Early Hours with Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness

The gang's all here for another adventure.

The gang’s all here for another adventure.

For now I’m going to talk about some of the subtle changes I’ve discovered so far in playing a pre-retail release of NIS America’s latest Disgaea game, Disgaea D2. I have been playing the game on the PS3 for the last few days and enjoying it, despite some changes here and there that shake-up many of the systems that long-time players have grown accustomed to… This post is spoiler free (no details on plot, characters, etc.) but if you want to learn about the mechanics by actually playing the game, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this in the first place. More after the jump below, but you’ve been warned.

They are some subtle (and not so subtle) changes in the latest entry in NIS America’s Disgaea series -Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness. A lot of the stuff that made Disgaea 4 one of the best games in the series to-date is gone and I’m not sure if many of these features were simplified, removed, or reorganized to make it easier for new players, or to streamline the entire system.

Being that this is considered a spin-off of the series, I don’t think many of the features will be making it into the next big release – Disgaea 5 – but we’ll have to wait and see.

First the simple stuff: Now when you die you simply return to your base, battered and bruised – but you are still alive. I am not sure if allowing this to happen changes what kind of ending you get. This does not remove the need to save your game (which any RPG player worth their salt knows is absolutely essential), but it certainly is a welcomed surprise the first time you forget to do so.

Magichange – the ability to change you monster into a weapon to be used by a nearby player on the field is gone. Demon Fusion from Disgaea 4, which allowed two monsters to combine into one gigantic monster, has also been removed as far as we can tell. The old system from Disgaea 4 allowed these gigantic monsters to Magichange into huge weapons. All of those features have been replaced with the less appealing ability Monster Mount on the field. This allows humanoid characters to ride on the backs of monsters and gives this combined unit a special attack that benefits both parties (with the reward of mana and experience). The monster also serves as a “meat shield” for the player because it takes the damage before the rider does. One other benefit for the monster character in this scenario is that it can level up pretty quickly when combined with a high level humanoid character.

Reverse pirating from the Item world has been replaced by random events. Pirates still attack you in the item world at random, but now beating them gives you a ship, which you can use anytime (because that is how you travel through the item world in D2).

Every time you start in the item world you go to a safe zone where one of the NPCs will give you a fresh Mr. Gency’s Exit, which is a pretty handy feature. There’s always a store in these safe zones too. This area, “Innocent Island,” appears after completing every ten levels or serves as the buffer zone if you exited the item and go back in. There are a lot of changes to item world, which I’ll talk about in a future article.

Stealing has been changed slightly in D2 and a few slight changes to the game’s mechanics makes it a little more important, particularly when on the hunt for residents in items held by enemies. For starters the Thief class no long needs to have a Stealing Hand item in order to steal. Those items are more for non-Thief classes in D2. But in all the old Disgaea games players could simply look at what an enemy had equipped to see what residents an item contained. Now you can see the items but you can no longer click on a specific item to see what it might contain for residents. The only to do that now is to either use the Thief’s ability or use a Hand item. While this is a minor change it’s is also a pain in the ass because – unless the enemy is nearby – you’re going to have to deploy someone to do some investigating.

Unfortunately we do not know what item residents (those little buggers that live inside items that can be captured and moved around thereafter for stat bonuses) are in and which ones have been eliminated in Disgaea D2. All the familiar first tier residents still seem to be in the game, but we have yet to run across the ones that were so useful in Disgaea 4 like the Enforcer (which allowed you to move unsecured residents in between items – which would normally be locked down and would have to be subdued).

There are some other changes that are a basic reorganization of how things are presented in the game through the Dark Assembly. Some of the things you used to have to get a vote for in the Dark Assembly have been moved to a new area that unlocks in a certain part of the game called the Cheat System. It’s not as nefarious as it sounds.

Multiplayer from Disgaea 4 is out, as is the ability to design and share your levels with the community.

Flonne gets campy in this special attack against an enemy.

Flonne gets campy in this special attack against an enemy.

The Evil Symbol system (from Disgaea 4)  is gone from the game, replaced by a training facility. By putting your characters in training, you give them a bonus in a certain stat or function every time they level up. As your character levels up in a special training room, the room levels up too, eventually allowing multiple characters to use the room (each room starts out with one slot). Unfortunately – unlike Evil Symbol system – a character can only be in one training group at a time.
While some of these changes may sound scary to some longtime players, D2 is not Disgaea 5 – it’s a side adventure that lets us catch up with our favorite protagonists from the first game – Leharl, Flonne, and Etna.

There are some other small changes here and there:

- Item shops in your base stock weapons that do not have residents in them. They are always empty and resident free.

- There’s a new option in the Dark Assembly that allows you to bribe (for a substantial amount of cash) senators if you fail a vote through the traditional channel. This doesn’t always persuade them to pass the bill.
- The Item World Dark Assembly now uses money instead of mana.

- The combo attack system has been improved by a new relationship system. If you talk to your characters scattered around the Overlord’s castle, it improves your relationship, so that when they are directly next to you on the field (directly behind you or on your side) they might join you in a team attack.

- Some of the stuff that required passage of a bill in the Dark Assembly has been moved to the Cheat System as a reward for certain milestones being met in the story and some side missions.

- Lifting and throwing has been vastly improved, and tower attacks are much more effective than in previous games. These skills are actually worth learning and using.

That’s it for today – we’ll delve into that when we are ready to review the game in October. For now, I am simply going to root around in the guts of D2 and share some of the mechanics so that when the game is released in North America readers who are willing to take the journey with me can get a pretty good idea of what D2 is all about. Of course, I’ll avoid spoiling the game for you, but if you don’t want to know about the new mechanics, systems, and gameplay then you probably shouldn’t be reading this series of articles.

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2 Comments on “Early Hours with Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness”

  1. […] Early Hours with Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness (A brief rundown of what’s new and what’s missing in Disgaea […]

  2. […] Early Hours with Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness (A brief rundown of what’s new and what’s missing in Disgaea […]

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