(NIS America for PS3)
By Mike Delano
The Disgaea series has always been a cup of coffee-type game. As in, its staggeringly complex approach to the strategy RPG genre is best not tackled after a long day of work or bleary-eyed right before bedtime. Nah, it’s strongly advised you brew up a cup of some strong stuff and sharpen that focus before attempting to wrap your mind around the myriad battlefield tactics, characters, and items. Those who do have always been rewarded with deep gameplay and a wicked sense of humor, and Disgaea 4 continues that tradition proudly. The sheer lunacy of the plot (sardines figure prominently) is delivered with aplomb by great writing and surprisingly good voice acting, and finding out what wacky terminology is around the next corner (“corrupternments,” “evil-lections” and “cam-pains” are all part of the game’s twisted and eerily familiar political system) is irresistible. The upgraded graphics from the last installment really let the fantastic character designs shine, and strategy novices will have plenty of time to admire them since deaths and restarts can be frequent if you’re not thinking tactically and using all of your available tools at all times. It can be intimidating, for sure, but the incredible depth on and off the battlefield allows players to find success through several different approaches and take pride in advancing through the game their own way. As a matter of fact, I’ve still got some advancing to do; time to brew up another pot.