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Game Info:

Disgaea 4 Complete+
Developed By: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
Published By: NIS America, Inc.
Released: September 10, 2020
Available On: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4
Genre: Strategy RPG
ESRB Rating: Teen (Animated Blood, Drug References, Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes, In-game purchases)
Number of Players: Singleplayer, optional Multiplayer interactivity
Price: $39.99
(Humble Store Link)

I'd like to thank NIS America for the review key to this game.

Conventional turn-based strategy RPGs follow some pretty rigid game mechanics most of the time. They usually have set levels for certain enemies, set equipment and upgrades available at certain points, and typically have to be played linearly. While Disgaea 4 Complete isn't much different on the last one for its story mode, it still dares to go against the grain to provide some fun, generally successfully.

Disgaea 4 Complete+ is an updated re-release of the original Disgaea 4, with new content and some enhancements for contemporary systems compared to the time of its original release. It features HD sprites for its isometric 3D gameplay on grid-based maps and comes bundled with the DLC from all prior versions of Disgaea 4. There are also some microtransactions included, but these are strictly optional and need never be used if the player doesn't intend to use them.

Like all Disgaea games, it's set in the Netherworld, which is something of a Hell/Purgatory mashup viewed through a highly satirical and cartoony lens. The story centers around Valvatorez, a former Tyrant (or Demon King), now working as a humble instructor for Prinnies, the souls of those who need to atone for their sins via hard labor. When his ability to do this is threatened, he sets out to discover why. The story then snowballs into a conflict that threatens to destroy the Netherworld, Earth, and even it's counterpart Celestia (roughly equivalent to Heaven).

Like all Disgaea games, while it's got the typical raise an army and train them via gaining levels and learning skills to beat the main story, it also features a few new mechanics. On top of the standard "Dark Assembly/Senate where you can get new game features like recruiting new characters or unlocking secrets done, there is a "Cam-paign" system. This plays out like a loose parody of politics in which you assign various people to certain "political positions" for in-game bonuses. You can also place certain facilities in your "capital" to provide more in-game services via this new game mode.

Graphically, this game looks great, with an isometric 3D look with HD 2D sprites, and so long as you can meet the requirements for playing the game, both look great. There are some options to speed up animations in case you'd like to make things less tedious that work well, and the speed can be adjusted for player comfort.

Disgaea 4 Complete+
Highlights:

Strong Points: Lots of things to do; very funny; well optimized
Weak Points: Some levels have some tedious design
Moral Warnings: RPG style violence; some crude jokes of implied homosexuality and some revealing looking outfits; some PG-13 level profanity (like b****d and b***h); omnipresent story elements revolving around demons, the undead, and the supernatural (all of the above playable in some form, most of them among the main cast); possibility of fighting beings claiming to be avatars of God's Will in certain endings, though how truthfully they actually are is ambigious/dubious

The music whipsaws between dramatic orchestral pieces, stirring vocals, comedic soundtracks, and everything else in between quite often, and like the other Disgaea games, it all sounds great, and I especially recommend good headphones or speakers to get the full experience. Sound effects are also decent at worst and they all fit the music like a glove. The voice-overs are excellent, and I especially liked the English dub, I found it incredibly good at being both funny and serious when the game required it.

Controls can be either keyboard/mouse or by some sort of gamepad. I definitely recommend the latter option, it feels more natural and the game UI tends to assume you'll be using one by default. The game includes several tutorials to help you learn the basics and there is a built-in reminder for the game mechanics in the hep menu, so I have no complaints as to the controls.

Stability is wonderful. So long as your computer can achieve its rather modest requirements, it will run smooth as butter. Disgaea games are pretty easy to get running even on somewhat older computers and given I managed to get other Disgaea games to run on some rather aged laptops, this game is well optimized for the low-end gamer. The internet-based features are functional, insofar as the ones included at launch like the microtransaction shop and map editor are concerned, and I had no problems with connections, though there wasn't much to enjoy at launch since it was new with the map editor.

Morally, we've got some definite issues, some I'm going to have cover in somewhat exhaustive detail.

Violence is like any other RPG, where you give orders and watch it happen. There is no blood and gore depicted from this, and enemies disappear after death. Language remains firmly in the upper PG-13 realm at worst, with one character in particular who likes to use the word b***h to refer to women, though given they are a wolf-like humanoid, this does reference a legitimate term for a female dog, though his usage tends to be in the form of an insult. One attack does have a very comical looking nosebleed effect, but this is depicted in a very cartoony fashion and is quite brief.

There are some rather racy outfits though not much worse than anything you could see in a daytime movie most of the time, and there are a fair amount of jokes about one of the male characters being gay for another. While it's left ambiguous if they really are, this is frequently a source of humor. There is a pseudo-marriage feature where you can assign party members on a "family tree" for bonuses, one of the spots is named "lover", and given you get a scene where they and the party leader appear in a cut-in image with a lot of hearts in the background, the implication is obvious. Since you can pair up ANYONE (even if they are genderless or not even human) and it's not worse than this, it's ultimately cosmetic and comedic outside of some mild combat bonuses for the most part. It does have an effect on obtaining certain endings, but the only canon option of any importance is between the male protagonist and one of the female party members.

