Graphics:
7.4
Gameplay:
8.0
Sound:
7.6
Control:
7.5
Replay Value:
8.2
Overall Rating:
7.7
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
NIS America
Developer:
Nippon Ichi Software
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
Strategy/RPG


You know, maybe the best way to summarize this game is as follows: It’s Disgaea . And when you say, “it’s Disgaea ,” strategy/RPG aficionados know exactly what to expect, while anyone else will likely get this confused look on their face. But considering that any new installment in the long-running, highly in-depth, critically acclaimed franchise is geared specifically to the niche strategy-loving crowd, those two words constitute a short yet fitting summary.

If you played Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice on the PS3 back in 2008, you may or may not wish to pick up the Vita iteration. It’s true that Absence of Detention features all the downloadable content for the PS3 version but for the most part, we’re talking about two very similar titles. The Vita iteration only suffers from a slight graphical downgrade where the sprites and environments aren’t quite as sharp. However, there are more animations and character reactions during the comical cut-scenes, and the Vita allows for simple touchscreen controls for combat. Such a feature is unnecessary but it works fine.

As was the case with the audio in Absence of Justice , it’s extremely subjective. If you’re a big fan of humorous, over-the-top voice performances and a well-orchestrated yet somewhat repetitive soundtrack, you’ll enjoy the various music and voices. For me, I found the acting to be hysterical one minute and really irritating the next, so it’s sort of a mixed bag in my eyes. But there’s no denying the great sound effects during combat, and I’ve always liked the music track selections in these games. They just get a little tiring during particularly long battles.

Disgaea is all about pure turn-based strategy, and the fans dearly hope this never changes. You select your ally, move, and select a command; the execution of that command can be given immediately, or you can wait to execute when some or all of your characters in place. Doing the latter is critical, as it allows you to group your team in a way that may grant combination and team attacks, which are often devastating. The enemy side doesn’t receive a turn until you hit “End Turn,” which of course shouldn’t be done until you’re completely finished.

For years, this has been a staple structure for the franchise, and it hasn’t changed yet (thankfully). There’s a huge amount of intricacy and complexity involved in both the actual combat and the pre-battle preparation, which goes well beyond your standard leveling up and selecting new abilities. It’d take far too long to explain it all, but let’s just say that Absence of Detention doesn’t skimp on the depth or longevity, as you once again have an almost limitless level cap (9,999), the infamous Item World, and a bevy of abilities, equipment, and items.