorous overture instead of the more serious tone most RPGs go for. I found it worked well and contrasts favorably with the complexity and mayhem of the gameplay.

For being a 14 year old game, Disgaea 1 wears its age very well. The gameplay still more than holds up all these years later, even if it’s been improved since then in other places. Alongside the new remade graphics that show it as it was meant to be seen, this is a game that is more than worth any fan of the genre’s time and a perfect starting place for newcomers to both the franchise and the genre itself. Best part is, once you are done there are four other games ready to be played and things only go up from here.


Graphics: 9.0

While the effects are almost uniformly underwhelming, the smoothness of the 60FPS animation work, alongside the brand new HD graphics make for a gorgeous game, even if it lacks the flashy punch of other games.

Gameplay: 8.5

While overall a timeless formula, this is the only part of the game that reminds you it’s a remake of a 14 year old game. Not bad or dated by any means, it’s merely a system that has since been iterated upon, especially by the game’s four sequels.

Sound: 7.0

What voice acting there is out of the many lines of dialogue is decent enough. Sound effects won’t wow you either. The music is actually pretty good however, with some decent soundtracks.

Fun Factor: 9.0

The variety, humorous writing, and the ways the game allows you to subvert it’s own rules make for a fantastic tactical experience both for new fans to the franchise and old fans hoping to re-experience it with a new coat of paint.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Reviewed on Switch.
Disgaea 1 Complete will be available on October 9th, 2018 on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. 
A copy of Disgaea 1 Complete was provided by the publisher.