Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was undoubtedly one of the best games ever released for the PS2.
Introducing us to the charismatic demon Laharl and his band of unlikely companions, including the angel in training Flonne, it was a runaway success for Nippon Ichi Software. Needless to say, many sequels have followed, both direct and spiritual. Disgaea: Hour of Darkness has also been ported to numerous formats, expanded upon, and had spin-offs featuring its much-loved characters. None are as definitive as its latest re-release though, Disgaea 1 Complete. Available now on Nintendo Switch and PS4, not only does it feature all the content from 2016’s PC port of the game, but it also has spruced up visuals to boot.
Depending on how you look at it, Disgaea 1 Complete is either brilliant or a complete waste of time. Personally, my opinion is that it’s brilliant. Why? Because it takes the original game, adds in some content, makes it look a hell of a lot nicer, and that’s about it. It doesn’t tinker too much with anything under the hood, or add features that were introduced in newer entries in the series. This is Disgaea as I remember it, only now it’s much more pleasant to my eyes.
Of course, many will have the opposite opinion to me, and they’re entitled to do so. Fans of the original Disgaea who were hoping that this new version would bring it bang up to date with new features and content will no doubt be disappointed, and quite rightly so. As it is though, Disgaea 1 Complete preserves and presents the game that started a cavalcade of humorous strategy RPGs that we honestly wouldn’t like to be without.
I’ve been spending time with the Nintendo Switch version of Disgaea 1 Complete, and it has brought back many fond memories. Everything about the game is just as good as I remember it to be: the music, the story, everything. What’s more, the visuals really have been upgraded respectfully. Laharl, Etna, Flonne; every character – and enemy – that the game features has been lovingly recreated and brought back to life for a new generation of gamers. The game’s maps have been given a makeover too, making Disgaea 1 Complete a game that looks just as good, if not even better, than its modern day peers.
When it comes to gameplay though, Disgaea 1 Complete remains faithful to its roots. It might not have some of the bells and whistles that are found in Disgaea 5, but it’s still a deep and complex strategy RPG that you can spend tens of hours absorbed in. In fact, I’d argue that most of the new features added in subsequent entries in the series are superfluous to the overall experience anyway. What really matters is the story, its characters, and the core gameplay that enables you to progress through it, and on all three counts Disgaea 1 Complete delivers.
If you’ve played the original Disgaea to death via one or multiple of its releases over the years then sure, Disgaea 1 Complete won’t have a lot to offer you beyond enhanced visuals. If, like me, the last time you played it was at launch on PS2, however, chances are it will be a more than welcome trip down memory lane. Also, if you’ve never played a Disgaea game before and are looking for a great place to enter the series, this is it. It really doesn’t feel dated in any way, has a wealth of tutorials to get you up and running, and is free from nods to other entries in the series that would no doubt leave you perplexed.
There’s a reason why Disgaea spawned so many sequels and spin-offs, and that’s because it succeeded on so many levels. Its storytelling, humour and accessible yet deep gameplay were all phenomenal when it released in 2003, and even 15 years later it all stills holds up magnificently. If you’ve never found the series appealing then this release isn’t going to change your mind, but as far as Disgaea goes, the original is still the best, and Disgaea 1 Complete is the best of the best. The only thing that lets it down is its steep price. It’s a hell of a lot more expensive than Disgaea PC, yet there’s little difference aside from the upgraded visuals.