Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness Review

Anyone who knows me knows that Disgaea was one of my favorite PS2 titles, and probably in my Top 10 list of favorite games, period. So it should come as no surprise that when I got Afternoon of Darkness, I was a little skeptical at seeing the transition from PS2 to PSP. I should have known better, though, and just trusted NIS, because once again, they delivered.

If you’ve played Disgaea before, you know what this game is. For the most part, it’s an exact port. The characters are the same, the gameplay mechanics are the same, the level progression is the same, the skills are the same, etc. The only new features in the core gameplay in this PSP iteration are the item collection mode and ad-hoc multiplayer.

For those who have never played Disgaea, let me give you a quick rundown on the game. Essentially, Disgaea is an SRPG with a heavy emphasis on humor and self degradation. The game pokes fun at conventions and cliches within it, the genre, gaming, and pop culture in general. The story isn’t too unique (you’re the Overlord’s [devil’s] heir to the throne, Laharl, and along with your “friend” Etna and a variety of others have to fight off other demons, some angels and humans, etc.). What makes Disgaea great, though, is the cast of characters and writing. From the awesome Defender of the Earth to the tongue-in-cheek characters like Mid-Boss (or Dark Adonis if you want to be polite) it’s a great cast from top to bottom. It certainly helps that the gameplay is deep, you can create your own characters and go through so many levels and item customizations that I know people who haven’t stopped playing since the day it originally released.

Now, let’s get back to the two new gameplay mechanics. For Disgaea purists, the item collection is great. There’s an NPC in the Overlord’s castle which lists the items you have had or seen at points in the game, helping you get closer to whatever your self-imposed goals for perfection are. If you’re just a casual gamer or weren’t a diehard Disgaea junkie (which, I admit, I wasn’t) it’s a nice feature, but you’ll likely glance over it. This was purely made for the hardcore fans, and if you’re one of them, I know you’ll appreciate it.

The ad-hoc multiplayer is a nice addition for fans of any level. With it, you’re able to play a friend one on one. Of course, there are normal 1v1 staples such as a fog of war, but that’s to be expected. It’s nice having Disgaea with a multiplayer aspect. It may not be entirely fleshed out, and it may really not offer enough options to keep it interesting if you’ve only got one or two friends who have/enjoy the game, but it’s a nice feature nonetheless.

Perhaps the biggest mode in this game — and the one many Disgaea fans will likely pick this up for — is the Etna Mode. Essentially a “What If?” story in the Disgaea universe, Etna Mode asks the question: what if Etna accidentally killed Laharl when trying to awaken him? The game itself is entirely the same; the only difference is the sequences between missions, and different enemies/geo-panels throughout them. It’s not going to break the mold if you’ve played Disgaea already, but it’s entertaining in itself, and the alternate perspective and further emphasis on Etna is only a good thing. (And if you don’t want to beat the main story again to unlock it, there’s also an Etna Code you can enter to unlock the mode from the get-go.)

Gamers who alerady loved Disgaea should really consider picking this up. Sure, it’s more of the same, but it’s also one of the most addicting RPGs ever created on a handheld platform, complete with new features and possible multiplayer battles. If you’ve never played Disgaea before or just could never find a copy, do yourself a favor and pick up Afternoon of Darkness. It’s one of the best SRPG experiences in gaming, and a clear reminder why so many people handed the SRPG crown to Nippon Ichi upon its original release.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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