|Nippon Ichi Software
The first time I had seen a Disgaea trailer on a Nintendo Direct a while back, I didn’t know what to think of the series. I enjoyed the thought of having a parody of SRPGs with insane stats and numbers, and with a story that’s more of a joke than anything, but didn’t see the appeal of playing as crude hellspawn. I don’t remember which game this was a trailer for, but it seems that these things are the norm for the Disgaea series as a whole. Regardless, I’ve decided to give Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny a fair shot. Will it prove my premonition wrong? Let’s find out.
Crude Humor: While most of Disgaea 6’s humor is meta in nature, there is no shortage of potty jokes or explicit references.
Prevalent Bad Language: Almost every other line of the MC’s dialogue uses the word “h*ll” profanely. Similar language is used frequently.
Bad Themes/Messages: The messages conveyed in Disgaea 6 range from bad to passable. An example includes that one character’s arc is to continue being self-centered in life to be happy.
Sexuality: As is unfortunately very common in these types of games, many female characters have greatly exaggerated animated breasts and little clothing. Meta humor further points out this feature, giving certain perks to “flat” or “curvaceous” figures.
Fantasy Violence (Magic): Disgaea 6 pits fictional characters against each other to fight to the death, by means magical and physical. Interestingly, I do not recall seeing blood.
Demons/Undead As Protagonists: Due to the setting of this game being various “Netherworlds”, most protagonists are either undead, demonic, or heretical. The main character himself is a zombie.
Political Corruption: A running joke and minigame in Disgaea 6 is that there is an underworld court which can be bribed and corrupted to the player’s favor. One item used for this game is alcohol to make opposing senators drunk.
My Friends Are My Power! … wait
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is about a zombie named Zed as he aspires to defeat the “God of Destruction,” who is destroying worlds in an unending rampage. Each time he attempts to take it down, though, he dies. However, thanks to a spell called “Super Incarnation,” Zed is able to continue attempting to kill the “God of Destruction” across many worlds, and make new friends along the way. He’s not keen on having more people with him at first, but warms up to the idea as his character develops.
The first half of the story is a bit of a grog. There are several different characters with potentially entertaining personalities, but their dialogue boils down to singular traits, such as: “I’ve got lots of money!”, “I’m gonna get my happy ending in love with a prince!”, “Justice! Heroism! TV!”, etc. The dialogue for the first half of the game made me want to hit my head against a wall. The characters develop to an acceptable level later, but not enough to make up for their boring introductory levels.
Auto-play and Anime
Disgaea 6 plays similar to other 3D SRPGs such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre. You control a variety of units in a 3D environment, telling them where to move, who to attack, how to attack, etc. Death carries little-to-no punishment in this game though, so one doesn’t have to worry about any permadeaths. Completing a battle level progresses the story and brings up another battle. Rinse and repeat.
Possibly because of not having permadeath, or just because the game is incredibly easy, I’ve used auto-play for 99.9% of all of my battle maps. As the name suggests, this is an option available within each battle to let the characters decide their own movements. There’s an awesome feature called “Demonic Intelligence” which allows characters to fight specifically programmed sequences, but I’ve never needed much more than the defaults. As a consequence of this automation, I quickly felt the need to multitask while “playing” Disgaea…so while I had it auto-grinding on my Switch, I was also kicking back and watching Boruto. Life is good.
So Much Stuff, So Little Need
Disgaea 6 has a lot to offer for powering up characters. Firstly, the game is designed to be grindy. There are many options for exactly how you want to grind battles. The “Item Dungeon” is where I went, a place where characters can automatically battle ten levels at a time and level up whatever item they’re fighting for. Similarly, the “Research Squad” also levels up weapons and acquires items, and operates similar to dojos in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. Otherwise, Story Missions can be replayed and unlock items depending on battle performance, and more difficult battle levels are able to be unlocked in the late-game. There’s even an unlockable “post-lude” after game completion which allows the recruitment of previous Disgaea characters, and a superboss waiting after that.
Those are just the ways for characters to level up from battling, but there’s still more trait-boosting at your disposal. Quests are always available to set goals to accomplish, and characters can be thrown into “squads” to pick up certains perks according to which squad they’re in. A feature called Super Reincarnation allows you to revert a fighter’s level down to 1 in order to give a 1% boost or more to certain stats. To help balance teams or boost performances, a “juice bar” feature allows for any character to be given stored-up stat boosters. Cheats are available almost immediately into the game which boost everything to obscene levels too, if you’re into that. I should mention that monsters called “innocents” dwell within some items to make their stats more powerful. They can be farmed, and leveled up to make items even more powerful. I still don’t fully understand them.
Here’s the kicker for all of this, though: very few of these options are actually necessary for story progression. I recommend sending characters off to level up, but this amount of extra stat-manipulation borders on laughably unnecessary. I wanted to, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care about most of these options after a while.
Please, Make it Stop
If I ask someone who doesn’t like anime, why they don’t like anime, a reason I often hear is that “the girls’ voices are annoyingly high when they speak!” I understood what they were talking about, but didn’t feel the same way…until I played Disgaea 6. In addition to some painful script choices, the voice acting for some characters in Disgaea 6 is nigh unbearable. Thankfully, the main cast seems to be okay, but the extra recruits/enemy units are obnoxious. Units such as the thief and evil eye are especially annoying, with voices pitched through the roof. Every character has bits of dialogue that are used in battle and deployment, so one can imagine how the annoyance only escalated, and even more so when at 2x speed. Consequently, I spent most of the game with volumes on very low levels.
Speaking of 2x speed, it’s a miracle that my Switch was able to run any fast forward at all. Disgaea 6’s frame rates are atrocious. When I had first begun the game, it was evident that players are meant to enjoy cinematic cutscenes for special moves, enjoy sharp 3D graphics, and play around with game settings like that. However, that is not the case if the player wants to keep their sanity. No matter who does it or how, each attack within a battle causes the entire game to freeze for a split second before initiating anything. If cutscenes/animations are enabled, it takes even longer for the game to load each attack. Ultimately, I found Disgaea 6 only truly playable when I had animations disabled and with graphics in performance mode, the lowest setting. It hurt to look at, but at least I could (somewhat) play the game. Or rather, have the game play itself. Regardless, playing Disgaea 6 still crashed my Switch three times throughout my playthrough. On one occasion, I had to restart an entire grind. Easy come, easy go, I suppose.
It should be noted that my Switch still has over 20 GB of storage space remaining, and I still had three crashes, and had to give my Switch breaks every few hours to cool down. Even though it’s a Switch exclusive, my evidence seems to be showing it wasn’t developed to be on Switch hardware.
It can’t be denied that Disgaea 6 has a certain charm to it, like if the Animaniacs turned undead, then lost a level of wit and celebrity cameos. I’m sure that there are some who may enjoy the humor that Disgaea 6 tries to deliver, and some who may even find the story to be well-developed and entertaining. I honestly have no idea what the age demographic is supposed to be here. However, I don’t believe there is a single person who enjoys obnoxious chibi voices and performance issues. If the first couple things I described are you, Disgaea 6 may still be worth it for you. But as for me, I don’t foresee Disgaea 6’s “destiny” to be experienced again.
The Bottom Line
Although bursting at the seams with content, it is clear that Disgaea 6 is not meant for all audiences, with performance issues that are pleasing to no one.