Given most of the main characters are demons and the supernatural is a massive cornerstone of the Disgaea universe, this game has lots of demons, angels, and everything else in the fantasy and religious toolbox displayed. The main character is a vampire, but despite being modeled on the Western concept, is considered a demon, not undead, though zombies/necromancers can be allies and enemies. Regardless, the supernatural and undead are omnipresent elements, even if in Disgaea fashion these are presented in a rather tongue in cheek manner.

The in-game theological system is divided between Celestia (aka Heaven, with God and the angels), Earth (humanity's realm), and the Netherworld (a Hell and Purgatory mashup roughly modeled on the Catholic concept to some extent). Demons are typically evil (or rather, it is expected of them to be this), though some can act fairly noble by certain standards, such as the main character Valvatorez being a stickler for honoring any promise he makes. Angels are generally portrayed as winged humanoids who serve God as is a Christian tradition, though some can display some morally grey behaviors at times, though this is generally the exception as opposed to the rule. Humans who are good wind up in Celestia, while the evil goes to the Netherworld and can eventually redeem themselves, but only after working off their sins as penguin-like beings called Prinnies as atonement.

God does make an appearance in some form in this game, generally in a positive way, as Earth is threatened for destruction and everyone, even the demons, need to pay Him reverence at one point to save the Earth, and prayers of faith are established as a positive. Fear of demons and evil, in general, is seen as a negative, but a necessary one that has humans seeking faith in God for deliverance, and it's this state of affairs going out of whack that sets up a large portion of the plot.

Disgaea 4 Complete+
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 92%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 44%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 5/10
Sexual Content - 5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6/10 (+9 for emphasizing the importance of faith and redemption, a positive portrayal of a healthy love of family members, and showing the moral consequences of trifling with God)

There is a regular ending in which a being of judgment that threatens Earth on God's orders must be fought, and an alternate ending in which avatars of God Himself are apparently fought after the regular end game boss if certain conditions are met, but see the below spoiler for some plot-relevant context for more details on what this entails.


Over the course of the game, humanity has fallen into indolence and avarice,. The malice born of this moral apathy and indifference triggers a system set up to punish humanity if God deems them to have reached Sodom and Gomorrah levels of irredeemability. The manner this takes place is similar to this verse from the Bible:


For thus the Lord, the God of Israel, says to me, “Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. They will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them.” Then I took the cup from the Lord’s hand and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it. - Jeremiah 25:15-17

In the regular ending, it seizes on the hatred and evil of the main villain and uses them as a vessel to exact that punishment. Once defeated, the main villain they did this to realizes his ways and agrees to repent of his crimes, and the matter ends there. Humanity is given another chance to redeem themselves before it becomes too late in this ending. In the alternative ending, avatars of God attack the protagonists after the regular end boss is beaten, deeming them to be a threat. It's heavily indicated they are not representatives of the actual God, and may very well have set off the system the actual God set up to punish humanity without the actual God's permission. God in all prior appearances is very close to the actual one in being willing to redeem and forgive, even extending that mercy once to a demon that agreed to accept punishment for their sins in order to atone. By contrast, whoever is serving as an avatar(s) of God that you have to fight is nigh certainly not the real deal, especially as earlier in the main story it was God's mercy to humanity that saved Earth from destruction and He would not follow that up with trying to destroy humanity anyway. Further, they take the form of demons, which God would never do either in canon or in the Bible. Even in the regular ending, your main protagonist gets to meet the being claiming to be "God" who fights you in the extended ending, who sounds female and your main protagonist even outright realizes they certainly can't be the real one (God is male like IRL in all other canonical Disgaea references), and that makes their connection to the real God extremely unlikely.

This all said, while the game tends to be very comical and satirical, as is Disgaea tradition, there are several good moral and ethical takeaways.

First is the importance of family. At least half your party consists of people with strained relations with their family, and in these cases, while the parents are well-meaning, their poor ability to communicate this leads to conflict with their children. They also emphasize that even if someone isn't related by blood, they can still be your family, and loving them as if they were blood-related is no less important for both sides.

Another good takeaway is that the whole plot was set in motion by humanity becoming morally apathetic to their need to be wary of evil while becoming just as morally apathetic to their need to seek redemption for the evils within themselves. This also ties into a similar moral about the folly of trying to play God, as humanity arrogantly attempts to supplant and surpass the supernatural by toying around with magic and demons and trying to tame those forces for their own use, which prompts what nearly becomes their destruction as a consequence of that hubris. Both that moral to understand the need to spurn evil while seeking what is righteousness while avoiding trifling with God's own realm go hand in hand, and Christians would be well served to keep both in mind.

Finally, this game is big on the concept of repentance. As the main protagonist puts it at one point: "All sin is repayable."

Basically, no matter what crimes you have committed and what sins weigh on your heart, so long as you seek to pay penance for them, you can be redeemed. The way the game shows how that works isn't exactly how it works for Christians, but the moral is still a worthy one, as it's just as true in real life.

As a game, it's certainly worth its price tag if you are a Disgaea fan or you adore turn-based strategy RPGs in general. Morally, it has some good lessons on the importance of moral redemption, the love of family, and why the realm of the supernatural is not a toy. At the same time, it's got some violence, sexual humor, crude language, and lots of focus on demons and other beings of that nature. If you can handle those themes, this title is perfectly suitable for any older teen or older and will provide a lot of replay value.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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