Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness review

When Final Fantasy Tactics isn't enough, this will do nicely

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The battles are more than just pointing one guy at another and clicking "attack," though. You can move each unit into place, tell them to attack or cast a spell, but they won't actually do it until you hit "Execute." This lets you move your troops into highly strategic locations before they actually attack. To further sweeten the deal, units standing next to or behind the attacking unit can team up to deal tons of extra damage. For example, if your demon penguin monster attacks and is standing next to your axe-wielding unit, they'll both attack the enemy unit with a special two-in-one assault.

And it gets better. The one who teamed up still gets to have a turn, as a dual attack doesn't count as its own move. In other words, he gets another turn. Smart usage of the combo feature lets you move units all over the place to team up with multiple attacks and still get their own turns. It's extremely thoughtful and well planned, and one of our favorite battle systems in any SRPG.

The layers keep coming - in addition to all the various units and special abilities you have to keep track of, there are color-coordinated Geo panels lying all over the map. Each one has a unique affect on parts of the battle area, be it healing any unit within range, increasing evasion skills or awarding maxed-out strength. These panels can be picked up and moved to a more advantageous location or simply destroyed. At first they seem arbitrary and a little extraneous, but in more difficult missions they can save your entire army.

Perhaps the most bizarre feature of Disgaea is the Item World, a virtual realm that lives inside each and every weapon or item in the game. So you have a sword. It's alright, but it could stand being a little stronger. Well, dive into its Item World and you'll be able to slowly power it up by fighting through its own set of battle maps. If the main game ever, ever seems too easy or short, just spend some time in the Item World. It's an unbelievably lengthy way to stretch the game out, but again, this can be seen in two ways: artificial gameplay or impossibly cool extra feature. Seeing as you don't really have to bother with it at all to make it far, the Item World is reserved more for the hardcore - who are probably the only ones playing anyway.

More info

DescriptionIf you're into tactical RPGs at all, this is without a doubt one of the deepest, craziest, most time consuming games you could ever play.
Franchise nameDisgaea
UK franchise nameDisgaea
US censor rating"Teen"
UK censor rating""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
Brett Elston

A fomer Executive Editor at GamesRadar, Brett also contributed content to many other Future gaming publications including Nintendo Power, PC Gamer and Official Xbox Magazine. Brett has worked at Capcom in several senior roles, is an experienced podcaster, and now works as a Senior Manager of Content Communications at PlayStation SIE.