(Any screenshots shown are from the first two chapters of the game to keep our review spoiler-free, and we’ll give a quick synopsis of the plot from the first few hours of gameplay.)
Disgaea is a series of SRPGs (strategy role-playing games) that has a unique spin on the formula with its emphasis on grinding your characters’ stats to astronomical levels.
Disgaea differs from other SRPG franchises such as Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy: Tactics by having a less serious story, with a lot of comedy told through its humorous writing.
At some points, Disgaea games themselves have chapters that are a parody of what you would usually find in RPGs, BUT, I guarantee that the plot does get serious when it matters such as its endings.
Disgaea is all about grinding and increasing your characters’ stats as much as possible. But, the grinding found in this series is NOT repetitive grinding like you would normally find in JRPGs. The grinding in this game is meant to be fun, and in fact, Disgaea 6 has an autobattle mechanic to automatically complete battles whenever you have spare time.
The grinding is fun because you would take advantage of mechanics in the game to speed up grinding and to even break the game itself. We will go over this in more detail later, along with some of the important mechanics found in the game. This game is a very different kind of Disgaea game due to having simplified mechanics and would be extremely approachable for newcomers.
Although this is the sixth game in the Disgaea series, it would be perfectly fine to play this as your first Disgaea game. The plots of Disgaea games are generally unrelated, with the exception of 1 leading into 2.
You may miss out on postgame references because you can generally unlock protagonists from old games in the postgame, but these are usually just very short cutscenes not related to the plot of the game itself.
In Disgaea, you have many classes of characters to choose from, from healers to spellcasters to fighters, each specializing in certain kinds of skills. As well, you have unique classes, which are important protagonist characters who may each have unique skills.
In general, you would want to build a team of any kind of characters and classes you want alongside the protagonists, but with power-leveling techniques it is possible to just beat the game with only one character.
There is a big disappointment related to character classes, unfortunately. Due to the move to 3D models, there are a lot of cut classes in Disgaea 6. Without counting any DLC, Disgaea 5 had over 20 human-type classes and over 20 monster-type classes, whereas Disgaea 6 has only 13 human-type classes and 9 monster-type classes. We cannot lie, this reduction is a slight disappointment.
The mainstay classes are still present in this game, but a few popular fan-favorite classes such as the maid class, are not making a return. On the other hand, there are still new classes including the Evil Eye, Mecha Girl, and Psychic, to name a few, so there are still many classes to choose from and many strategies that can be made from combinations of these new classes.
The 3D models are great and the animations convey the damage being dealt. Although it’s not the most technically-impressive game for 2021, the artstyle remains extremely faithful and respectful to older Disgaea games, with class designs remaining unchanged from Disgaea 5.
On a docked Switch, the game does not run at a stable framerate at its default setting of “graphics mode”. We would strongly recommend changing the graphics setting to “balanced” or even “performance mode” in order to achieve a stable framerate. It would have been a plus if the game was optimized better.
Although we are disappointed with the performance issues, we understand that the Nintendo Switch is a very unique kind of console that is difficult to program for and that developers are learning a lot right now on how to develop games for such a platform. On the upside, being able to play Disgaea portably and use the Switch’s touchscreen is a huge plus.
The Japanese release of Disgaea 6 was released on both the PS4 and Nintendo Switch, but unfortunately, the English version is only releasing on the Nintendo Switch at the time of writing. The Japanese release of Disgaea 6 on the PS4 does not have any framerate issues.
As mentioned before, Disgaea has a very humorous plot, and the cutscenes are done in this game the same as it was done in older Disgaea games. The cutscenes are done in a visual-novel style format with 2D character facial expressions. The game has English voice acting during these cutscenes and there is a lot of new talent, such as YouTuber ProZD, who does the voice acting for Misedor.
Although the game looks very different than older Disgaea games, which had 2D character sprites on the maps and 2D battle animations, the gameplay is still very similar.
One exception is that the numbers, such as character levels and character stats, are “inflated” compared to older titles. In old Disgaea games, you leveled normally through the main story, typically from level 1 to 100, and your characters’ stats would look normal with stats such as HP/SP, attack, and intelligence in the low thousands by endgame.
In old games, the postgame would have you power-level from the hundreds to 9999, and you would reincarnate the character back to level 1, and repeat the process several times over.
The old games would keep track of this and you would get base stat bonuses from reincarnating and releveling. You would end up with character stats in the hundreds of millions by the end.
From doing this, you would defeat powerful postgame bosses such as Baal, who has appeared in most of the Disgaea titles. However, this whole postgame process would not be exposed to many people, and it was reserved for very dedicated fans due to taking hundreds of hours to complete.
The main story in Disgaea only scratches the surface of gameplay you would find, and by the ending postgame you would be doing millions, billions, or even trillions of damage.
In Disgaea 6, however, your levels and stats are inflated from the beginning. It is a stylistic choice so that beginners and people only doing the story get to see big damage immediately and it feels very fun from the get-go.
In just the first few missions you can go from level 1 to the hundreds, whereas in the previous titles it would take the entire campaign to do so. It is very fun to quickly see your damage rack up without reaching postgame.
When you progress, the game does put symbols to easily read high damage, such as saying 3M, 3B, 3T, 3Qd, 3Qt, etc (for millions, billions, trillions, quadrillions, and quintillions) and possibly more. We have spoken with Japanese colleagues as well for strategies on dealing the highest damage, and we have even seen videos on how to deal septillions of damage.
