Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice review
It's like a woman, it needs commitment.
Amazing voice acting.
Huge amount of customisation options.
Story is quite average.
Amount of grinding may put some off.
It’s usually a bit of an eye opener seeing how other cultures of the world operate. For example, how those funny Yanks drive on the wrong side of the road, or how Middle-Eastern women can’t show their faces in public. The culture represented in Disgaea 3 is different too. In fact, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Disgaea 3 is set on a large school campus in the Netherworld, where life is very…..strange. Here, it’s normal to break the rules. Getting high grades, responding with manners and rocking up to class 5 minutes early would make you a frowned-upon delinquent. On the other hand; wagging class, attacking teachers and disrupting everyone else are the actions of a true honour student, worthy of praise. Now you’re probably thinking that the Netherworld is just the place for you! You would probably be right, particularly if you’re one of those annoying, rebellious teenager. Disgaea 3 provides a very satisfying, memorable Strategy RPG experience that leads the pack by a mile in the area of customisation. This is the only Disgaea game I have played, and I liked it a lot. It will probably satisfy quite a wide audience, but it’s definitely a must play for the somewhat niche audience of SRPG fans and those who love spending their days grinding and customising until their fingers stop functioning.
Now the Netherworld is a strange place and full of even stranger characters. The story focuses on the character Mao, who is the son of the Overlord (the ruler of the Netherworld). Mao is in one of his moods because his dad destroyed his video game save files, which contained thousands of hours’ worth of data. And how does he decide to seek revenge, you ask? To DESTROY HIS FATHER! I would be pretty pissed too if my Daddio did that to me, but my sense of morality can see that that’s a bit extreme. So yes, the game is basically a comedy act where nothing can be taken seriously. The characters are a clear reinforcement of this. They are excellently constructed and portrayed by an amazing cast of voice actors. The whole experience resulted in a constant smile. However, even with the surprising amount of twists and turns and the great moments of humour, the story is not the selling point of the game, so don’t expect anything close to an epic tale. It’s the holy-crap-this-is-insane amount of customisation that will hook you in. Below is an image from a cut-scene.
Your journey for revenge begins with Mao, and a few other classmates (generic characters) who will aid him in battle. He will soon be joined by a bunch of very individual, story driven characters, and whichever other characters you wish to create (created characters play no role in the story whatsoever). I cannot even begin to explain the level of customisation that is available here. It is so involved that I was continually learning how it worked many hours after completing the game. Firstly, there are the many, many classes that can be unlocked. Each class has their own strengths, weaknesses and unique Evility (special passive ability). Then there are the weapon classes (swords, axes, etc) which hold their own sets of abilities, which can be upgraded in bother rank and level by using both points earned during battle, and actually using them in battle. You’ll have to carefully decide which weapon type will suit which class. Each character can also equip several pieces of armour, and there are thousands of them. And did I mention that each character can level up to level 9999? Well they can, multiple times, because each class has 5 stages and progressing to the next stage of a class will reset your level back to 1. Every single item in the game can also be upgraded. For example, you can enter the world of a single potion, fight through 10, 20, 60 stages, and level up its properties as well as taming its citizens for extra statistical boosts. Yes, this can be done with every single weapon, armour and item. There is also a world inside each Class too. By smashing through the Class worlds, you can permanently increase some of the characters statistics. Don’t take your eyes off the screen, I’m still talking! There is also Homeroom management. By sitting characters in different seats and putting them in different groups, their battle efficiency will be altered, which takes a lot of thought. Then there are classes of monsters that can aid you in battle, which adds a whole new level of strategy. All in all, I’ve never seen so much customisation is a video game, ever. This is by no means a requirement to complete to the game. The option is there for the players who wish to take on the post-game, which provides one hell of a challenge and will require hundreds of hours’ worth the grinding and customising. I know these words will put many people off, but I know there are many gamers out there who live for this stuff. If you’re one of them, then this game is a must have.
There’s no point in allowing excessive grinding and customising to ruin your social life if you’re not able to see the results. Fortunately, Disgaea 3 features a pretty decent battle system that offers gamers quite a lot. As you would expect in any SRPG, the typical grid like system is present, where players and foes can move a certain number of spaces and perform an attack (based on their movement stat). Each map has a single spawn point and players can select a total of ten party members to fight on the grid at any given time. If one character dies, you will not be able to replace him with a reserve, as the new maximum characters will be reduced to 9. On the field, characters can attack, defend, use an item, throw other characters or enemies around the map, perform a combination attack, or use a special ability (which can also be combined with other attacks). In addition, there are environmental effects (called Geosquares) which will alter the statistics (positively or negatively) of anyone currently positioned over the square. The system allows for a lot of strategy and caters for the insane customisation very well. Aside from the story maps, there is an infinite amount of other maps to explore as every map in the Item World and Class World is random. Plus, there are a load of post-game maps that can be unlocked. The amount of content is massive will drain your life away if you allow it to. Below is a video of your party in action.
Disgaea 3 is a weird game. It has a weird setting, with a weird story and ever weirder characters. And guess what? The presentation is weird as well. The music demonstrates this perfectly. After every battle, Mao is returned to headquarters (the school) where he can heal and customise until progressing on to the next battle. Here, the music is a strange Japanese pop song that sounds like it would be a top 20 hit in a kindergarten for the mentally insane. Its repetitive nature will drive you crazy but also has you bopping and singling along, just after you check to make sure no one is watching you. Much of the music is like this. I would like to say that sprites are weird too, but they’re pretty traditional. I’ve always been a fan of sprites and the sprites in Disgaea 3 work well with the 3D backgrounds. The music, the graphics, the voice acting, the menus and everything else combines very well to create a beautifully uniquely presented game. When you think about, it would have to be of a high quality because who really wants to spend hundreds of hours looking at the video game equivalent of Sarah Jessica Parker? (Don’t tell my girlfriend I said that….).
Disgaea 3 has a lot to be praised for, particularly for how damn-bloody-super-ginormous it is. The amount of options available in the customisation department, the unlimited number maps and the lengthy post-game is enough to draw many gamers in. Even so, the story is far from an epic, and considering this is something I look for in game, I will be rating this game lower than those who do not place such importance in a strong narrative. I’ve provided you with enough information to make a decision for yourself. If you’re into the games strong points then I’m confident that you won’t find a game as enjoyable as this. Otherwise, like me, you’ll probably enjoy it, but stop shortly after finishing the main game.