Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness ReviewKyle Stepp
You've probably never woken up to a day quite as bad as Laharl has. Not only does he catch his "loyal" vassal Etna using a variety of guns to try to wake him up, but he learns that he's been asleep for two years! If that's not bad enough, he also finds out that his father, the Overlord of the Netherworld, died shortly after Laharl went into his nap, and now legions of demons are trying to take the title that rightfully belongs to him.
So, what's a demon prince to do? If Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness is anything to go by, the answer seems to be thus:
A demon prince is to kick some ass in some of the silliest, most engaging strategy RPG battles you'll ever see. Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness is merely the name of the enhanced PSP port of the legendary PS2 game, which was monikered Hour of Darkness, and just like its PS2 brethren, it follows the exploits of the demon prince Laharl and his wacky cohorts as he takes on the fools that would dare to challenge his claim to the throne. To do so, he'll take part in turn-based grid battles on an isometric field, just like in the majority of strategy RPGs. Both before and after the battles, and even throughout, some of the most hilarious, yet touching story scenes unfold. Watch and laugh as Laharl decides to take mercy on his foe and "only beat him half to death," then decide to beat him fully to death when Etna comments on how nice Laharl is... You can't help but be amused at the demon Vyers, who Laharl names Mid-Boss... And this recurring character is known by that name throughout the rest of the game. And of course, when Etna and an angelic girl named Flonne both yell at the top of their lungs, you'll most likely burst out laughing right then and there:
WELL, EXCUSE US FOR BEING FLAT!!
It's true: they ARE flat, and the fact that NIS' writers picked up on this interesting concept and so many others makes Disgaea's excellent tale stand out in this genre filled with mindless clichés. And while the two female leads may have flat chests, there's certainly nothing flat about Disgaea's gameplay. There are tons of character classes to be created and strived for, and with a maximum level of OVER NINE THOUSAND, this is a powerleveler's wet dream. Equipment can also be leveled up by going into the Item World: a series of randomly generated dungeons unique to each and every item and filled with difficult monsters and traps.
Disgaea has it all. It's got depth. It's got a great story. It's got unforgettable characters. It's got exploding penguins. It's even got some of the most addictive gameplay the PSP has ever been blessed with. And to top it all off, the PSP port has an alternate reality mode starring Etna and the ever-lovable Prinnies. You've never had so much great gameplay packed into a single UMD, and you probably never will.
So, what's a gamer to do?
Well, if you're anything like me, you'll rush out and get Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness right this moment.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.