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Nintendo Switch  header logo

Disgaea 5 Complete Nintendo Switch Review - If you love grinding, you'll be in heaven

For: Switch

Fire Emblem fans need not apply

Product: Disgaea 5 | Publisher: NIS America | Format: Switch | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Disgaea 5 Switch, thumbnail 1
There must be fans of Disgaea out there somewhere, or the franchise wouldn't be five entries deep. I just can't for the life of me fathom why anyone would bother though.

Sure, the combat is strategic, deep, and full of interesting mechanics, but you could say the same about Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics - both of which have far more appealing features surrounding the combat.

Disgaea 5 is just an ugly, soulless, poorly written, and inaccessible monster of a strategy RPG that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Strategic withdrawal

The Nintendo Switch is without a Fire Emblem right now, so you might be tempted to grab Disgaea 5 instead. It looks similar, with its anime visuals and turn-based strategy battling, but don't be fooled.

For a start, you have to deal with irritating cliched characters - the primary two of which are a moody wisecracking swordsman and pompous princess. Together they're just insufferable, with reams of dialogue that's supposed to be funny but will have you clawing your eyeballs out.

Then you've got the ugly world to contend with. The hub where you grab new weapons, items, skills, and hire new heroes feels just like a city in a freemium MMO. 

NPCs simply stand still with a label over their head that gives you a description of their role. It's completely devoid of life and pulls you right out of the experience.

In fact, I'd much rather the hub be a menu screen instead. At least that way I could have just focused on performing my out of battle duties as quickly as possible.

It's all just so incredibly inaccessible as well. Each time you talk to an NPC, you have to read a lengthy guide about how a particular system works.

It's an incredibly unappealing way to experience a franchise for the first time, and will just leave you feeling overwhelmed if you're unfamiliar.

So unless you're a dedicated Disgaea fan, your initial experience will be one of irritation, eye rolling, frustration, and apathy.

Battle through it

If you make it as far as your first combat scenario though, Disgaea does improve substantially. You're still bombarded with information about intricate systems from the get-go, but you at least get a chance to put it into practice.

Combat works like this. You choose which heroes you want to spawn from a portal, queue up their initial actions, then end your round and watch it play out.

You take your team's turn in one go so you can make them work in unison. You can perform combos, team moves, and various other special attacks depending on unit placement and the attacks you use and when.

It's intricate, sure. But you've got 100s of hours worth of content here to figure out how it all works, and it's not a particularly punishing experience.

It encourages experimentation and if you really take to the battle system, you'll feel motivated to. That's great.

The bottom line

But it's just such a shame that overall it's an off-putting experience that requires intense dedication to squeeze the fun out of.

You'll have to calculate stats, read a bunch of guides, and grind an awful lot before you really get to the core of the experience.

The few characters that actually have a personality are cliched and annoying, while the rest you spawn gacha-style. As a result, your party won't be made up of interesting characters tied into the story, but soulless mercenaries.

Perhaps there are those out there who find that appealing, but in a world where Fire Emblem exists, it all just feels completely unnecessary.

The bottom line is, don't buy Disgaea 5 unless you already love the franchise - and certainly don't buy it if you want an experience similar to Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics. You'll only be disappointed.

But if you love Disgaea, grinding, researching stats, and obtuse freemium MMOs, then by all means give it a go. You just might stick with it long enough to see the good in it.

Disgaea 5 Complete Nintendo Switch Review - If you love grinding, you'll be in heaven
Reviewer photo
Chris James | 7 June 2017
Disgaea 5 Complete is an inaccessible, ugly, and grind heavy strategy RPG that asks far too much of you to get anything out of it. Unless you already love the franchise, we'd strongly urge you to stay clear
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