Another change is in the gameplay loop. In older Disgaea titles you had to go to level 9999, reincarnate to level 1, and repeat this dozens of times because each time you would get extra base stats and bonuses, and the game would keep track of these reincarnations.
Now, however, the level cap is increased, so you no longer need to do this as frequently as you had to in the past, but you still can and it is been reworked as the “super reincarnation” mechanic. The new level cap is instead 99 million, not 9999! The max HP/SP is in the quadrillions, and the max other stats are in the hundreds of billions.
This is much higher than the stat caps found in previous entries, and it really does make you feel like a god by the time you finish the postgame content. The technical capabilities of this game is astonishing because of how large your stats can grow.
We would argue that the game ends up more tight-knit from having a smaller scope of classes. There are many other instances of the fat being trimmed, such as no more exclusive weapon skills.
There are a few disappointing removals. The “Character World” (a dice-rolling board minigame where you played to increase your character’s stats) is removed and is replaced with the Super Reincarnation and Karma system. The Magichange mechanic is also removed, which was a mechanic to equip monster units onto humanoid characters by turning them into weapons.
Though we are a tad disappointed with reduced weapon skills and cut classes, there’s still over 300 evilties in the game. Evilities are bonuses you can equip to a character, how many you equip depends on how many classes a character has mastered. Combinations of evilities can really break the game!
For instance, there is evilities that increase damage to certain classes. Some increase damage if there is only one enemy on the map, great for bosses! There’s an evility that cuts your HP in half to double your SP, and you can also power up skills in the skill shop.
That is just a few examples, but with hundreds of these evilities out there you can really break the game in a good way, by simply playing smart!
The key point if you are on the fence is to remember that, with Disgaea, you can grind mindlessly, BUT, you can also grind intelligently too. You can also find ways to keep breaking the game.
There is a new “D-merit” system for each character exclusive to this game. The D-merit system works such that if a character has achievements such as dealing a certain number of damage, taking a certain number of damage, mastering classes, and mastering weapon types just to name a few examples, then you get extra bonuses.
Some of these bonuses are in the form of Karma, which you can use when you super reincarnate a character for other bonuses, such as increasing that character’s movement ability, jumping ability, or base stats, just to name a few.
There is also the new juice bar mechanic, allowing you to easily upgrade your characters’ stats using your HL currency and extracts, which can be grinded from completing stages. How did we get out stats so high? Through exploiting these kinds of mechanics.
If it all sounds tricky and overwhelming, I would not blame you for being afraid; however, the game has an amazing tutorial. We went through it and it was not overbearing at all, and even for veterans of the franchise such as us, it was able to succinctly tell us details of game mechanics and not overstay its welcome.
The game gives you the reigns, and it is up to you to break the game using the knowledge you are given.
One controversial change to the series is the addition of the “autobattle” mechanic. As it implies, you can set up your characters’ AI and set them to repeat battles on a map of your choce to automatically grind levels, say, while you slept or went out for errands.
It is fun, and you can definitely break the game from using it too much, but I think it is a great for players struggling and you do not have to make use of the mechanic if you do not want to.
A lot of newcomers to the Disgaea franchise have struggled getting through the story due to not wanting to grind and not understanding how to exploit game mechanics. Whereas on the other hand, you have speed-runners who can beat the game’s superboss, Baal, in just a few hours.
There definitely is a dichotomy of players in Disgaea and I do not blame the developers for putting a crutch in the game to those who have limited time.
For ourselves, we used it to break the game and have fun seeing how much damage we could do. And there are the superbosses and postgame challenges, which autobattle grinding would not necessarily help you get past – there is a lot of extra challenges if you are a die-hard fan of Disgaea so there is content for everybody.
In addition to fun gameplay mechanics, there is a great story to watch unfold as you progress through the game. Although we have stated that Disgaea is funny and often a parody, the game does have a very concrete plot tying it together.
The soundtrack of the game is great. There is a lot of great music in stages and the base music has great Japanese vocals similar to older Disgaea games that makes for excellent background music for us while planning our next move.
Overall, Disgaea 6 is still a great game that lives up to the hype of Disgaea series. There are many people disappointed by cut content, but at the same time, the game does feel significantly less bloated compared to Disgaea 5, which may have been overwhelming to newcomers due to the sheer number of mechanics it had.
Disgaea 6 makes many changes to attract newcomers, but these changes will absolutely not hinder you if you are already familiar with Disgaea games. We have played all of the games, and we were still able to get through the game no problem. Sure, the 3D models are not as crisp as 2D sprites, but it is still extremely respectful to the art style of Disgaea.
To sum it quickly, Disgaea 6 definitely made a few missteps, the cut classes and the performance issues on the Switch just being a few, but, it certainly still lives up to the Disgaea name.
The great gameplay, funny characters, excellent soundtrack, and hilarious story are all what you would find in a Disgaea game. You still get 2D models during the Visual novel style cutscenes and great voce-acting.
As an extra bonus, the publishers are giving away free Hololive character DLCs which was previously paid DLC when it was released in Japan.
If you want a one-of-a-kind SRPG where you can enjoy a great story and also level up your characters to have stats in the billions, this is the game for you!