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Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness (PSP) artwork

Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness (PSP) review

"Laharl just wants to rule the Netherworld"

Never had the chance to play the PlayStation 2 original game, although I own part 2 and it is quite fantastic, therefore I went on trying the PSP iteration of the series and indeed, many great aspects I experienced in the sequel perform formidably on its predecessor, along with its witty dark sense of humor and characters who are portrayed here. Disgaea is a strategic jrpg what is a bit different from other tactics games you had tried. For one you play the role of a demon prince, not a dashing, selfless hero who is pure at heart and has the best intentions for everyone and everything. Laharl is egotistical, boastful, and quite selfish. Qualities he deems as compliment as he rules over the netherworld instead of a medieval kingdom that defends against demons. Disgaea is not your traditional rpg by any means.

The story begins with Laharl awoken by his Vassal Etna and finding out his father, the original Overlord, passed away during his slumber. Wasting no time Laharl begins his road to become the new Overworld of the Nether realm and will not stop at nothing to achieve it. Along the way he meets other companions such as the naive angel Flonne (who was sent to assassinate his father in the first place) among other characters who appear as the game progresses, including his untrusting, ever treacherous vassal Etna who plays more like a wild card than a loyal member of his cause. They all join in the fight to keep his realm free of invaders, whether they are from the heavens above, the Earth, or even the Netherworld itself. At the same time, Laharl slowly learns the importance of having compassion for others, all the while he continues to keep his boisterous attitude overall. Such lessons shown within the game come second to the game play and mechanics that are introduced in the series however, along with it’s merciless with and humor, which pulls no punches.

Disgaea introduces familiar methods into the battlefield along with new ones, such as with the additions of Geo Stones, which alters the balance of the field either benefiting the enemies or whoever steps into the colored areas while a battle is in progress. Said effects can be nullified once you destroy a Geo Stone and it will set off a chain reaction destroying all colored areas damaging friend and foe alike. You get extra bonuses if your number of destroyed colored areas is plentiful. Another mechanic is the ability to lift characters to toss them around the battlefield, whether they are allies or enemies. A handy way to try and tip the balance to your favor or to have your allies goes over areas that they could not be able to do so otherwise. In most Strategic RPGs once your leader is defeated you lose the game, but in Disgaea this is thrown out of the window. Even if Laharl gets eliminated you are able to continue the fight until you either win it or lose altogether.

Weapons, Items, and Armor are all bought within Laharl's castle, which serves as a hub for you to equip your army or create new characters and then use a portal to go through the various stages within the game. You can also dispute a session where it can be decided whether or not you can earn more money, items, or other miscellaneous things. If the jury votes against your demands you may challenge the naysayers in a fight to persuade them to rule in your favor, a task that is pretty difficult to achieve when doing so by force. There is also a hospital to treat your wounded allies and an Item world where you may go through a random set of fights to level up an item you choose to enter said world. In terms of the places you visit, you may revisit them to either gain more bonuses or to level up new allies, or simply move on to continue the story.

The soundtrack is another gem within this game. Some of the tracks are serious and dramatic, others are whimsical and mischievous, some of which resemble compositions made by music composer Danny Elfman. I will say one of my personal favorite tracks in this game is Running Fire, which sets a unique sense of pacing and amusing tone to the fight when it’s used. Some sound effects add to the intensity of the fight when you achieve a huge attack or spell, which really does impress.

If there is a negative to this great game, it would be that some battles are arrange in such a way, you have a very hard moment trying to figure out how to win them. Sometimes there would be conditions where you can do very little to survive along with boosts to the enemy which does nothing short of frustrate the player, but once you achieve a victory it is all well worth it.
Disgaea Afternoon of Darkness brings hours of fun and quite frankly you never get a dull moment playing it. Customizing characters alone is as immersive as slicing though hordes of zombies in battle. Quite frankly a great strategic rpg overall.


CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (October 29, 2018)

Cpt. Retro likes old school gaming the most and grew up playing Arcade games in Mexico. He also loves talking about retrogaming.

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