Monday 6 November 2023

Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtuless Review (Switch)


Somewhere out there will be someone who has completed all the Disgaea games, and not just the seven mainline titles but the spinoffs and probably Phantom Brave and a host of the others NIS titles. We are happy to be honest and say that isn’t us and we also didn’t make it all the way to the end of this Disgaea entry. But unless we wanted our review to come out next year we had to stop playing at some point. And just in case you think we are tapping out early, the developers claim a 400-hour run time on this one so just go with us here.

We found Disgaea 6 solid, but it struggled to keep our interest in the long run, especially compared to other games in the series. The new look in particular didn’t settle well with us, but we are glad to say that Disgaea 7 is much more visually appealing and consistent in it’s style. This in part comes from the game taking inspiration for its look from the Edo period of Japanese history. This has allowed for a lot of the rough edges and visual clutter to be stripped back and give us something that looks modern, but also keeps the series looking good enough for current systems.

This time the story follows a rich and spoiled tourist girl called Pirilika who has arrived in the universe to take in the unique culture and understand more about their Bushido code. Unfortunately, she finds that the universe has been overrun by demons working for the big bad Shogun Demmodore Opener and has thus lost it. She’s soon joined by a grumpy samurai named Fuji who is drawn to the magical sword she happens to be carrying around in her bag. It turns out the sword is one of seven founding weapons and the two set off to find the rest and overthrow the evil Shogun.

In terms of mechanics, the core ones never really change when it comes to Disgaea. Levels take place across grided environments with characters having different movement, magic, and attack stats. Various obstacles and bits of the map add or take away various bonuses and most levels are completed by either defeating a boss or eliminating all opposition. This is a massive oversimplification of course as every stat of every character can be changed and manipulated in countless ways until you have the ultimate team of heroes ready to march through to the end.

As an added complication, levels often have the series tradition of geo panels present as well. These are coloured squares which are linked to a node which adds effects such as upping attack power or healing. If you destroy nodes in the right order and in the right places, it’s possible to clear all the coloured squares and gain a huge bonus.

Unlike some previous entries Disgaea 7 does a very good job of drip-feeding news systems to you. You’ll start out with very little to sort out aside from the basic battles but as you progress through the worlds more and more shops and buildings will unlock back at your base. There’s a hospital of course and weapon and items shops which are self-explanatory, but you’ll soon get the juice bar to allow bonus boosting of stats and the dark assembly where you can go and try and get new rules implemented, change upcoming levels or a host of crazy other things. There are bonus missions, cheat rooms, squads, and the meta game of the item world, it all seems sometimes like you’ll never get to the end of it all.

For those new to the series, the item world is a series of randomly generated levels which occur when players want to jump inside an item or weapon. For each level you beat the object will get stronger and you can find item world citizens as well which add more bonuses once completed. Considering you can do this with every single item in the game you could lose thousands and thousands of hours here if you really wanted to.

Most games in the series have a sort of gimmick added into them. In the past we’ve had monsters being able to be turned into weapons, tower battles (where characters stack on top of each other) and ridable giant creatures. Vows of the Virtueless brings ‘Jumbification’ into the mix. When a character fills its meter it’s able to grow to gigantic Kaiju proportions. Characters become so big that they don’t even fit on the battlefield anymore. Instead, they stand at the back or to the side and can unleash huge area effect attacks. Giant characters also add effects to the whole battlefield both positive and negative. Of course, this also makes them more vulnerable as multiple enemies can reach the edge of the battlefield and all attack at once.

Overall, Disgaea 7 is up there with the series best. It’s easy to access for newcomers while also being incredibly challenging as you progress to the depths of the game. Mechanics are complex but introduced slowly so that you are never overwhelmed, and the writing is top draw and encapsulates all the humour and quirks we have come to expect. Whether you are new to the series or a veteran this is one of the best games of its kind and it works extremely well on the Switch. Highly recommended.

Overall 9/10


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