Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice Review
Since the original Disgaea, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was released in 2003 the series has become prominent within strategy RPG world. The series has transformed a bit over the years but the series still holds the title of being one of the best SRPGS around.
The story in Disgaea 3 takes place in a new netherworld that takes the form of a giant school. Known as the Nether Institute Evil Academy you take control of the Mao, the son of the Dean/Reining Overlord. The game starts with Mao reading a comic book about a hero defeating an Overlord for “research”. We soon find out that Mao’s ambition is to become a Hero so he can defeat his father. His demon butler Geoffrey tells Mao of the location of a Hero and Mao sets off to defeat him. It turns out the Hero is Almaz, a human who traveled to the Netherworld to defeat the overlord. He wishes to defeat the overlord to protect his princess. Mao ends up taking Almaz’s title of Hero which starts a transformation of Almaz slowly turning into a demon (within 666 nether hours to be exact). It turns out that Almaz isn’t really a true Hero and that his title is “fake” and Mao now has to open his heart (An apparent impossible task for a demon).
So that is the basic plot of Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. In more ways than one it’s a story of growing up, maturing and realizing what is important. The two main characters, Mao & Almaz (even though you could argue he is just a secondary character) go through their own journey of self discovery and eventually become better people in the process (even though Almaz was already a good person he just didn’t realize his potential). There are a variety of character’s that add the duo in their journey such as the Delinquent Beryl, Almaz’s princess and a chef that goes BOOM! Now is probably a good time to mention the honor student and delinquent dynamic of the game. Being a demon school an honor student is a student who never goes to class and never does work (A bad student in human standards) while a delinquent is a student who does all their work and attends class (A good student in human standards).
The characters are pretty good, the best one probably being Almaz but the story does not come to the quality that Hour/Afternoon of Darkness had but that by no means the story is bad. It comes petty close to Hour, it just doesn’t surpass it. That said the characters are still deep, extremely funny at times spouting out quotes in the style of (Keep in mind these are not direct quotes) “Ok enough talking, *revs up chainsaw* lets open that heart of yours”. “Wait what you are doing?!?” “Oh relax, I read that demons can survive this” “Where did you read that??? It’s still going to hurt what do you think demons are?”, or “I’ll make rockets blast out of your boobs”. I should probably wrap up this story section so…the number of chapters has been reduced over previous games with a higher amount of battles within each one making chapters longer, sometimes too long and the in-between chapter sequences return with each chapter supposedly being the last one.
So the Gameplay I and many many others have grown to love from Disgaea has returned with some tweaks. For those who don’t know Disgaea 3 is a Strategy Role Playing Game (SRPG for short) that has the player a number of characters on a map. The player and the computer controlled enemies take turn moving their character’s around the map with the goal being to defeat everyone of the opposing side. Now Disgaea, allows you to create characters (more on that later) and the amount of characters you have can well exceed the number you can actually put on the field. The game limits it to about a dozen characters at a time and if a character is defeated, that slot cannot be reused. Now here things get a bit complicated and to ease your mind from exploding I’ll be splitting Gameplay into a number of sub Sections.
Mana returns from previous games as the driving power of the character creation system, however mana has now become far more important to the game than just creating characters or for proposals (More on that later). Mana is now the key ingredient for character creation, Homeroom assembly acts, and skills. The skill system has been completely overhauled from the previous games with weapon class ranks being removed. In previous games characters had/still have an affinity towards certain types of weapons such as swords, spears, guns etc. The way the skill system used to work is that the more you used a particular weapon the higher your skill in it would become. Each character had a level rank for each weapon and based on that level the rate your skill improved faster or slower. Whenever your weapon skill reached a particular level you would gain a weapon skill. This system worked but was a bit tedious because, especially at the higher weapon skill levels, it could take you the entire story + some to get all the skills for a particular level and it was just very time consuming.
The new system uses mana (which is obtained from killing enemies) as the method of achieving skills. Characters still have affinity towards certain weapons, but what this does now is limit the skills you can “purchase” with mana. For each weapon there are a number of skills to buy, with a default of 3 being able to be purchased from the start and the others needing to be “unlocked”. The same skill leveling returns, meaning as you use a skill it will gain experience and level up using more SP(used for magic and skills) and becoming more powerful. However this is not the only way to level up skills. There is also another level up system with skills which has players using mana to improve the skills, greatly increasing the damage/usefulness/SP used for the skill. For example mana leveling is needed to raise the number of enemies a skill can hit and increasing the damage at the same time. This dual system of skill leveling makes mana a much more important/more valuable resource than it was before. When characters are using skills on the same enemy there is a chance they can combine. For example Mao can be using his special technique Burning Finger, while Almaz is using the technique Spinning Swordsman. Depending on who goes first you can have Burning Swordsman, or Spinning Finger. When techniques combine their power is basically supercharged creating more damage than the two techniques would deal on their own.
Of course there is a downside which is that with mana being more important than ever, you need to prioritize making your skills stronger or gaining new items/allies in the Homeroom. With that we move onto the Homeroom. The Homeroom is Disgaea 3’s version of the Dark Assembly. The homeroom is in the classroom. The classroom is where all your characters sit and you are limited to the number of characters you can have by the size of the classroom. There are bonuses for characters depending on where you sit and who is around you. Let’s say Mao and Almaz sit next to each other in the classroom, this increases the chance of them combining attacks/attacking together during battle. Depending on the club you are in certain seats can wield certain bonuses. In the Homeroom you can make proposals for clubs, new characters, the ability to create new classes etc.
Like Disgaea 2 before it each tier of a character class (A stronger/slightly different looking version of the original) needs to be unlocked by the tier below it. This is different from the original where the first tier can unlock all other tiers as long as it made the level. In the system introduced in Disgaea 2/3 a warrior needs to unlock the 2nd tier, then the 2nd tier needs to unlock the 3rd and so on and so forth. Also the humanoid classes that require a specific requirement, like the Ninja needs to be unlocked from the Homeroom before it can be made. This is slightly annoying since, for example the ninja, costs a lot of mana to just unlock, then even more to create, and it is a little unfair but works for balancing the game out.
Replacing Geo Cubes from previous games, geo blocks are blocks that can be stood upon and act in the same way cubes did before, creating speicla effects upon the glowing ground they are on. However in their new block forms, there are areas are these blocks can cut off, or make it harder to get to places. These blocks can turn simple maps into giant puzzles where figuring out how to make the highest geo chain and unblocking your path is half the battle.
Now it’s true that Disgaea 3 isn’t a looker, with its ps2 quality sprites it definitely doesn’t look like something that should be on a HD console like the Playstation 3. That said it doesn’t really detract the game in my eyes, sure it’s nowhere near the quality of graphics of let’s say Motorstorm: Pacific Rift or Little Big Planet, but then it’s not trying to be. It would have been nice if the sprites were HD quality but the way they are now doesn’t detract too much from the game.
The audio quality of Disgaea is again, completely top notch. The voice acting is extremely well done with few complaints with a good soundtrack but the music isn’t as memorable as some of the tracks from Hour of Darkness like Dark Whisper (A song that any fan of the original can sing) or Lord Laharl’s…Hymm, but it’s still a good soundtrack.
Phew that was a long review to write, so after all that reading (writing for me) where do I stand with the game? Gameplay wise it’s the best Disgaea to date with a story that almost rivals that of the first. If you’re looking for a great game that exceeds on almost every level then look no further than Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. The story alone will consume around 28 hours of your time and that is with minimal grinding, no side quests or any of the other hidden goodies within the game. This is well worth the price of $50(Cheap for a Ps3 game) and I can whole heartily recommend this game to anyone.