Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is the latest entry in the pretty well-known Disgaea series, which is the most popular game series made by Nippon Ichi Software. NIS America are responsible for bringing the fantastic Japanese titles created by Nippon Ichi Software to both Europe and the US, and have just released the sequel to the very first Disgaea title.

For anybody not familiar with the series, Disgaea is a bit of a mix of genres. It is a game which may look simple and charming on the surface, but the underlying combat and strategic systems are extremely deep. The game series combines an RPG (role playing game) approach (NIS’s speciality) with turn based strategy elements. You may be confused if you are a new player to the series, but stick at it, it truly is an outstanding series of games, and you will learn the mechanics of play in no time!

Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is a direct sequel to the original Disgaea game, Hour of Darkness, which released 10 years ago on Playstation 2. Do not fret, however, you do not need to have played the original game to understand this one. All the Disgaea games are quite distinct in terms of story, and don’t really follow on, although with a sequel such as this, there are some follow-ons from the original, but nothing crucial.

A word of warning before I go a bit deeper into the specifics of D2; if you plan to play this game, you will spend A LOT of time with it. The series gives hours, after hours, after hours of play and offers exceptional value, however, players of Disgaea know that the game consumes a lot of your time, and the hours fly by as you play it. Every single minute is filled with enjoyment, so much so, that most people lose track of the time while they are playing and often spend more than they intended. I was only introduced to the series from reviewing it since the website started, but, I fell in love with the series and have spent a lot of time with it since. The Disgaea series in particular has a lot of charm behind it.

Disgaea was created in Japan, and hence does not resemble any type of American anime. This Japanese style is the main reason for the charm, freshness and character behind the Disgaea series. Many parts of the game may leave you confused, primarily because they are not normal in our gaming culture, but secondly if you have not played the series before. These aspects are moreso related to mechanics and ‘in-jokes’ rather than the hard plot (which isn’t really a central feature of the series).

Each chapter in the game offers something unique and different. You will find a lot of the events and dialogue in the game to be VERY strange as you get used to the series. Thankfully, the very witty team at Nippon Ichi Software and the translation team at NIS America both aim to include as much humour as possible in all of their titles. The same can be said about D2, which is oftentimes a very light-hearted affair.

Now, the gameplay… where to start. The gameplay in the Disgaea series is all about turn based combat. It is a system which is accessible even to the new players, however, if you would like to delve further into become an expert strategist, it is a very complex system which would consume a lot of time. Basic attacks are mostly what new players will be using, however, if you delve deeper, you can use geo-symbols to alter the battlefield in your favour (or even deeper, create combos with these symbols to do extra damage) or use the special ‘evility’ (ability, but evil) which varies from character to character.

The game is basically endless in length. Many experienced players are still working on getting their characters to the shocking level of 9999, which is not an easy feat (and that is an understatement). There are many levels, secret levels, secret bosses and even secret lands and worlds in the game, each of which offer huge amounts of gameplay. Disgaea is a game that you will get exceptional value from if you have an interest in it.

There are very few flaws in the game. The graphics are great; the cute, charming sprites are vivid and clear; the environments are unique and well-crafted and the UI is detailed and easy to understand. The audio aspects (music, SFX and voice acting) are equally charming and impressive, delivering the usual level of quality we expect from NIS.

To sum up the game, D2 is an entry deeply rooted in the Disgaea series, which has the usual high standard of quality, charm and engaging gameplay which causes many gamers to spend three times as many hours they intended with the series. It is definitely worth a play if you are interested by anything mentioned in the review, and certainly if you enjoyed any Disgaea games in the past!